Monday, March 29, 2010


I can’t find my bank card. My fear here is not that someone steals all my money (yeah, enjoy all those RMBs I got rolling around in there!) but that I have to go to the bank and navigate the process of getting a new card. Talking to bank employees in any country is not really “in my wheelhouse,” as it were (things in my wheelhouse: charming Chinese high schoolers and old African-American women; nautical metaphors), and I’m especially worried about having to do all of this in another language. I think I still have a savings account from when I was 12 with like $70 in it at some bank because I’m too uncomfortable to go in and close it. This is the level of social anxiety that we’re talking here. Crippling.

Other emergencies: A while ago, Gristle sent Gus a text saying only: “我有事”. This translates literally as “I have thing,” but 我有事 sounds pretty big (to me, at least). People use it when they’re trying to get out of commitments (so it can be used in the “I have something to do” sense), but, out of context, it can be much more serious; for example, there’s a Chinese song called 《如果我有事》, which is translated into English as “If something happens to me.”

I found Gristle’s text message troubling. Gus and I both did. He’s had some health and family problems in the past, and I was worried that something terrible had happened. He doesn’t have a great support system in situations like those, as you might have guessed from the fact that he’s a 30-year-old man who spends a lot of time with two Americans in their early 20s who make fun of him on their blogs. I also thought it was possible that he was going to drop the “I’m-gay” bombshell, which bombshell I was not interested in his dropping, since it would push the sexual tension in our relationship to the breaking point and likely make our German tutoring sessions Zu Hot Zu Handle, to say nothing of the times when he has me take semi-nude pictures of him in our bathroom.

I could also imagine his “事” being something like, “my friend is moving; I volunteered you to move boxes of books for him, please head over immediately” which is a real event from my life with Gristle. (Another real-life request from Gristle: “I am looking after some Mexicans today. Can you help me?” I did not help on that occasion but Gus did and said he had a great time.)

You know what just happened? Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven” just came up in iTunes. Would it be the same, Gristle, if I saw you in heaven? When your birthday comes in heaven, will you still ask for your gift to be for us to take you to the Westin hotel in Guangzhou so that you can try defecating in their fancy toilets? (This happened too.) Things I’m worried you might continue to do in heaven, based on this song: hold my hand, help me stand, know my name.

In this case Gus texted him back, “什么事?” (“What’s the 事?“) and he responded, “I just bought a really big pear. Do you want some?” The easy answer being: fine, sure.

Let it never be said that I turned away a friend who came to me in a time of crisis. Obviously this doesn’t hold when it’s something to do with emotions or moral dilemmas; I’m thinking more “I’ve got some extra fruit”-type situations.