Sunday, January 08, 2006

Here Ye! Here Ye! ...We have struck booty!!

October 6-12, 2005

I barely slept a wink that night. I kept tossing and turning in bed, sweating and heartbroken, my eyes felt like they were doused in broken glass. I just felt the need to be understood, not necessarily by someone else, but to understand myself. I know I was chasing a fool’s dream, but these little hopes and short-term energy sources seem to keep me going, moving forward. I just could not comprehend why I am always affected by simple things so harshly.

I moved through the morning in a sort of daze, not sleeping, but definitely tired, trying to understand why I insisted on staying in bed despite knowing that I was unable to sleep. I read and wrote a bit, but my mind was wandering uncontrollably, I tried to work, not really, but I should mention work from time to time.

The next afternoon, Mattie sent me a text message, just saying hello and seeing how my day was going. Needless to say, I was somewhat shocked. I completely expected to never hear from her again, in America, if a girl tells you not to call her that means ‘you shouldn't wait by the phone because I’m never going to call you again either.’ I know that I was never planning on talking to her again. What’s the point? I have a very hard time facing my failures and this was no exception. However, I’m not a complete idiot, if she was willing to make the effort, I wasn't going to ignore her, so I sent her a message back, something along the lines of ‘I’m ok, just tired. How about you?’ I’m so smooth.

Over the course of the day we exchanged a couple more messages and she convinced me to install yet another chat program on my computer so we could talk more. I was still pretty confused, but at the same time I could not resist her. Even though I couldn't see her, I could picture that smile and those eyes and smell her skin and I’m a glutton for punishment when it comes to desperation of relationships. This was rapidly proving no different.

We ended up chatting online for about 4 hours that night and during the course of our conversation, the crux of her strange actions were revealed. Her and her boyfriend of four years had split up just two months ago. He was still hanging around her, trying to get her back, calling, dropping by, following her, all that psycho boyfriend stuff (I find his amateur techniques amusing, I should give him lessons). This has stressed Mattie out quite a bit and, needless to say, meeting another man is the last thing on her mind right now. It’s not because I’m a foreigner, it’s because I’m a man (or at least an extremely hairy boy).

This shed a whole new light on circumstances. I knew that her and her boyfriend had recently split up, but I had no idea it was such a serious relationship and that he was fucking crazy.

“Jesus, Mattie. That makes so much more sense, and makes me feel horrible. If I had known that, I would have backed off you and left you alone more.” (Maybe…. eh.. probably not.)

“No, it’s ok, I did have a good time with you, but I’m just very scared of anything that has to do with a relationship right now.”

This nugget gave our conversation a whole new life, mainly because being alone is one of my feature presentations. We talked of heartbreak and of sadness, confusion and anger, and of course how much talking can help (not that I ever talk about my feelings, at best I write about them, knowing that most of my friends hate reading and will never realize the truth about me). If she had been asking me questions about how to make a relationship successful, I’d have been screwed, but we kept it on the happy topic of relationship failures and the depths that a person can sink from disappointment. I can always talk to the recently single class, I know what they’re going through, unfortunately, despite my best efforts, they all graduate to the ready-to-move-on class, leaving me behind to greet the next wave of recently single people like a friendly old man at the front door of Wal-Mart.

Her mother was at her house and could hear us chatting. I sent her a couple of the pictures from our trip that she hadn’t seen. Her mother commented that she thought I looked very nice and had a very gentle way about me. Totally sweet dude, I’m already getting in with the mother and I haven’t even had to talk to her (not that I could if I wanted to).

In the middle of the night, I went to sleep much happier for me and yet much sadder for her. She’s going through a bad time and I was absolutely no help. My subconscious is speaking much louder to me these days and I’m beginning to realize that he is evil (and surprisingly handsome).

The next day, we chatted again and towards the end of the conversation she said, “I have something to say to you, but I’m very shy.”

“What is it? You don't have to be shy with me.”

“Ik mis jue” (or something to that extent).

“What the hell is that? That doesn't look Chinese, it looks Swedish or something.”

