Monday, January 01, 2007

Shoot Out the Lights
"I've been thinking hard about this and tonight has to be number two or three in my Top 3 Worst New Year's Eves," I told C in clipped tones via cell phone at about 10pm that night as I was on the bus from Shenzhen to Hong Kong.

I'd just done the mature adult male thing -- men always leave, doncha know? -- and had cut short what had initially promised to be an uneventful, maybe idyllic Dec 31-Jan 5 or 6 respite in Shenzhen. But following one of those domestic spats that flare suddenly outta nowhere for no apparent reason on -- in this case New Year's Eve -- I was outta there.

Up 'til 8:30pm things had been mostly perfect, too perfect perhaps, for an age and culturally divided couple living on the edge of the guy's dwindling unemployment savings/borrowings. A day of relaxation, slow lunch, reading, some tunes, Prison Break (thank you, PRC pirate video empire) and some separate interests as in I prepared a modest evening's repast of pasta, chicken, (hard to find) artichoke hearts, wine and (equally hard to find) avacado salad while she went to her piano lessons. (Note to discerning playwrights: if a gun or a mention of a piano appears in the first act, rest assured that chaos will ensue by the third).

She even lit candles upon returning, sigh. A night out for dancing, drinks and New Year frivolity was already planned, that is, until midway through her second helping of fake fancy pasta chicken she asked about....

Well, forget about specific details. But theoretically let's say you were unemployed at present, expecting new employment in about 15-17 days, but sucking air financially and with nothing but a half month's paycheck following that and you were already deep in hock, theoretically of course, to the Hong Kong tax leeches plus Visa etc in the USA, how would you respond, in a theoretical sense, of course, to a sudden question over candle light and (hard to find) avacados and artichokes, such as: "When will you buy me a piano? In January or February?"

As we're dealing purely in metaphors, symbols and coded language here, let's not assume that a piano was the specific point of the puzzling question. Maybe it was an F-17 jet. Or a sable-lined BMW. Or a simple request such as "When will you bring the only grandmother who loved me back from the dead?"

No matter. I sucked it in, put down my (rare, very rare to find, much less to savor in Shenzhen) forkful of avacado and without raising my voice said: "You know, it's been a swell New Year's Eve. But no (fill in the blank, piano, jet, sable lined BMW, resurrection) will be immediately forthcoming until I get my taxes and other sundry debts under control. Please be patient. And pass the pasta."

You know the whooha about global warming? Twenty seconds with C after my reply could reverse the whole shebang. 10th Avenue Freeze Out, as Bruce once sang. Big time glacial zone because Santa can't pony up a (fill in the blank, maybe a piano) in a month or two. I retreat to the bedroom to re-read a Brit thriller for the second time and she bolts to sulk on the Internet with her virtual pals. An olive branch as in "Uh, are you interested in still going out tonight for New Year's?" is met with stone, soul ummmph. Nearly silence. Worse, though.

So I thought about it. Do I want to spend this night and probably most of the next day in a stone frozen cold zone or do I want to scamper back to Hong Kong where my warm amiable CD pals Zimmy, Mick and Keef, Prince, The late, great Godfather, Townes, and Warren Z, and, yeah, Neil singing "Why Do I Keep Fucking Up?" will not only reinforce my sense of self-pity and justification but also not talk back to me? Damn sure, they won't ask me to buy them a piano. I'm outta there.

The cell rings midway to Hong Kong. It's C and she's kinda sorry. I'm also one sorry s.o.b., but the train (or bus in this case) keeps a-rollin' and we both do a blahblahblah semi-making up, but not completely dialogue.

And I reflected on the worst New Year's Eve ever for me. One of two, actually, both involving my first wife, but this one in particular whereupon we received an invite from our married Korean insurance agent and "family friend" (who had just firmly broken off a three year affair with me) for a New Year's Eve party at her home. At the time I decided to deal with the ensuing juju in an adult and entirely mature manner by swallowing a load of magic mushrooms that had been steeped in a bottle of Jim Beam for about 8 months.

Not the best decision. Wrong call. I'll spare most details like the towers of flames I hallucinated while driving to the illcit locale of many of our former assignations (she preferred her place to cheap motels) and the eerie facial and verbal tricks (plasto-people from Hell's cafeteria third shift if that makes any sense) that greeted me when my soon-to-be ex and I arrived to ring in the New Year. I wound up holing up with my former lover's 14-year-old son in a study watching reconstituted Aerosmith rock in New Year's Eve on MTV or something and midway through muttering something like: "Your mom was sure good in bed."

"Wha? Huh? Mr Mitchell?"

