The best (maybe the worst) thing about knowing a little Chinese, is that you get into conversations you suddenly find yourself no longer able to understand. After meeting a friend for drinks tonight, him with a glass of Brandy and me with my trusted bottled water, I caught a cab home. As usual, the driver starts with the standard questions: where are you from, do you like China, how long have you been here, etc., etc. Impressing myself with my vast array of stock questions and answers, I was just chugging along... even learning that my driver had been in Beijing for about 2 and a half years, was from nearby Miyun and had only one girlfriend.
I'm sure you just said to yourself, "One girlfriend? What does that have to do with anything?" Well, I started joking around with him, basically calling him a player and accusing him of having many girlfriends. I figure he meets so many women in a day, he must be collecting a lot of digits along the way. What girl wouldn't dig the pungent smell of week-old tea combined with the B.O. of a man confined to a small area all his life? Side note: That was a joke, but in some crazy Chinese logic, I may have hit on something. Moving on...
Well this leads into a conversation about the ladies (nuren) of Beijing, until he suddenly switches his term for ladies into the more colorful xiaojie. This was right around the same point he switches on the local-accent (qiche-hua) and begins to rapid fire me with questions. I try to stay with him, but finally give up and just start faking it with a bunch of "dui's" and "hao's" hoping to keep him satisfied long enough to make it to my stop. Finally arriving at home, he continued to barrage me with half-grinned questions, so I threw out one more "hao" with a dash of "zaijin" and was out the door.
Walking into my building, it suddenly occurred to me after a little after-the-fact translation, that I may have just agreed with him on how exciting the hookers are in Beijing.
Don't worry, I'm not your ambassador.