Sunday, September 6, 2009

(Chicken) Miscellany

Last night we ordered a dish approximately called "鸡杂 with vegetables". 鸡杂 literally means "chicken miscellany", which we expected to mean "chopped up chicken pieces" rather than "parts of the chicken we just had lying around", which, as it turned out, was what we got. Vegetables, plus chicken heart, brain, lung, whatever. Gus also ate something long and thin, which could be intestines, or part of the esophagus, or Something Else Chickeny. These are my strugglez.


Dear Mom,

It turns out that those swim trunks that you bought me a few years ago, which I didn't wear very often because I didn't really swim much -- those aren't really swim trunks. Now I know what you are thinking. You're thinking, those clearly are swim trunks because they came from a place that sells swim trunks, and they look and fit like swim trunks, and they clearly aren't shorts, so what else could they be?

Let me tell you, I'd be thinking the same thing.

But now I know better, because when Gus and I went to the pool on Thursday, just as I was about to get in to limply swim some laps of breaststroke (yeaaahhh) and then get winded and call it a day, a shrill Chinese woman ran out of her office next to the pool, screaming, YOU CAN'T GO IN THE POOL WEARING THAT.

Pardon? I said.

IT'S NOT ALLOWED, she said.

Why? I said.

They're not swim trunks! she said. My shift-key finger has gotten tired.

Actually, they are, I said.

You obviously don't speak Chinese, she said, let me call over someone who speaks English.

No, I said. Because, Mom, even though I talked in previous posts about how my Chinese was awful, I was partially exaggerating for humorous effect. I mean, I know how to say "those aren't swim trunks," which is the level we're at at this point.

But she called over a man who spoke English anyway. That woman explained to the man that I wasn't wearing swim trunks, and if she let me in the pool, then anyone off the street could just wear those sort of clothes and come swim. (Which doesn't sound like a problem, since "those sort of clothes" are swim trunks.)

The man looked at Gus and me and said, You may be able to wear those sort of clothes in America, but you're in China now. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

And then he walked away, and now I have to buy "racing style" swim trunks, which, as anyone who has seen me naked (hi, Dr. Stein!) will tell you, will make me look ridiculous.

Also, I have to wear a swim cap. Humiliating.

Love, Jon


We went to an opium war museum yesterday. Let me tell you, the Chinese are still a little angry about that whole thing. This is an actual picture and caption from the museum.

"British Queen Victoria fond of eternal colonial expansion."
One whole hall in the opium war museum was labeled "National Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign Base." Lots of great anti-drug propaganda, including malformed drug fetuses in jars. I got to see a Real Container of Real Marijuana, and what were supposedly chunks of opium, but were probably paper mache balls painted black. Drugs: just say 我不要.
Gus and I went to a Thai restaurant a few days ago. Jason and Gus had made me expect to see some serious ladyboys, but I did not expect to see ladyboys serve us food while they sang "Mickey" and danced with gay men in policeman's uniforms. Basically what I'm saying is that I didn't expect Thailand to be an Atlantis Cruise (yes, their tagline actually is, "The Way We Play").
We did have delicious curry, though, and our vegetables were totally Chicken Esophagus Free! (how's that for a tagline? thai restaurant, you can use that one gratis)
Lots more to say about the first week, but I will stop now because we have a teachers' banquet tonight that I need to start primping for. Last year Gus won an iron at the raffle so I'm puuummmpped.