"Your, uh, I said, "I think, your, I said, I said, mother has a good head. Very smart. A very nice person. And, uh, do you think we can do something about those flames, by the way? Thanks."
Sounds like the discussion I had with my own C person about, say...a dog (which we aren't allowed to have in this block), a house (which we can't afford), a car (which we can't afford) or a sofa (which would be nice, but not possible financially either these days). Well that’s just one of the few picks.

I'll make sure my C never hears about any such thing as a piano too. Thanks for the hat tip and have a happy New Year, when you decide to enter! :-)
What is it with women? I have been over my finances with my girlfriend in painstaking detail, more than I really wanted, making sure she knows how much I owe and how much I'm about to spend on medical. And then the other day we're looking in a shop window at Tag Heuer watches and she says I should get one and I say there's no way I can afford a watch that costs 60,000 baht (roughly US$1,500) and she says of course I can afford it and I'm left wondering if she ever actually listens to anything I tell her.
Well, i am glad I am not the only one who goes through this shit.
What I am struggling with is, do I get more pissed off at the question like this (Piano or fill in the blank) or the frozen silence when I do not give the right response?
The way I am dealing with this idiotic financial questions at the moment is, I answer back with a similar idiotic question (usually it is the question about finishing her High school Diploma), I know she doesn't want to talk about it. About half of the time I am successful with this ploy, the other times it's the freeze.
First I didn't like what I was doing, now it's kind of "so what".

Perhaps the whole thing is just a phase when one comes from having nothing to have suddenly something available, the borderline between affordable, saving and short term vs longterm spending becomes kind of murky, just guessing ....

My first Chinese girlfriend use to give me the silent treatment all the time. Got sick of it and eventually dumped her after 1.5 years. Now I tell all girlfriends (before we get too close) that silence is unacceptable, and I will dump them as soon as they start doing it. So far it's worked pretty well. Too many Chinese girls just want to run around like a retarded 2nai and refuse to grow the fuck up. If you don't help them change their behavior who will?

Your story about the #1 worst Christmas was pretty fucked up. I hope you were using the shrooms as a literary device... Otherwise... Damn you're stupid. But at least you're funny as hell. Nice Blog.
My very own Chinese C didn't even bother turning on her phone on New Year's Eve. Or Christmas Eve. Or Christmas day, for that matter. She's in Cali, and I'm back in STL for the holidays. Her silent treatment has given me an ulcer. I've called her probably 3 dozen times today just to make sure that she hasn't turned it on -- and if/when she does, it'll just ring 5 or 6 times before I get her voicemail.

It sucks. I was in China for this girl for nearly 3 years; after 3 months in the USA, she's done with me. I don't get it. I can't just blame her Chineseness, or her femaleness, or her Chinesefemalenss -- though certianly those things have to be factored in. I've come to the really completely sad conclusion that this person isn't a very good person. Hurts a lot.

I just hope that you and your C get over that New Year's eve. I'm afraid there's no going back for me. Good luck to all of you other guys who still have your Zhongguo cuties. Wish I still did.
As was once said by a great philosopher "you can't live with 'em, and you can't live without 'em."

Thank you for reminding me why I got divorced.

Hope it works out in the end for you.
Ever tried just giving telling them "in a couple of months" or some other unspecific date in the future?

I also got tired about all these Asian ladies' plans for spending money in the near future. But I noticed that they did not really bother if the purchase (or the trip) never took place. They just picked up another $ream.

Manana works.

But the silent treatment is ugly.

However it seems that overall your girlfriend is nice and a keeper. Nobody's perfect, although you seem to be improving your performance. Maybe she can too.
The recent outages and hiccups in Internet service have frustrated my attempts to post comments, but here I go:

* Congrats on the new job!
* If I had been in your position, I would have scrammed back to HK too.

I won't say anything else about the situation with C. because (1.) I don't know anything other than what you've posted here and there in this blog ... and (2.) I don't want to put myself in the same position as Jerry, Elaine, and George w/respect to Kramer after the K-man reconciled with his gf in "The Dog".
At least you didn't admit to bonking someone else.
My then girlfriend once said she thought it was good idea for me to do so.
"You know, I think you should bonk someone else!" she said as I was trying to go to sleep.
"What?" I said pretending to be sleeping already.
"I said I think you should bonk someone else!"
"I just want to go to sleep!"
"No really!"
"No really what?"
"I think you should bonk someone else!"
"It's late"
"I think you should bonk someone else!"
"I don't wat to talk about it!"
"It's ok to talk. You must bonked someone else at some time during our relationship!
"I don't want to talk about it"
"Will you let me go to sleep if I talk about it"
"Ok I once bonked someone"
"You bastard....
Days of weeping ensued followed by separation.
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