“It’s Dutch, but I can’t tell you what it means, you must figure it out.”

I don't think Mattie realized that I was sitting on the Internet and had the entire world at my fingertips. It took me about three seconds to search for it and the search results made my jaw drop.

“Mattie….that means….‘I miss you’… is that right?” I stammered.

“Yes, I’m too shy to say it though. But I do miss you. I’ve been looking at our pictures from Ba Shang and realizing how I really do miss you.”

“Awww, I miss you too.” I managed to stutter. I’m so confused now; this is an unbelievable change from two nights ago when she didn't want to ever see me again.

I kept repeating Xinlei’s advice to me. “She’s Chinese, you must take it slow and at her speed, don't force anything dude.”

The normal Lucas would have replied like this, “Will you marry me and move to an island with me?” The new and speechless Lucas replied, “I wish I could see you again. I know you’re very sad, but it will be ok. You have tons of friends around you who love and care for you. Please let me know if I can do anything to help you, it would be my pleasure.”

The new speechless Lucas is such a fag. First of all, I can't believe I actually said, “It would be my pleasure.”

Not long after, she had to go and face the visit from the ex-boyfriend to exchange stuff and talk. She was pretty nervous, but knew she had to do it, so with a mixture of emotions we both left each other for the time being.

That evening, Xinlei and I decided to have a couple beers at the hotel and shoot some pool. It wasn't long before two or three beers turned into about fifteen beers and we were somewhat drunk. About 12:30, we were sitting down in the bar finishing our beers when my phone rings. I look to the caller ID and see, much to my surprise, that the ‘no phone call’ embargo that Mattie had placed had apparently been lifted.

She was very sad and crying. She said her ex was crying and getting angry and just wouldn't leave her alone (damn amateurs). She cares for him and says that he’s a good person, but she doesn't want to be with him anymore because he’s so immature and he just wont leave her alone. She was so sad and just wanted to talk to someone. She said she called me because we could talk in English and her mother wouldn't understand. She just wants to run away. I told her that if she had to run away, she could run away to Langfang (with that nervous laughter after the comment that does a horrible job in hiding the truth in the suggestion).

We talked for about two hours and she kept apologizing for calling me and for crying and showing me how weak she was. “Come on Mattie, it’s ok really; I don't think you’re weak. Don't confusion emotion with weakness.”

By this time it was about 2:30 am and it was getting difficult for me to cover up my drunkenness. Mattie was tired and wanted to go to sleep, plus her mother was lurking in the shadows of her apartment, wanting to talk with her, so we said goodnight.

“Go give your mother a hug and cry on her shoulder. She loves you very much and is concerned about you because you’re so sad.”

The new Lucas is such a fag.

The next day, we chatted for a bit in the afternoon and she said that her ex was supposed to come over again that night and she just didn't want to see him. Once again, she said she wanted to run away. I said, just run away to Langfang (again with the nervous laughter), we’ll take care of you. Next thing I knew, she called Xinlei and asked if she could stay in one of his extra rooms for a day or two. Xinlei, being the Romeo nice guy, immediately rented a car and drove to Beijing (conveniently forgetting me of course).

I told Mattie and Xinlei that I was going to go play basketball for a couple hours and to give me a shout when they got to town and we could grab dinner. I went and played basketball for about three hours and dominated the courts. I’m starting to get my jump back (I can get up about three inches in the air now), my shot feels good and the good people of China still suck ass at basketball. My new bicycle makes it an easy quick bike ride to the gym, so I don't have to rely on taxis anymore.

Xinlei, Mattie and I got together about 7:30 for dinner in my house (the hotel). The stares abounded as we walked through the lobby, the bad part of being accepted into a family is that you have to deal with the family-like gossip train. We headed back to the Western Restaurant for a quiet dinner. I was particularly mindful of Mu Duo, whose smile was minimal and shock was apparent.

