I'll Be Your Chinese Man

Trip Start Aug 25, 2010
Trip End Jun 29, 2011

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Flag of China  , Jiangsu,
Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I had to go watch shopping today.  One morning while we were in Qingdao, I was standing at the bathroom sink getting dressed and I dropped my beloved, vintage Omega on the toilet seat.  The minute hand came loose and I won't be able to get it fixed until I get home.  I brought another watch with me to China, but its battery is dead and I don't like it enough to wear it everyday anyway.

So, I went on a watch hunt today.  Sam suggested the Swatch store in Ba Bai Ban, so that's where I started out.  I saw plenty of watches that were cute and that I could wear sometimes, but nothing that I'd want to wear everyday.  I went around to every watch store or counter on the first floor of Ba Bai Ban and studied the cases intensely.  I was looking for a watch with a gold case and dial and, preferably, a black leather band.  I didn't want diamonds or any other sort of unnecessary bling.  

Needless to say, I had trouble finding something suited to my unreasonable standards.  I decided to go to Bread Talk and think over my choices.  Over a cappuccino and a slice of cheesecake, I decided to leave Ba Bai Ban and go to another nearby department store.  On the way there, I stopped in at a shop that sold knock-off designer watches.  I didn't see anything I liked.

At the second department store, there were even more watch counters than there were at Ba Bai Ban, and I was almost overwhelmed enough to just buy anything I didn't hate.  But I promised myself I wouldn't buy anything I wouldn't be happy to look at everyday, and I pressed on with my search.  Finally, I found the watch I was looking for, albeit with a brown band instead of a black one.  In Chinese, I asked the woman at the counter if she could change the band for me, and she said she couldn't.  It was no matter, though, because the knock-off shop I'd visited earlier had bands for sale.

So, I bought my new watch, which is by a Chinese-Italian brand called Rossini, and went back the to small knock-off shop.  The couple who ran the store were happy to change the band for me.  I left the downtown area happy.  I didn't think I'd find a watch that I really liked, but I did.  It took two hours of staring through glass cases and being watched closely by salesladies. 

The taxi ride back to campus was probably the most interesting I've had yet.  Amazingly, I was able to carry on a conversation with the driver the whole 20 minute ride from downtown to campus.  Matt said he was able to do this by the end of his first semester here, and though it took me longer, I never thought I'd be able to do it.

Before I say anymore though, let me be honest.  Matt's legendary chat was about current events and other meaningful topics, and mine was about my alleged beauty and marital status.  It was also repetitive, so I had lots of chances to think about what my driver was saying.
When I first got in the taxi, the driver told me I was beautiful and I told him he was wrong.  Then he offered me a cigarette and I told him I didn't want it.  He offered again, I said no, he offered again, I said no, then he offered a final time, and I said that I didn't like cigarettes.  He finally gave up.

After a brief pause, he started in on the "are you single" questions.  I missed the word for "boyfriend" initially, so the driver asked me if I had a "Chinese man."  I said no.  He then asked me if I had an "American man," and I said no.  Then he asked the dreaded question:  "Ni xi huan zhongguode nan ren ma?"  ("Do you like Chinese men?")  I told him sure, I think Chinese men are just fine.

I'm sure you can guess what came next.  He offered to be my "Chinese man."  He asked if I'd eaten lunch yet and I told him I hadn't, but that I planned to eat at a place near campus.  He then said, if my guess was right, that he had some free time and could take me back downtown for lunch.  I politely declined.

He was encouraged by my willingness to answer his questions though, and the next question he asked was whether or not I liked him personally.  I told him I did, but of course, I didn't mean for my answer to have any sort of undertones.  I knew, though, that I'd just dug myself deeper.  

My driver asked the next logical question:  If you like me, why won't you have lunch with me?  I told him, "Wo xi huan ni, dan shi wo bu ren shi ni"  ("I like you, but I don't know you").  He said that if I'd have lunch with him, I could get to know him.  I told him no again, he asked again, and I told him no again.

When he realized we were nearing my destination, he began to ask for my phone number.  I told him no.  He asked again, and I told him sorry, but no.  

Finally, the ride was over.  I paid my Chinese man 20 kuai for his services and said goodbye. 

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