The other day after coming out of a rather anonymous, slimy alleyway after slurping down yet another bowl of beef noodles, I had a rather disturbing experience. Upon exiting said alleyway, I caught sight of "them."
It's not that I hate white people. Some of my best friends are white. Hell, some people even consider me white! (All despite the fact that I've been living out here for, what, 8 months.) So it's not that I hate white people, or that I have some sort of racial prejudice against them. It's just that...gee, whiz, they look so funny.
Admittedly, what I saw could be termed as very white (white being a quantifiable adjective, as opposed to "pregnant"): a luxury bus with big, clear Plexiglas windows, teeming with American senior citizens. There they sat in couples, the men wearing light blue or yellow short-sleeved dress shirts, mesh caps, and large, squarish sunglasses; the women in paisley shirts and that permed hair style that every women over the age of 35 is required by law to have. They were mostly asleep, heads tilted back, mouths agape, saliva dripping on to their headrests. So they sat stuck in traffic, probably coming back from a fun filled day of having a tour guide wipe their ass through all 37 chambers of the Summer Palace, tuckered out and anticipating resting their weary feet in front of CNN in their 3 star hotel. And so they sat for the rest of Beijing to gape and gawk at: a fishbowl of foreign weirdness, stuck in the middle of the Third Ring road.
The weirder thing was the reaction I had. It wasn't one of nostalgia, or race solidarity, or even bemusement. It was a visceral feeling of disgust. Who are these strange people, with their flabby, hairy, pink arms? Go back home. You don't know anything about this place, furthermore you make it worse for the big noses who do live out here. Point in case: the other day I went down to the Silk Market to buy a pair of shorts, which I don't even know why I bothered to do. The Silk Market is this random alley with a whole bunch of stalls that sell fake brand named clothing (North Fake clothing as we affectionately call it) to all of the tourists who come through. The gimmick behind it is that you have to bargain for everything, which is a boon for the vendors since Whitey can't bargain for shit. For instance, this how an exchange might go between some fat, rich German tourist and a vendor.
Vendor: Hello! Hello! Cheap, cheap! Looky look!
Fat, rich German tourist: How much for this XXXL pair of shorts? I need another pair of shorts to show off my milky white, flabby calves.
Vendor: 120 kuai!
FrGt: (hems and haws) I don't know. Uh, how about 110?
Now, that's opposed to how I would handle the situation.
Vendor: Hello! Hello! Cheap! Cheap! Looky look!
Me: How much for these shorts?
Vendor: Oh, you speak Chinese very well! (note: they say that to every non-Asian looking person who ventures to say a "Ni hao")
Me: Whatever. How much?
Vendor: 120 kuai.
Vendor: OK, OK.
The problem is that because of these freaking' tourists, it's hard for me to figure out the true value of a pair of shorts. There's a rough rule of thumb that you can get about 1/3 to 1/2 of the original quoted price, but even then, I have a nagging suspicion that if a Chinese person just walked up and asked how much, he'd say 30.
In other happenings, my TV broke. It's a shame. There are some real interesting things on the boob tube. There's this aerobics TV program on all the time which has the meanest looking instructor grimacing "one, two, three" and has the most lewd Belgian techno music playing in the background. I remember one song that went something like: "Yeah, after the show, I'm going to take you back stage, and you're going to get on your knees and suck my dick, and then I'm going to fuck you up the ass, fuck you up the ass, fuck you up the ASS! Then I'm going to come on your back." They also have all of these other wonderful infomercials doing a wonderful job of imposing Western beauty standards on the unsuspecting populace. That would be mostly ads for creams to enhance your breast size, which feature Weird Science-like computer animations of breasts growing like mushrooms after a storm followed by minutes of camera shots at women's chests as they walk down the street, adjust their bra, etc. Ah, what wonderful entertainment.
If you're ever in Beijing, check out the Natural History Museum. The first two floors are boring jars of spiders in formaldehyde and dusty old dinosaur fossils (next to which, they sell cheap plastic Godzilla toys). But it's the third floor which is seriously fucked up. The least stomach turning thing there is about 8 or 9 jars showing aborted human fetuses at different stages of development. There are graphic pictures of all sorts of wacky STDs, involving all imaginable types of lesions and secretions. There are pictures of suicides that make www.rotten.com look like a children's book. But the crowning exhibit is a real human corpse, completely skinned except for the lips. I wouldn't be surprised if he was a member of the Falun Gong. Yummy. Of course, the place was filled with 6 year old Chinese kids laughing and running around.
Well, I think I've rapped to you long enough. For those who care, I might be out here as late as mid-August, since I have a friend here who might be able to get me a job on a tour boat that goes through the Three Gorges. Word.