When I sat across the table from Mattie and took my first good look at her. I could just see it in her eyes, she was sad, no smiles, no laughing, just a quiet impassive person, sitting across the table. Over the course of dinner, Xinlei and I got her to loosen up a bit. Cheery stories about the way I was raised by my parents and how my sisters and I fought all the time are apparently a gold mine of humor. Trying to explain how I kind of lived in a religious mansion for a while was pretty difficult, mainly because China has neither religion nor mansions. By the end of dinner, Mattie was smiling and laughing and things were going well once again, she was also looking at me with those amazing eyes more and more.

After dinner, Mattie and I decided to take a walk and Xinlei decided to go drive around town for a while (he sure does love driving). Mattie and I walked to the big square across the street from the hotel and spent about two hours talking and holding each other. We talked about our bad luck with pets and our families and telling each other stories, looking into the sky. Real romantic shit. Of course, I was looking and smelling my best after three hours of basketball, but she didn't seem to mind.

Then it happened. Like an explosion in the night. First kiss. It was very brief and she couldn't even look at me afterwards, but it happened. It wasn't fireworks type of stuff, but it was really there, she kissed me on my lips. The fact that it was her initiative to kiss me made it even doubly lovely. I could hear Xinlei’s voice in my subconscious “Take it slow dude, she’s Chinese” so I put the wedding ring back in my pocket and just put my arms around her and held her. This is her ballgame and I don't mind playing it. I felt like dancing, in fact I did briefly, but she got embarrassed even more. It was just a couple bars of the Cabbage Patch, baby.

Eventually, we made our way over to Xinlei’s apartment where he was waiting for us. Our walk lasted two hours and covered three city blocks. Not a bad evening.

The next day consisted of Mattie coming over to my room in the morning and staying all day. Most of the day spent making out in bed like a couple high-school kids, keeping it pretty PG. I was in heaven; of the two girls I’ve kissed in my life she’s the hottest. I felt like once she gave me access to her lips, I had access to the whole body. It was like going to Disney World, once you got through the front gate, you could ride all the rides for free; however, there is always that one ride that’s super special that you have to pay for – The Exhilarator. I hope that the Exhilarator opens up some day.

That night, the three of us shot some pool in the hotel game room. Xinlei was pretty frustrated and somewhat upset the whole evening, he’s extremely lonely these days and Mattie was super-flirty with me the whole time, so it just compounded his loneliness. In an attempt to improve his mood, she suggested we go to KTV (Karaoke TV), which is the most popular thing in China, outside eating snakes and whorehouses.

Xinlei wanted nothing to do with it, he doesn't sing and didn't feel like being pressured into singing. Mattie just wouldn't let it go, she was absolutely convinced that this would help him and her persistence just upset him more. He would barely look up and would hardly talk. I had the mental image of Mattie, dressed in an explorer uniform from the early 1800’s, poking an irritated bear with a stick. I was starting to get a bit of a sore throat and didn't particularly want to go there either, I’m not a singer and I do not play one on TV. Karaoke just isn’t my thing. In the US, I’ve been several times with a handful of people; we get drunk, if you want to sing, then sing, if not, no one’s up your ass about it. I was slightly curious about what was behind the walls of one of the many KTV buildings in this country. Plus, it was Mattie’s idea, and I always vote booty on trivial amendments, ask any of my constituents.

Eventually Xinlei said that the only way he would go was if he was assured she would not banter him any more about having to sing and that he could just sit there drink beer. She agreed and the tables were set for a rocking night of karaoke, at least for one of the three of us.

We were off. My first KTV experience. Walking into the place, I immediately thought of a cross between a movie theater and a casino. Lights everywhere, crazy carpet, Chinese video games in random places, and floors upon floors of hallways of doors to private rooms; I was completely awestruck to the point of dizziness. If Alice In Wonderland were remade today, it would have at least one scene in this building.

There was no public-bar style of karaoke, everyone rented their own private room and, with the door safely shut, sang their little hearts out. As we walked down the hallway, I noticed that there was a waiter or guard or something like that, outside each room. He would open the door, take your booty wine and fruit orders, wipe up the sex messes after climax and pretty much anything in between.

