Saturday, November 26, 2005

Too Much Information
We were awakened Saturday morning at about 9 with pounding on the door and some muffled shouts. At first it was hard to tell it from the mega pile driver thumpthumpthump of the ongoing 7-days a week construction project going on outside the window but after creeping to the door and peering through the peephole the mystery was solved.
The fish eye revealed three goons: one dressed as a cop, one posing as a mostly normal human being with stubble in a cheap business suit and the other as an apartment security guard. Apparently her visitors from last night had returned in hopes of catching us en flagrante.
C cautioned me to keep quiet and we waited them out until the door knocks and rattling and shouts ebbed and finally ceased 10 minutes later.
"Persistent bastards," I muttered. "Very un-Chinese. I wish we could get service like that in a restaurant." We waited another 5 minutes and I cautiously opened the door to find they'd left a gift.
It was a one page Chinese language questionaire and form from the "Neighborhood Security Bureau."
"What's that? Who's that?" I asked.
"Twenty years ago it was mostly old ladies who went to people in their neighborhood to do things like try to tell them not to get divorced," C said. "I don't know what they do now."
"Busy bodies. Chinese versions of the Cuban block captains," I said.
"Cuban block captains?"
"Never mind."
(It's an ongoing mystery to me why no mainland Chinese I've met yet has seemingly ever heard of Cuba, Castro or Che Guevera. You'd think that one of the only two fully communist countries left on the planet would rate at least a paragraph in their textbooks. Ironically, you can barely go a day here or in Hong Kong without seeing some youngster in a Che T-shirt, though Che might as well be JoJo the Dog Faced Boy or Charles Manson for all they know.)
The form asked for a photo of her and lots of information. Among the pertinent facts requested besides name, birth date, ID number were marriage status, employer, rent or own apartment, why she is in Shenzhen, where she came from, education level, number of children and ... birth control method.
Yup. Birth control method. The choices were:
"1. Medicine or tools (condoms, she explained)
"2. IUD.
"3. Tubes tied."
No questions about vasectomies or -- save 'tools' -- any mention of a male's responsibility at all so I'm in the clear, I guess. Imagine my relief.
I called an American friend, Patrick, here and told him about it. "She should write in 'My man is sterile,'" he suggested. I told her and we played around with a few other write-in responses like "My man is impotent and sterile but his tongue is still larger than your penis," and "No sex, please. I'm Chinese."
In the end she filled it out minus birth control info. We dropped it off with an old spare ID photo at the Lucky Number's security guard's desk, made him sign a statement saying he'd received it, photographed a copy of the offending form to prove she'd filled it out, and left for lunch.
We're also planning on moving out next month.
Re: earthquakes -- does it vaguely creep you out that there was, in fact, a semi-major earthquake? Granted, not in Harbin ... but ... I mean ... you know? Think about it.
Coincidental earthquakes don't creep me out as much as psuedo-officials hammering at my door, asking questions about birth control and scaring the bejeebuz outta my girlfriend.
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