In the U.S., we have Elvis impersonators, and a lot of them...so in a sick way, I'm hoping we see this become a staple of Chinese pop culture. Eventually, China might get enough to start their own skydiving team...
I'm sorry, I'm just not even surprised anymore. The appearance of Scooby-Doo's famed Mystery Machine (err...Mistery Machine) in Beijing this morning didn't even phase me. If Velma and Fred had been in the back making a sex tape, ok, then I would have been a little shocked. Just a little though.
The breakfast crew had a short debate on whether or not the misspelling was intentional or an unfortunate act of Chinglish. To date, the best theory we have is that it's a limousine for one of Beijing's gay bars.
1. The Chinese seem to be the best in the world at putting things on sticks. On my walk home today, I saw meat products, fruit, candy, etc. all on sticks. Jello has not yet been mastered, but I hear the government has a 5-year plan to solve that problem. Also, being good at putting things on sticks, does not mean you are good at making the sticks.
2. If the new girl working at Baskin-Robbins has anything to say about it, I now have some hope for customer service in China. Seeing that I seem to always pick two scoops of chocolate, she took it upon herself to give me a third free scoop of chocolate chip to help me expand my culinary horizons. Unfortunately, due to an allergy to vanilla extract, she could have put me into anaphylactic shock. Sorry, just kidding, I'm not allergic to vanilla...
3. Why are there so many manholes in Beijing?
4. If you change the name of your restaurant from "Charming Baby Club" to "Jimmy's Western Bar and Grill" and then to "Jimmy's Thai Restaurant," I'm going to walk away thinking your business has absolutely no focus. When the executive manager comes over to my table to invite me to come back and listen to their late night rock/pop/reggae/jazz/blues/dance band, you're just going to further prove my point. Also, if you want to attract foreigners to your restaurant either put it in a place that has more laowai foot traffic, or actually learn how to cook. Your food sucks and I'm glad I told you so.
5. How is it I end up singing a ridiculously large number of Billy Joel and boy band songs whenever I end up going to a karaoke? And should I be worried about that?
Last Christmas, my Chinese tutor gave me a book of "Humorous Stories" to read as part of my studies. Until last week, it's just been sitting on my shelf waiting to be picked up by anyone looking for some mild-mannered Chinese amusement. Opening it, I discovered the editor "manage[d] to collect the lively and standard spoken materials to enable readers to get in touch with the real, modern life of the Chinese."
That's great! Learning about the modern China is exactly why I'm here and throwing a little humorous story or two out there is just the thing to really drive those life lessons home. For example:
A businessman tried to bribe a government official with a car. The official said: "Mister, I can't accept your present according to the government rules."
"Well, how about this?" the businessman lowed [sp?] his voice, "I'll sell you this car for 10 bucks, how does it sound?"
The official thought for a while and said: "If so, I'd like to buy two."
Moral of the story: Chinese government officials are above reproach and could never be bribed, yet do possess a keen knack for negotiating!
What about those Chinese girls we hear about so much? Is there a lesson to be shared here as well? Well, let's take a look:
Father: My daughter, why don't you get married?
Daughter: I've had 20 boyfriends, but none of them satisfied me. I would rather wait some more time to find the ideal one.
Father: You better hurry up.
Daughter: Don't worry, dad, there are plenty of fish in the sea, and there must be at least one to swallow the bait.
Father: But my dear, the bait will lose its smell if kept too long.
Moral: Personal hygiene may be a problem for some girls in China. Also, this girl has never dated a foreigner. Just kidding about that last one...so just keep your lynch mob at home. I'll try to be nicer with the next story, very sweetly named "Aunty":
Have you and Mary been married at a registry?
No, she changed her mind.
Why? Didn't you tell her that your uncle is a millionaire?
It's not necessary any more -- she's my aunty now.
Moral: Many Chinese girls like rich, older men. If you're reading this, you are neither old or rich. Also, I believe Mary is an airline stewardess...but I could be a little biased on that one.
