Tingting was a doctor, and married. Ah, now, married women…
This is worth a digression. It seems to me that, taken on the whole, Chinese men are nice, kind, decent…. And dull, passionless. They’re often less voracious than Western guys, have fewer of their -- our -- wolvish ways. But they are dull, dull, dull.
I should say that I am a teacher here in
Relentlessly social, I have a wide circle of friends, 98% of them women. Indeed, of the 500 or so contacts on my various IM lists there are but a handful of guys. And of the married women friends I have become close enough to really talk, all are either unsatisfied or outright unhappy with their marriages – indeed, in all the years I have been teaching I have seen only one married couple in class who were obviously, clearly, truly in love.
Sure, and part of this is just because of the cultural difference, for people here, especially the slightly older, married ones, do not show affection in public. But even so… I do believe there’s a great deal of .. well, not actual unhappiness, but just dissatisfaction. I got to know one woman, Linda, quite well recently since I was helping her with her application for some aco stuff, and since I worked hard at it for her she invited me to dinner to thank me. She took me to a great place, too, a buffet in the Jin Mao, up high, with great views across the Huangpu,
Right, I had already worked out that this was the case, but I was indiscreet enough to ask her, ‘So, if you had the chance to do it again, would you still marry him?’ She said she would not.. but since she has a 7 year old girl divorce isn’t really an option. It’s so sad.. and a common story.
Tulip, for example – she’s in a sterile marriage – so much so that it is unconsummated. And Belinda, with whom I had lunch yesterday, recently ended her unhappy marriage (it was a good lunch; the right signs were there; the next step is dinner then bed); and then there’s Clarissa (a woman I wanted bad and never got… she’s emigrated now – and maybe just as well else I’d have fallen for her too hard) – and Carolyn (about to divorce when last I spoke with her); and so on.
But for now just Tingting will do. She was – ha, aren’t they all? – a student in one of my classes. This was some months back, March or so, and she caught my eye pretty soon off the start. She was a little shy, but there was mischief in her eye, mischief and amusement. And, and her eyes, deep, liquid, loquacious…Hidden laughter there, secrets.
At the end of the course (for even I have some basic scruples, and try not to hit on a woman while she’s still a student) I gave my email to the whole class – as I do with every class – but made sure to say to her, firmly, ‘Stay in touch.’ She did, and anon I arranged dinner with her.
How are you these days?busy ?
I guess you’ll find it out, but I feel nervous when I think about our meeting next Tuesday. This will be the first time I’ve met a person I am unfamiliar with alone. I don’t know your cultural background, how you think, or what your habits and interests are. And I can’t express myself well in your language, and you cannot express yourself well with mine. So please don’t be angry if I seem a bit nervous.
Still, I’m looking forward to next Tuesday!
When we met – she carefully dressed, nicely made-up – said again that she was nervous. In the cab, as we talked, however, she mentioned a husband in Taizhou - something I had not expected at all (I'd thought she was maybe 24 or 26; she's 32...). But my initial chagrin at this soon gave way to a more philosophical reading – her husband was in Taizhou
Such nerves as she had soon disappeared as we chatted at the restaurant, the conversation flowing easily, and me sitting next to her, at right angles, not opposite, the better to whisper close and quite to her. Place I took her to was a small local chain Clarissa had introduced me to, and I’d been there a few days before with someone else.
Now at this time I had thought it would be a good idea to cut back on beer, so I had decided—ha – not to drink that night. But she wanted a beer. And, since I wanted to seduce her, I knew this was the way to get her to overstep her married scruples. So we drank – and she drank really rather well, matching me pace for pace over four bottles (she is from the north of
What I most wanted to know was if he was the passionless fish that so many guys here are. But I did not really need to ask – he doesn’t come to see her, wanted to get hitched too soon after getting to know her (that's often a sign of a marriage made for social reasons.) Yeah, he’s the trad type, decent I’m sure but no imagination. And certainly it was easier to think of him that way considering what I had in mind, snatching his wife away from him.
And so as we left the restaurant to walk a while I put my hand round her shoulder, and her waist; but she did not want to hold hands. So there were limits to be pushed past, I saw. Walking her away from the busy streets down one quieter, dark-pooled road, I stopped walking, turned her to me.