Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pre-Holiday Preparations

September 27-30, 2005

Limey Dave is on end-of-trip cruise control now. He’s leaving in three days and his work is done so the rest of the trip is just a formality. That meant that the rest of my week was going to be a formality as well. Dave’s trip has been a fury and blurry sex extravaganza. He’s got a local girlfriend and goes to the Slutty Chick District several times a week. He’s got a sex escapade folder on his computer of all the pictures he’s taken of the ladies and has it down to an art. He says that with prices as cheap as they are, he’d be stupid not to capitalize on it. Well, as long as he has a logical answer, I’m not going to get up in his grill about it. Despite his unsafe and unfaithful lifestyle practices here, I have to give some props to anyone who comes over here and grasps this place by the horns to have a good time and make it worth their time, he has done that more than anyone I have met so far. I somehow doubt that his fiancé in the UK would share my complacent attitude, but you know how women can be.

After drinking for a couple hours on Wednesday, he told me that he hadn’t had a foot massage yet, that’s a shame, I told him. Tonight is as good of a time as any. You just can’t argue with that kind of reasoning, so we were off on another foot massage extravaganza. I will resist the temptation of writing the details again, just for the sake of laziness. Long story short, the second was every bit as good as the first. Because I had been drinking, I had to piss the whole time once again, but it was still great.

In the middle of our foot massage, I got an interesting text message from Mu Duo. She doesn't know a lot of English, but we have still text messaged each other back and forth quite a bit over the past couple weeks. Most of them are the basic ‘how was your day’ or ‘it sure is cold out tonight’ messages. This one was different; she said, “You are very funny and handsome boy!” (Her punctuation, not mine) This totally threw me for a loop; it appears by that message that she may be interested in me. This gives me a nice feeling. I showed it to Dave and he was impressed. Needless to say, the rest of the evening was spent in a slight post-foot massage hot-chick-interesting-SMS-messaging daze. I didn’t even want to think of the consequences of getting into an adult relationship with a 18 year old Chinese girl who only spoke about ten words of English, but I came into this trip with a ‘try anything’ attitude and this definitely falls under the ‘anything’ category, so what the hell.

China is the mobile phone text message capital of the entire world; it’s unbelievable how much it is used here. It has been gaining in popularity in America for the past year or so, but it is a damn national phenomenon here and I can see why. People have their mobile phones with them 100% of the time, so you can guarantee that they’ll get the message immediately and you don't actually have to have a conversation with them. Plus, the typical email excuse of ‘I just never got your message’ doesn't hold true, if you have the persons phone number, they’ll get the message, their only excuse is being to stupid to know how to check their messages, quite an embarrassing admittance of stupidity in this high-tech world. It’s the perfect form of communication. I may poke fun at the Chinese for the things that I consider them to be ‘behind’ on, such as styles (tassel boots and stirrup pants? Come on sir, you look ridiculous.) And shortcomings in western luxuries like boneless food and air conditioners, but there are things that this country is leaps and bounds ahead of the western world on and cellular technology is a big one.

After our token visit to the PetroChina office Thursday morning, Mr. Feng gave us the rest of the week off. I spent the afternoon finishing the end of my work and preparing to get wasted. Now, I could officially slack off for the rest of the week, both in body and in mind, which is good because having body and mind internal conflicts when getting wasted can be a real buzzkill.

Xinlei joined Dave and I at dinner tonight where we had the pleasure of meeting Dave’s local girlfriend (that just means she’s the one he doesn't pay for sex, otherwise, he hates her and calls her ‘Crazy Bitch’ when she’s not around). He’s giving me his bicycle when he leaves and I got the sneaking suspicion that he was offering to give his local girlfriend. I’ll have to pass Dave, but thanks anyway.

Jenny and Xinlei were rambling on to each other in Chinese and, all of the sudden, he turned to me and shouted “Man, what you tell these people about me?!”

“What dude?” I replied, innocently. I tried to scan my memory for anything stupid I may have said about him, I came up with nothing (for once).