At this point, I'm sure you've "busted a gut" over these stories. Almost Seinfeld-ian in its humor, I had to wonder how the editor was able to collect such a wide variety of stories. Luckily, the editor admits:
"Many materials have been passed through many hands or places which are not indicated with the authors or origins, and some are even foreign materials. We've tried to get in touch with all the writers involved, but failed to reach all of them due to various reasons. We'd like to ask the original authors to contact Beijing Language and Culture University Press to get the pay."
If only the rest of the book could be as funny as the editors.
Apparently I'm not hip to the Chinese version of April Fool's Day, or as it was China-fied to me later, "Happy Foolish Festival!" Twice today I have been duped by some of my Chinese counterparts.
The first happened shortly after lunch when a female acquaintance I know sent me the following two messages: SMS Message 1; 12:54pm: "Love You !" SMS Message 2; 12:55pm: "Love you ! Happy foolish festival ! ;-)"
And then later that day, my Chinese tutor, also by SMS, shared this with me:
Teacher: "There are some people want to play American football, but they are novice. Would you please be their coach?" Me: "Sounds interesting. I'm not sure I'm the best coach around. Who are they?" Teacher: "Many beautiful girls and an April fool!" In the first case, I had some suspicions that this particular girl harbored some feelings for me. It was probably the constant stream of text messages and late-night phone calls that tipped me off! So as you can understand, receiving an "I love you" message out of nowhere sent a small chill down my spine. And considering the fact that her father is a retired military general, I was a little unnerved for the next two minutes. As for the second case, I'm not even sure how this classifies as a joke. I was actually more disappointed than anything else. Coaching an all Chinese girls American football team would have made a excellent story.
The point here is that to truly classify as a successful prank, you have to convince someone of something that falls outside their normal scope of reason. In Beijing, neither of my scenarios classify. Ask any red-blooded, white man in Beijing if he's ever had a local girl express (out of nowhere!) her emotions for him and he normally has at least 2-3 stories. It's just that common. And yes, the football story did seem a little odd to me, but considering what local students do to experience American culture at times...I really wasn't surprised. It's the equivalent of me learning to speak Chinese while experience the culture by learning Mahjong or the proper way to mix green tea and Chivas!
Apparently, I'm not the foreigner affected. Since I had already been the victim of two jokes, I decided to share the love and play a few of my own on some expat friends. I started off by convincing a Spanish friend that I'd hooked up at some bar with a friend of hers. And yet, despite her knowing that I've never done this, she completely bought it, right up until the point I reminded her what day it was. To my surprise, she had already been tricked twice as well, but fell for this one.
I then tried a slight variant of the first joke with a second friend, but this time using my first victim as the girl I hooked up with. Similar story, same result. Except this time, he actually called the girl I was supposedly involved with to dig up some dirt. And since she was in on the joke, she just played coy enough to have him believing what happened. He was actually glad to hear that our mutual friend had found a "quality" guy after all the losers she had dated. So feeling a little guilty, I told him it was just a joke. Yet strangely enough, he refused to believe me and now thinks I'm hiding something from him.
Was my little prank that good? Absolutely not. It's just seems that so many strange and dramatic things happen here in Beijing that no one is even capable of distinguishing fiction from reality. Basically, anything that has more than a 15% chance of happening can and will be considered the truth. Two years ago, you couldn't convince me that the Chinese government could control the weather, but I've seen it! I wouldn't have even believed a driving system based on rapid swerving and repetitive honking could get anyone between two points, but I make it to work every morning.
I couldn't even believe the government could convince all the people in Beijing to stand in line and stop spitting, but...oh wait...
I really do love to read the referrer logs of this site. Once or twice, you'll run across something disturbing, but most of the time you get a little insight into who people really are. Today, someone searched for "'Western Men' Expat Dating," and found a recent posting of mine on the topic. As I followed the searching link back, I found this lady in Shanghai who holds an alternative view to our friends over a China Dirt.
