Sunday, May 14, 2006

I Knew the Bride When She Used to Rock 'n' Roll
A slow, mostly hot and humid Shenzhen Sunday so C and I decided to hit a coastal park that features acres of manicured rough grass, fledging trees, a seaside view of Hong Kong across the water and a promenade. She and others call it "Red Wood Park" though there are no red woods as Californians and others in the US understand it.
But I've always enjoyed it if not just for the lengthy list of "Temporary Regulations" which greet visitors and have been there at least since I first visited it briefly on my 51st birthday three years ago with a SZ Daily coworker and her friend and her friend's apparently autistic 4-year-old son. At the time I asked about the kid but was told only that he "never talked" and the mother was reluctant to take him to a doctor because "4 is an unlucky age."
But signs, yes...mostly it's a standard list of universal "don'ts" with this final pronouncement: "Whoring, gambling, drug taking, feudalism and superstitions or other illegal activities are strictly forbidden."
Whoring, gambling, drugs...yes, hell, even "superstitions" - though that's a real reach, fortune telling I suppose and I kind of comprehend -- but can someone tell me how, exactly, one commits feudalism in a public park?
They were committing commercial pre-matrimonial rites though, arguably superstition, which C and I found after picking out a select shady spot and beginning to chow down on fresh peaches, spicy KFC wings and bannana chips. We'd staked it out but were soon outnumbered by seemingly throngs of nearly identical brides and grooms in rental dresses and white tuxes accompanied by photo crews.
It's big business in the new China and this was like seeing a Sunday afternoon dream factory cranking it out full bore. Presumably each couple had shelled out as much as US$900-$2,500 to stand around in the same park assuming the same poses and wearing pretty much the same wedding costumes for what would, depending on their budgets, become full blown photo albums (large and/or small), and various sized and garishly framed prints to decorate their love shacks until reality set in.
With the exception of one groom whose jacket looked like it was taken from a white quilted mattress pad, all the guys were in the same stock white tux. Not even a paisley cummerbund to revive the eyes.
All were heavily made up, causing C to comment that "all the girls look the same" and indeed it was startling how interchangable, except for the length of the bridal trains, veils and some small color details, the women looked. Even their busts looked identical -- all enhanced with the same 36-A padded bras.
"Did you have your pictures taken when you were married?" she asked.
My first was an assembly line service at the US embassy in Seoul for which my first one-and-only wasn't required to attend. The more formal union to my second old-time-used-to-be, I explained, was documented by a photographer from my then-newspaper who shot some great black and white candid photos.
"Do you still have them?"
"No. I think she did."
"Where are they?"
"I think she probably destroyed them." I didn't mention the video another newspaper pal had shot and how much I had enjoyed watching it in the months following the marriage and how it would make me cry now. Like how the sex was or the funny little moments and quirks that still make you smile remembering, there are some things one doesn't share.
At that tender moment, one photog began shouting "hello! hello!" and some Chinese at us. Another Replicant Couple -- number eight -- had arrived and we were in the line of fire for a shot that would later presumably show them sharing a blissful solitary moment in a Chinese Eden.
Thought that you might like this comment on one of our short discussions previously.
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