“They know about my girlfriend and where she live and where I live!”

“I got news for you Holmes, they know a lot about all of us, Jenny is gossip central. I’m sure I talked to her or Sky at one time or another about your girlfriend, I’m sorry dude. These guys ask questions about us like CIA interrogators.”

He was aghast. I’ve known for a while that anything that deals with either of us is prime discussion fodder for these scamps here. It doesn't bother me too much, but I do get somewhat tired of the hotel network keeping tabs on me all the time. I think Xinlei was enjoying the fact that they all think he’s a single guy. This could explain the recent interest I’ve gotten from the lovely Mu Duo.

Xinlei left not long after because he had an early morning and Dave and I got down to business drinking. I was screwing around with Jenny playing waiter for her tonight, which always gets a lot of crazy looks from the locals. I took her wait tray and put it on the manager’s desk on the other side of the lobby, of course gay Tony was sitting there and he got really freaked out by it and followed me back into the bar and ensued about half hour of uncomfortable conversation between me him and Dave. It’s ok princess, you’ll be back on your knees in no time. Serves me right I suppose.

Eventually, Dave’s local’s mother started calling, worried about her because she was out past 10:30, so they left. She had to get home and Dave was on a mission to get a little farewell-chunk of local ass before he left. I didn't realize that I was invited to their last night date night. I wished him good luck because we were both having difficulties walking.

Friday afternoon, Dave and I went to the driving range. Langfang has China’s largest golf course, coming in at a whopping 99 holes with an additional nine holes planned to be built every year for the next five years. The golf course is actually quite a ways from the hotel, about 8 kilometers northeast, past the Oriental University, the gigantic college here. Laura and I had gone out to the course a couple weeks ago, her father is a huge golfer and she wanted to get him some Chinese golf hat or something. Somehow, they thought we wanted a membership, so they called their English-speaking manager, a girl named Rainbow who showed us around a bit and gave us her business card. This card would come in handy for Dave and I, I’m surprised I still had the damn thing, I’ve probably gotten about 200 business cards since coming to China. We successfully negotiated a taxi out there.

Luckily, Rainbow’s business card included the course address on it, so that eased the transportation aspect of our afternoon’s journey (which is always a pain in the ass if you don't speak Chinese). We wanted to hit some balls on the driving range, but we had no clubs or communication skills (but I did have some golfin’ skillz back in the day). We showed someone Rainbow’s card and they called her. Her English was actually pretty good, so we got straightened out with the quickness. We ended up hitting balls for a couple hours with rented clubs for about $5 and Rainbow hooked us up with unlimited range balls. I haven’t swung a club in about 3 years and it showed.

Chinese golfers are a trip. Much like my previous exploits on the basketball court, I was at first intimidated by them. They were pimped out in the latest golfing gear, awesome clubs, dressed to the T, not just one or two people, but everyone at the range. It was like a warm-up tee for a tournament. But, alas, upon further review, these guys really sucked. It didn't take a golf-pro to see that there were an inordinate number of balls in the 10-50 yard area, in a wild shotgun pattern. Citizen would step up to the tee, get all serious looking, take a practice swing, check the mirror to make sure they still looked professional and then swing away. If they even hit the ball, it would either trickle off the tee or hit the heel of the club and go in any direction. It was quite amusing and I wish I had taken a video camera, Bob Saget’s dumbass would have to pay up. Our size and comparative skill got us quite a bit of attention as usual.

On the way back we walked through the Oriental University campus, which is about the size of the town I grew up in. The school has a maximum capacity of well over 100,000 students, all within the campus (there are no non-traditional students in China, if you go to school, you live on campus). Currently there are a mere 50,000 students, a virtual ghost town. Since Saturday is a Chinese national holiday (that’s actually called National Holiday), students were lined up in droves to catch buses home. Which meant that the onlookers were already all standing out in the streets in packs when we came through.

