Friday, February 12, 2010

On Friendship

(I was planning on having this post up earlier tonight, but then I spent 2 hours alone in my room watching high school students' lipdubs on youtube. It happens.)

So I just got back from a great trip to Thailand where I visited my best bud/fellow noise pop advocate J-Gil (hold the cream cheese), and I plan on posting about that trip as soon as I manage to wash off all the scented oils that I had rubbed/poured onto me during my time there. But today I don't want to talk about that. I want to talk about Gristle.

Gristle and I have a complicated relationship. I wouldn't call us "friends", really, because I would never, ever tell him anything personal or go to him in a time of need. And it's not like I really enjoy hanging out with him. But, on the other hand, if we're not friends, why did he ask me to take a picture of him in the shower this morning?

Let me back up.

Several weeks ago, Gristle came over to our apartment because he said he wanted to learn how to iron clothes. By now this sort of request doesn't seem strange at all from him. Several months ago he texted me to ask me to research American real estate prices because he has several hundred thousand American dollars lying around and wants to buy an apartment somewhere in the midwest. I don't know which is weirder, the idea that he would make up such a ridiculous story, or the idea that he actually has this money and someday he'll live in America, and I'll bring my children to visit his house and play with his chickens or whatever. In any case, I've become fairly desensitized to his text message communiques.

Pause for a second to note that he just texted me to say that the temperature is going to drop in Guangzhou tomorrow. Thanks, Gristle! You and my dashboard weather widget have got me covered.

So Gristle "learned to iron", which actually involved his sitting and talking in our living room while Gus ironed some shirts. He then borrowed our iron and ironing board, and walked out of my life for a few weeks because he was exceptionally busy with tutoring jobs in the lead up to Chinese New Year.

Two days ago Gristle and I went out to lunch, and I asked if we could have our ironing board back because I had some clothes to iron. He said he would bring it over to our apartment the next day, and he asked if he could also take a shower at our place. He said that he was out of natural gas at his apartment and he didn't want to buy more for the month, since he was about to go home for new year. Fine. He then said that maybe I could iron some of his clothes for him while he was in the shower. I told him that wasn't going to happen.

So yesterday he was supposed to come over at 9 am so he could drop off the iron and shower, but 9 am rolls around and he doesn't show. I text him at 10 to see if he is alive, not because I'm worried about him, but because I'm trying to plan my day around a 30-year-old man who is coming to our apartment to shower because he doesn't want to pay his utilities. He did just put in an offer on a condo in Kansas, though, so I guess money's a little tight right now. Still no word from Gristle. At 11:30 I text him again to say that I'm going to go to lunch, and that he can still come over in the afternoon if he wants, but he should text me beforehand because I might not be home. I don't hear from him. He finally texted me at about 4 pm to say that he had had a headache when he got up that morning and that he offered 120,000 apologies (十二万分抱歉!) for having missed our appointment. It's ok, Gristle. Don't need that many apologies.

Then, this morning at 7:58 am, while I was still sleeping, I got a text from Gristle: "起床没有?" ("Are you up?") Yes, Gristle. Now I am up. And then he said that I should come over to his place to help him move things.

So it's 8 am and Gristle woke me up to help me carry things from his apartment. I got a feeling that today's gonna be a good day! Guangzhou: let's live it up. I get in the shower and then go over to Gristle's apartment (the one in China, not the one he's buying in America), where he gave me my iron, ironing board, and a gallon container of cooking oil to carry back to my apartment. When we got back, he said that he wanted to take a shower quickly before lunch. I gave him a towel, and then he said, "oh, Jon, do you have a camera?"

"Why do you want a camera, Gristle?"

"I want to take pictures of myself while I'm showering."


"Just from the waist up!"

"No," I said. Because if I let Gristle use my digital camera in the shower he would certainly drop it or get it wet or actually use it to take a picture of his penis.

"OK," he said, "just leave it outside the door and I will take pictures afterwards."

I did not really want him taking pictures at all with my camera, but I couldn't refuse him this small request after everything he's done for me (footage not found), so I said OK.

After his shower, he took some pictures and then called me and asked me to take pictures of him in the bathroom. I did not want to do this. But I went into the bathroom, and there I found Gristle wearing a towel (thank god), doing what he called his "Playboy" pose.

And I took pictures of him. 19 of them. They're on my computer right now. They all basically look like this.

Then he put clothes on and took me out to lunch. And that, Jason, is true friendship.