Monday, April 25, 2005

A Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)
A diverse weekend, to say the least. It more or less began by nursing C through a stomach bug while on a truncated trip with her ma to "Shenzhen Fairyland Botanical Park" at which the highpoint for me was the entryway warning sign illustrated with cartoon hookers, cops and thugs.
"Do not visit prostituting that is illegal and may cause to kidnapping and robbery! Do not get any touch of prostituting, gambling or robbery that is illegal!"
(Unlike another local park though, it didn't warn against "committing feudalism." But it left me wondering exactly what "touches" of prostituting, gambling and robbery were legal?)
Shortly before C tossed her lunch, I asked her why Fairyland, which also houses
the grand showcase Hong Fa temple why such warnings were necessary. Indeed, we were surrounded by nature-loving, idol-worshipping families and happy couples, hardly an apparent vice den. And the temple itself is so spiffy and inspiring that -- except for the piles of visitor trash cluttering the steps and grounds -- it was a bit like seeing a similar sign at Chartes or St Peter's.
Matter of factly she explained that Fairyland probably was a flesh pot "just like Lotus Park." Lotus Park is only several blocks from the Lucky Number and the first public park I'd visited when arriving in Shenzhen. I've since made half a dozen or more return trips - some with C - and never seen a sign of "chickens" (as hookers are termed in China) or any other unsavory behavior, except the ubitquitous litter.
I was mystified.
"What times have you been there?" she asked rhetorically.
Between 10am and 6pm.
"After dark there are a lot," she insisted. "From 20 yuan (US$2.40) to 120."
I didn't press for further details as she suddenly began to turn green, gripped her stomach and lurched for a bush,
She'd recovered by evening and we hit a gathering organized by James the Temple Guy at a club he favors called The Jazz Club. James has been here a little more than a year and it's been a small joy recently to see how life has improved for him. Not that it's been any serious hell, but he initially more or less arrived for love after meeting a Chinese-native soulmate in LA. Her subsequent, er, extreme mood shifts followed by a quick and largely mysterious exit after they'd moved in together didn't exactly sit well but he perservered. He's since found a new, more stable Filipina love and was in his glory onstage at the Jazz Club surrounded by friends and admirers while backed by a Chinese trio (clarinet, keyboards and drums) while he belted out Route 66 and Rock Around the Clock, among others.
Perhaps only in China, I thought, can a guy pushing 50 completely reinvent himself as a jazz/pop idol. And only in China does one have to minutely, painfully instruct the bartender on how to pour a double.
C was having a double Absolut on the rocks, I was having a double Beam on the rocks; doubles because they are the size of normal singles in the US. Foregoing the overworked waitresses I went straight to the source, smiled and bellied up to the bar and began talking, very, very slowly. I know it's ludicrous to talk slowly to someone who can't understand your language - it sure doesn't help when a Chinese speaker does the same to me - but he did seem to catch a few words, like "vodka" and "Jim Beam."
"Two drinks. One Absolut vo-od-ka. One Jim Beam. Whis-key. With ice. Bing!" (Bing is Chinese for ice. He smiled and nodded enthusiastically as we met on common linguistic ground) "Bing. In both." Then I pointed to the shot glass and mimed pouring two shots in one glass.
He looked seriously puzzled. I called to a Chinese speaking foreigner near me. She rattled off the instructions but warned me to oversee the procedure.
The barkeep carefully poured bing in two glasses. Then he picked up two more glasses and poured one shot in each one. He paused. I pumped my fist and made a 'V' sign. "Yes! Now again!"
He slowly poured another bourbon shot in one glass, vod-od-ka in the other and looked up for further affirmation that he was on the right track.
I bobbed my head, then reached over and impetuously poured the vodka into one 'bing' glass. (Never mind wondering why they don't save on dirty glasses by just pouring directly into the glasses with ice. I've long since given up pondering that, along with the concept of free will, does God have a fractal nature and how to commit feudalism in a public park.)
He then picked up the bourbon and almost poured it in with the Absolut. "Together?" he asked brightly, as I grabbed his hand, did a grimace smile and said, ''No, no. No, thank you!"
Tomorrow, a visit to the exlusive Hong Kong Jockey Club club house in which our protaganist is hopelessly out of his element among wealthy, over-dressed HK society mummies, anorexic, rictus-like models and washed-up actors dining on seabass mousse with pencil asparagus while he is relegated to HK$20 coupons for in the Jocky Club cafeteria and completely misses the real story.
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