The university also has about 300 basketball courts. As we walked past one, I told Dave to hold up for a second while I went in and grabbed the rim. The basketball court has been the only place that I enjoy the attention, probably because I get no attention playing ball in America and here I am a high-top god. As I soared through the air, I assumed that the backboard was metal, which soon proved to be another in my long string of incorrect assumptions. It was wood, probably the oldest wood in China and as soon as I grabbed the rim, a loud snap began to echo through the crowded streets of the university. The sound of the backboard breaking was like lightning striking a tree and I left the rim dangling from one lone screw. The sound was loud enough that everyone in a two-block radius was now looking at me. You want attention? Here it is.

Dave and I made haste away from the courts, because we were on foot, a quick get away was out of the question. White people hide guilt and embarrassment very poorly, it has to do with our beady eyes and the knack our skin has for turning a bright red at the drop of a hat (or drop of a basketball rim or drop of a fart in church, whatever). People were totally shocked and kind of following us with a strange awe and I wanted to crawl in a hole (mainly to avoid prosecution). The place it so big, we had to walk through crowds of people for about 45 minutes to exit the vicinity of the Oriental University and Golf Resort to get a taxi and make our way back to the hotel.

Afterwards, Dave and I were sitting in the lobby, where we kicked our shoes off, which happens quite a bit and that bitch that ruined my drinking a few nights ago came over and made us put our shoes back on, of course she knows no English, she just pointed at our feet and kept repeating ‘please’. It took me a minute to really understand what she was saying, then when I figured it out, it just pissed us off. It’s probably because of the Tony thing the night before. I should have pointed out earlier that the reason the girls hate her is because she slept with Tony for a promotion. This is a good example of why white people never get stopped by the police around here, they’re not stupid (technically speaking) and know that if the cracker doesn't know Chinese, he will be unable to pay the bribe and, to complicate it further, they will have to call someone on the force that does speak English and pretty much ruin their afternoon. If someone is being a prick here who doesn't speak English, they’re doing just that, being an asshole for revenge or something similar.

Niall came back that evening, which is great because he’s leaving for good on Monday, and I’ll be gone on my road trip, so we spent a couple hours having some beers. Mu Duo came in and hung out with me and was extra flirty and I loved it. After she left, I text messaged her about taking a walk some night, she replied that it’s too late tonight, but soon yes. Pretty sweet. Her and I have been messaging each other quite a bit, she wants me to keep our messages secret. I think she knows how much the people in the hotel gossip, it’s ok baby, I can do it on the down low, no doubt. What the hell am I doing? Ignoring the fact that I’ve also been on a text message flurry with Mattie and their names are just too close to each other on the address book not to make me nervous of a miss-sent message, I am just too desperate for my own good I think. As a side note, I think their names are too close to my mother’s mobile phone as well.

Niall, Dave and I finished the night with a foot massage at Rocks. Niall had not had one yet and Dave and I were fired up at the chance to get another cheap massage. Like usual, they brought us massage pajamas, which we normally pass up. Unfortunately, Niall was in the mood to get into the whole experience, so we all put the shit on. They fit all of us differently. Dave is a pretty normal sized guy, so his fit the best. Niall couldn't get the top buttoned over the top of his beefcake chest. My pants fit me like a spandex bodysuit. It was quite amusing. Once again, it was awesome, I had to have a guy ‘do me’, but I didn't really mind that much, I mainly felt sorry for him for having to touch my feet.

Around 1:00 am, the three of us said our good byes. Dave and Niall are leaving Sunday and I am leaving tomorrow for my holiday weekend extravaganza with Xinlei, Mattie, and her roommate. I still do not know where we’ll be going, he just told me North, far north, about six hours away. So I’m packing warm and filling out my will.

The foot massage signaled the end of the first session of the United Nations in Langfang and I have a feeling that this place will never be the same. All in all, my spirits are high. The stress from the past weeks has quickly dissipated and been replaced by good feelings and strength. The company has been nice, but it will also be nice to be on my own again for a while. My life is a series of alternating flashes of companionship and solitude, both have their places in my world, but both need to be tamed by the opposite from time to time.

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