Saturday, December 10, 2005

"We come from the land of the ice and snow, from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow...''(Immigrant Song)
So C is outta town and my pal Patrick's Cantonesesqueeze is in Hong Kong buying cashmere slacks when she originally went for some computer gear. Two guys sitting around Shenzhen thinking and drinking and talking about women while listening to Patrick's iPod random play -- Pixies, Paul's Boutique courtesy of the Beastie Boys and Bob Dylan's Dream. What else to do but hit Shekou -- once one of SZ's sleaziest expat areas but quickly becoming gentrified. Hell, a Papa John's pizza just opened there, though we chose an indie restaurant called Gypsy's which had the best Greek salad and babyback ribs I've had since the States.
Turns out though we discover after dinner that Shekou's Chicken Row is still going strong and we wind up in a small, tawdry but warm and comfortable bar that I'd landed in more than 2 years ago in a calculated misstep. It was all pretty much as I remembered, right down to the women physically dragging the staggering foreign males off the street and into their lairs.
Patrick and I were laughing and also literally trying to tear them off when I heard, "Teacher! Teacher! You come back!" No-yes-no-can't be, I thought. It was "Nina" a sort of Chinese Miss Kitty for anyone who remembers the soiled dove with the heart of gold who ran the Longbranch Saloon and flirted with (but never apparently slept with) the Virgin Marshall Matt Dillon on Gun Smoke.
She remembered me from my original stint here more than two years ago. Good enough. We allowed Nina and her belles to drag us into the Oasis, which hadn't changed a whit right down to Hotel California still playing as if it had never stopped since summer 2003.
Neither had the drink scams. You buy me drink? Say yes and she gets a non-alcoholic "Kaluha" and half of the 40 yuan (US$5) price as commission. I eventually bought two outta kindness I suppose, plus a Tsingtao for me. Soon a group of gutteral northern European types bulldozed into the Oasis and one sat next to me and made bleary eye contact.
"You are from?" he asked in a sort of SS-interregator voice that wasn't too far off from "Your papers, pleese?"
"United States. You're German?"
He laughed. "Very close. Denmark."
"More civilized than Germany."
"Not really." He laughed again and we both watched one of his too-much-fun pals do face plant on the bar as an enthusiastic bar girl kept massaging his back in apparent hopes of reviving him and his wallet. "Not really. We were the Vickings, you know. Now we're IT business consultants except after many Carlsbergs when we become Vikings again."
Point taken and indeed about 30 minutes later I went outside to check on Patrick who was fielding a peevish call from his galpal who'd returned and was miffed that he wasn't there to greet her though he'd told her clearly before that he'd be out and about and wasn't technically due back for another half hour or so.
"You missed it!" he said. "That drunk dude. The one who kept passing out? He came out here and a little beggar kid was hassling him. The guy picked him up like a sack and threw him into those bushes!" He pointed at some dented shrubbery that looked roughly like a busted door with a silhouette (coyote perhaps) in an old Warner Bros cartoon.
The beggar boy survived unscathed but quite shaken. And it's likely he'll think twice again before hitting up Styrkar, Eater of Souls and Retailer of Danish Hard Drive Systems for spare change. (Read Patrick's version of the tale over at Half A World Away.)
So you finally met a Dane IRL? Scary, eh?

We can be quite civilized too, but I guess most people would get a bit upset being hassled by a beggar boy in the midst of sleeping a buzz off ;-)
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