I assume that the rooms come in various sizes, just like dining halls and meeting rooms. Our room was about the size of a small living room. Around the perimeter of the room was a big U-shaped leather couch. Along the outer wall was a 45” big-screen TV that was connected to a Cerebro-type command center in the corner with two microphones coming out to rest on a big, glass coffee table with a fruit-basket in the middle of the room.

In typical Chinese fashion, the room looked much nicer than it really was. The leather couch was actually plastic and was about as comfortable as a leather floor, the walls were spray painted black and the carpet was coming up off the floor.

Cerebro had peaked my interest and I immediately went over to it and started pushing buttons. It resembled one of those touch-screen games at a bar. The stupid thing was all Chinese and had more buttons on it than a computer from a 1960’s sci-fi movie.

Mattie pushed me out of the way and jumped on the thing like a kid on a broken piƱata and didn't move the whole night (I just realized how much I miss Mexican food). She started pushing buttons and programming songs and doing voice exercises. These people take this shit serious. She sang and sang and sang; Xinlei drank and drank and drank; and I coughed and sneezed and ate a banana. Mattie’s voice was surprisingly good, and she did a good job overcoming the horrible pop music that is presented to these poor people.

Xinlei and Mattie were both pretty preoccupied with their respective activities, so I had a good opportunity to analyze Chinese popular music. My thoughts? Extremely lame. The songs have the sound recording quality of a garage band EP. The videos are pretty bad, very bad, actually. But in China, if you have the money to get a video and an album, you’re going to be popular, there are 1.23 billion people here, so you’re guaranteed to have a niche. Plus, these people are so starved for entertainment that they latch on to anything they can get with the voracity of a tick on a dog’s ear.

Xinlei’s mood was pretty touch and go, so I tried to entertain him and chill, but my health was deteriorating rapidly and he was getting kind of drunk and looked like he wanted to keep drinking alone, so I mostly left him alone. It seemed like we sat there for six hours while Mattie got her KTV itch scratched.

When we finally got back to the hotel, I made my next costly foot-in-mouth mistake with Mattie. Xinlei was going to go home and keep drinking and it was obvious that he wasn't in the mood to have company.

As we got out of the taxi and headed up to my room to get her stuff, I pulled her aside and whispered, “Hey, Xinlei doesn't look like he really wants to be around people tonight. Would you like to stay here with me? I’ll take the couch, you can have the bed.”

The color left her face and she looked away. Oh shit. On the elevator, she quietly freaked out on me “Is that a common thing in America?”

Realizing my mistake, I said, “Well, actually, yes. It’s not that big of a deal, I wasn't asking to lean you over the balcony. I’ll sleep on the couch, you can have the bed, that’s really all I meant.” At least one portion of that statement wasn't actually in the dialogue.

The thing is, I was telling the truth, normally, she would have caught me in a lie, but not this time, I was feeling pretty rough and just wanted to go to sleep, but she didn't see it that way. She got all of her stuff and basically left me in stunned silence. There it was, my one-day relationship.

I didn't sleep a bit that night, I just felt so horrible about how the night ended with Mattie and I wanted to explain to her, but I really don't know how to. I also started to notice this extreme up and down behavior and wasn't sure what it meant, I just assumed that it was because we were two people from different cultures and it was all part of the learning process. This was two nights in a row where I slept horribly because of a mistake and it was beginning to suck. Whether your pillow is wet from tears or sweat, it is still cold and morning cannot come quick enough.

The next morning, I went to Xinlei’s place to see her. A black mood was upon me and I had no idea what I was going to say or do, but I just felt the need to test the waters a little bit. By this time, I was sick as hell, coughing, sneezing, just feeling like crap (Avian flu anyone?) She was pretty standoffish to me, like the night before. Xinlei was on his way out the door to Beijing for the day, which left us there, alone and confused. I felt like a total dipshit. I wanted explain to her that I had honest intentions, but you can just tell when someone has their mind set and nothing you can do or say will change it (I’m not the only one with blind faith in my first reactions).

