Sunday, May 25, 2008

Thursday night madness, and did someone just turn up the heat?

A massive heat wave rolled into Beijing this weekend, just in time to get us in shape for China Open -- the Chinese-equivalent of Ultimate Frisbee Nationals, I suppose -- which is next week. Our Saturday practice wasn't fun (lots of sprints; heat-refractive astroturf), and after today's pickup I dry-coughed for 20 minutes. My mild intermittent asthma -- doctor's phrase, which I think means, "Please buy inhaler and support local pharmacist" -- could use some treatment about now.

On Thursday the group of us ate at a place with an ashen sort of name, the type illuminated by dim colors and nighttime sounds -- idle chatter, the occasional car, meat over an open fire, insects crashing into neon -- with a bucolic, back-roads sort of feel that's very homely and inviting. I'm not completely certain that description makes sense, but hopefully it conveys something. A quiet and a comfort born out of familiarity, and here we were, a group of dirty, stinky (sweaty) outsiders throwing our gibbering and balderdashing voices into their cozy little alcove. Here're some pictures:

The following three pictures I call Jim 1, Jim 2 and Jim 3 (to avoid confusion... they're the same person).

Jim, who I've spoken of before, started chatting up the servers, all of them female, flirty and quick to laugh. During the course of the dinner, he also noticed a few girls peering from behind the window, probably thinking something along the lines of, "Look, laowei, how cute!" so he smiled and waved, and lo and behold, they waved back. I still don't know how he does it.

Later in the night -- the four pictures below were taken after this happened -- Jim tried picking a fight with a group of Europeans. He decided to do this because of three reasons, as far as I can tell:

1. We were in Sanlitun, a Westernized bar district frequented by lots of the swill of the earth.
2. Someone kept putting shots in front of our noses -- there were at least two tequila shots I shouldn't have done, not after the baijiu earlier in the night -- and very few of the girls in the bar (Shooters) would dance with us.
3. Someone in our party (Ken, was it?) said, "You know, we've been in Beijing or a while now, and we haven't gotten into a fight yet..."

I distinctly remember being in the bar and watching two girls on the dance floor when Ken tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Come on out, we'll need everyone we can get for this." This is how I found out Jim was instigating a fight, and doing an incredibly fine job of it. Unfortunately, the guys he targeted -- all of them bulkier than us, though none of them Irish-Brooklyn like Joe -- squeezed into a cab and drove off. Joe shouted lots of profanities and other funny things at them as Ken mockingly held him back.

Ken, Chris and Joe, the Irish-Brooklynite.

Joe sad that Jim's walking away.

This picture deserves its own story.*

And finally: the damage from the dinner.

I believe there are 12 bottles (these are big ones) of 12%-AC Yanjing (a malt liquor) in the above picture, but that was taken before Jim and I ordered 10 more. We started putting empty bottles on the other side of the table...

*Okay, the story. This was nearing 4 a.m. in Sanlitun and Jim, Joe and I were the only ones left. We sought out a massage parlor (notice the pink lights) and knocked on the door. A half-naked guy opened up and said the girls had gone home. "But this says 24 hours," Jim said, pointing to lettering on his right. To which the guy replied to some effect of, "The girls have gone home, but I have condoms to sell."

And Jim's response: "The sign says 24 hours, why do you say the... wait, what?"

He said some other things, to which the guy answered with a half-asleep, disinterested, semi-disdainful stare and absolute silence, the sort of silence that takes a massive effort to pull off. If I had videotaped this scene you would find it humorous, no doubt: a laowei speaking fluent Chinese to a massage parlor boss dumb and mute in front of a sign that says, "Open 24 hours." (Though now that I think about it, I'm willing to admit to the possibility that there was no such sign.)

Later Jim got into a tiff with a taxi driver, and the last thing I remember before passing out on the floor of my apartment was tottering on my bike and nearly (nearly) falling off about six times. This was about 4:30, by the way. My courtyard's night watchman noticed and tattled on me to Jiujiu the following day, saying that I looked "a little wobbly, possibly drunk."

POSTSCRIPT: Kevin Reitz has more photos here.

1 comment:

Kevin Collier said...

One month in China, and you've got a team for Natties? You're a real ringer.

Speaking of ringers, I picked up with some of your SW teammates at a Yonkers hat tournament Sunday. We won.