Anyway...What I want to say is how glad I am to see someone in China actually having a successful dating life. I will not go so far as to say every woman's experience in China should or could be the same, but I think some time should be spent to reflect on why her experience is different. In my book, she calls like it is, namely that guys will be jerks no matter where they are in the world. That's a given. Using excuses like "yellow fever" doesn't get to the core of the problem. Nor does the fact that average men become "reinvented" cover it either. She does, however, cut straight to the point and asks "why are you here?" and "why blame a man for your own unhappiness?" I'm jealous that she's actually allowed to ask this.
(side note: I should write more about the "reinvented" aspect of China.)
So now that I'm temporarily off my soapbox, let's move on to something a little lighter... The History of China(or here if you have Great Firewall problems)
With a little tweaking, this is sure to become a classic for every expat in China to read. There is no way to really cover this without diminishing from its true brilliance. I think the best thing to do is to cover my two points and let you decide:
3000 BC: Exactly 5007 years ago this Tuesday,
primitive man all over the world began to pick up objects using small
wooden sticks as tools. Two advanced primates along the Yellow River
basin decide that their way of picking up things with wooden sticks
indicates their superior level of civilisation, and establish the
foundations of Chinese civilisation after taking a sh*t in a hole.
And then there is the more recent:
1405: Admiral Zheng He and his men arrive on the east
coast of Africa: a feat accomplished 87 years before Columbus
discovered America. Zheng He and his men spend their time in Africa
walking around in a tour group and refusing to eat the local food.
After being asked to leave for saying the locals were “too black”,
Zheng He steals a giraffe, and cooks it upon arriving in China. The
giraffe disagrees with the stomach of the Chinese Emperor; Zheng He is
imprisoned and the African natives are then asked to apologise for
hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.
I've left a message for the author to continue his work by creating "Future History of China" document, which I would start writing myself if not for fear of stealing his intellectual property.
As usual, I'm getting a heck of a lot of hits for massages in Beijing (hence my constant mentioning of it), but today I discovered another interesting search result that can bring you to my site. Go to Google and type:
"Pass the Silverware"
Not only does it bring up my site, but I'm the first one listed. That said, I'd like to give myself a big pat on the back for being at the top of the "Pass the Silverware" rankings. It's a proud day. And as a marketing professional, I can't help but bask in the glory that my extensive China musings have been re-segmented into a site dedicated to utensil locomotion.
That said, I'd like to try to increase my hit rate by mentioning other inane references combined with something Chinese! Please feel to suggest other ones to me, we could almost make this a hidden product placement experiment. The first one to get a confirmed search reference from their idea wins...uhh...something...
Anyway, here's the list I have to date:
Post-modern Zoroastrianism in Southern Anhui province
Lemur infestations of the Lugu Lake locality
Shanghai: Future bastion of Beijing-hua
The health benefits of Jiaozi and Qingdao beer
Chairman Mao versus Jack Burton: The Return of Lo Pan's brother
Now I think I'll just sit back and let the hits roll in.
No posting lately due to my vacation. I'll talk about that some other time. I just wanted to note that when I got back today and reviewed some of the referral logs, one of them came from someone searching on Google for "cartoon characters getting foot massages."
I'm sitting in a lounge here at the Beijing airport waiting for my now two-hours late flight to Bangkok. On the TV screen in front of me is what looks like a documentary on the U.S. TV show Growing Pains. At first, I thought it was just the news and that Alan Thicke had died! But once I realized this wasn't the case, I had to wonder...is this show really influential enough in China to need a 30-minute documentary about it?
To top that off, the amount of time spent on Kirk Cameron's character was somewhat disturbing. Everytime I looked up at the TV, it seemed as though they were in midst of a character montage centered around him.
Is it possible that Mike Seaver is/was a sex symbol in China?
And more importantly, is there a potential Growing Pains: Family Trip to China movie in the works?!? If so, the subplots about Carol relapsing into anorexia after comparing herself to always-thin Chinese girls and Ben's fetish for young asian males could be somewhat disturbing. I am however hoping to see a brief cameo appearance by Coach Lubbock teaching young Chinese kids how to play basketball...