After about five minutes of trying to get muster courage of honesty, I chickened out and I told her that I’d let her go and leave her alone. She told me to wait while she changed clothes and disappeared into the bedroom. About two minutes later, she re-emerged wearing my Ecko t-shirt and a lot of skin; within about 30 minutes, we were in Xinlei’s bed, ass-deep in another day of making out and getting more and more intimate. Eventually she said that once she saw the look in my eyes, she realized I was telling the truth and she couldn't be upset anymore. Interesting note to file away for future use (What? These old things? Yeah, I just use them for looking at flowers and stuff, baby.”)

We were lying on the bed, taking a make-out break and we started talking about our holiday trip, this time from her point of view. So far, Mattie is the one who’s been embarrassed all the time, with me standing off in slight bewilderment of what exactly I did to turn her red. This was her opportunity to make me feel embarrassed, and she did it like a champ. My parents couldn't have done a better job with my baby pictures.

First, I offered to let her lay her head in my lap to sleep. She thought I was just being considerate, so she accepted the offer. I can tell you this, if it were Xinlei, I wouldn't have offered.

Then I put my arm around her while she was laying down across my lap (because I couldn't keep my hands behind my head for 14 hours), she didn't mind and thought little about it.

Then we casually started holding hands. At this point, she still thought I was being friendly and didn't want to offend me and ruin her pillow for the weekend. She thought it was a bit odd, but I was a foreigner and that’s just the way foreigners are in her mind.

Then, when I first started kissing her hands, she really freaked out. The only reason that she didn't say anything was because she was too shy. After that, she found it hard to make eye contact with me because she didn't want to laugh at me. After thinking about it more, she never did return my kisses.

The rest of the trip she spent in a confused state, not knowing what she should do about my advances and feeling overall uncomfortable.

So there it is, a woman’s point of view of my ‘method’. Basically it works out like this, the only reason that she even spoke to me afterwards was because she was just to damn shy to tell me to stick it. I made an ass of myself the whole trip and she was just too polite to say anything and the only reason I kept doing it was because I made the mistake of thinking that she was into it. I’m still chalking it up as a win, for now at least.

Mattie and I had a great day, but she had to return to Beijing that evening. One thing that rang clear in our talks was that she really didn't want us to tell anyone about us being ‘special friends’ (her words, not mine). She doesn't want anyone to know anything at this point, including Xinlei. This probably explains why she freaked out when I invited her to stay the night with me yesterday. Xinlei is a smart fellow, and unless he had a frontal lobotomy this morning, you can bet he knows exactly what’s going on (however, he probably thinks we’re at least using another bed).

She also is a sales manager for a competing company for my company (that’s a lot of words that begin with ‘comp’); this is a huge deal for her. See, my company only has four people working in China, Xinlei and I are two of them, the other two are sales guys, which means that she routinely is in the same meetings with clients as they are. One of the guys can be a downright prick, and she doesn't want to give him any more fodder than necessary, and in China, this would definitely be fodder. So at best, 50% of my company already knows about us. Not to mention all the pictures I’ve sent to my boss bragging about China.

I however, could care less that she works at a competing company. I leave my work at the front gates of our office; I simply don't have anything to talk about to the ‘outside’ world, nothing of interest. I could probably give our software demonstrations and copies of all of our companies presentations to 99% of the world and they would be immediately flipped over and used as scratch paper for fantasy football drafts.

I know all about sneaking around, I’m a former heavyweight champ at it, but there’s a couple rules that need to be ‘bent’ a bit from time to time, one is that you occasionally have to lie and the other is that sometimes you just don't answer the phone. Mattie has none of this, so she’s at a very difficult ethical crossroads and I’m afraid that my advice would be damaging to her sweet soul.

As I watched her taxi pull away Thursday night, I realized that I now have what I asked and dreamed of before coming over here – a smokin’ hot Chinese biddie. True, she may not let me tell anyone about it, but writing about it is technically not ‘speaking’. This is the best part of a relationship, when I can ignore the inevitable problems that will start tomorrow.

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