Well, I finally had the (dis)pleasure of hanging out with Americans other than Scott. Like most things in China, the most eventful nights happen when you’re in your pajamas. Two nights ago was one of those.
Let me first say that these past few days have been insanely busy. I have lost my debit card, got some gnarly virus on my computer, rented out an apartment, decided I am going to stay in said apartment for a year, found my debit card, and found that I have some pretty god damn good friends in Beijing.
Back to our normally scheduled programming: I was in my pajamas because I had just come back from renting out an apartment in Beijing. The place we have now (though I am still writing this in the pink jail cell–the Chinese bureaucracy does not let us move out from the old place till we register at the new place, which requires that we have our passports, which [ironically] another part of the Chinese bureaucracy is currently processing) is awesome. Minus the bathroom, but honestly, how much time do you actually spend in the bathroom? Anyway, high on life (not for lack of trying to locate other stuff, however. Kidding.) filled with every intention of moving in the next day, Scott and I were doing our laundry. Fortunately, that did not quench our thirst for the celebration of our purchase, so we decided to go out and celebrate in good ol’ Beijing style–by getting kao yang chuanr (烤羊串儿) and beer. Kao yang chuanr translates, pretty much verbatim, to roasted lamb skewers. They are about 1yuan/skewer, and are freshly cooked to order. You just have to trust me that these things are amazingly delicious. There’s nothing like having your chuanr seasoned by wood coals and the smoke of liquefied fat from chuanrs kao’ed long past, with the final touch of sesame seeds and spiciness added right before serving. I think we have gone to this same restaurant for at least one meal a day for the past two weeks, but the food is always so damn good that I never take a picture. They are open from something like 6-2, and that’s AM to AM. Gotta love the Chinese. This particular night, we headed over, ordered our requisite 20 chuanrs, with a side of kao mantou and shui jiao (not ‘sleep’, silly, ‘water dumplings’), and two beers. We turned around, and much to our chagrin, the only seats open were next to two white people.
Let me digress quickly (though pretty much all of my writing tends to be one digression after another; bear with me)–there was a time, long past, when I would have been excited to see a fellow laowai in China. Seeing a fellow whitey would mean a sharing of experiences, a little nostalgia of home, some legit drinking,and other general Western buttsniffing. Not anymore. Beijing is filled with Americans. Virtually none of them speak discernible Chinese. If I sound like a pompous ass, it’s because I totally am–I have found maybe one American who speaks enough Chinese to get around and deal with the shit that inevitably hits the fan when in a foreign country, and that’s me. Scott, for the most part, gets it done as well. Now, while I probably should stick my foot in my mouth and admit that I don’t know even close to how much I think I know about China, its language, and its culture, I have to admit that, as far as I’ve found, Americans’ Chinese is significantly worse than I expected it to be.
10/4/09 EDIT: When I started this entry almost a month ago, I was originally going to go on a rant about the displeasure of hanging out with Americans in China, but after meeting several of the 50+ University of London students who are studying abroad at BNU as well, Americans are a well-received respite from those pompous pricks. It’s no wonder we declared our independence from (and subsequently handed their asses to) them. According to the English, Americans are all ‘sepos’. After distilling the ‘douchebaggery’ out of that term, you are left with ‘septic tank’, because according to the English, every American is full of. The redcoats aren’t ALL bad, but I swear if I have to sit through one more unprovoked, backhanded insult to America or American culture, I’m going to dump all of their tea in the ocean. Again.