Shanghai… Oh, modern city of wonders, the
Thus for example the subway system; the city spends billions on it, filling the news with bluster about the city’s modernity and efficiency – and then closes one subway line at 10pm and the others shortly after. Now the last trains are always full – indeed sometimes so full it is almost impossible to get on board -- clearly indicating the people want to use them. But still they close at ten, ten-thirty, pushing crowds onto the street, all fighting for cabs which, at such times (and even more so in the rain) are exceedingly hard to find.
Or take the elevated highway network -- billions spent, and for a fucked up result. This is not just down to bad usage (though with
Or the maglev – another billion dollars’ worth – which can only operate at full speed for 45 seconds, since the track’s too short (indeed ending some miles out in Pudong, meaning that to get to the city center one must take the tube or a cab, thus making the journey by maglev barely faster than that by bus from the airport direct.)
Sure, the city has one or two areas that show some class; but on the whole it is a town of belching and barging, spitting and shoving, thieves and beggars… and those insane drivers.
But enough of this shouting. For the most part life here is ok, and so… back to burbling about women. Back to Deedee.
I’d heard nothing from her the day or two after class, so I thought she had likely tossed my card in the bin, brushing me aside with all the other guys that (I assumed) hit on her. But no; a few days later I get this message –
This is my phone number. After the final class you have give me your name card. Deedee.
I was deliriously glad she’d got in touch… and so of course I replied like the horny toad I am; we traded a few messages, during which she told me she was feeling sad, though she did not reply when I asked why.
Now my classes generally conclude with an oral exam a few days after lessons proper finish. Based on her lackadaisical approach to those lessons, I was pretty sure she would not turn up.
Yet turn up she did, though she came and went without doing the exam. I did not know she was there until she popped her head round the door to say she was going. This, I later found out, was because she had become tired of waiting. The way she put it suggested she thought the students were talking too much – but really that was not quite the case.
The interviews were taking a long time since I found one or two of the students quite interesting. One woman, Joan, especially so. I’d talked a little about politics in class (a waste of time since most students know zero about it and refuse to countenance any political view that does not enshrine the ‘China right, rest of the world wrong’ view.) She told me I ought not talk about this. Now in one way that was an expression of her rigid thinking, but in another, it was impressive. It is very rare for a student to talk back to the teacher like this, and I admired her for it.
Since that class I have got to know here a little better, and grown rather fond of her. Though I’m glad to have got to know her, back at that interview, I berated myself, reminded myself I was a cunt, since it seemed to me chatting with her at length had deprived me of Deedee. Thus I felt I had missed a big opportunity by chasing a smaller one.
After Deedee’s brief appearance, I interviewed one of the guy students; he was quite an engaging chap, interesting to talk to. He asked if he could record the interview—‘for Deedee, the cute student.’ So when he turned it on I took the chance to flirt with her in absentia, speaking into the mouthpiece that she should have come to the interview.
It did occur to me that maybe this guy had a thing for her too, and that this was his way of showing it; guys here are seldom direct, but woo by proxy in this way.
Not just guys; the indirect approach pervades so much of life here. The other night, for example, I went out for dinner with Tulip, a woman I am extremely fond of. She’s stuck in a rather odd marriage (married two years and still a virgin), and when we meet I usually ask her about it and usually urge her to get divorced; doing so, I am sure, would bring her greater happiness in her life, though of course it’s much easier for me to give advice than it is for her to follow it. She told me she had begun to push this option, saying to her husband, ‘If you find a better woman, you should go for her.’
She was waiting for his reply to this, she told me; but in some exasperation I told her she had not asked any question at all and that her husband, if he had said nothing about the weirdness between them by now, would not start to say it unless she raised it in a far more direct manner.
But I will return to Tulip later, since I want to talk about her (and the many ways in which she fascinates me) at some length.
As for this guy at the interview (who I have now totally forgotten – name, face, what we talked about; what I am writing here is reworked from my diary) – well, if I had been him I would have simply cut out my voice from the recording, for if this was my attempt to woo her I would not want some other guy on there. But I think guys here are not quite so cynical and calculating.
It’s possible of course he was just being helpful, and at the time I also wondered if she has just asked him to do it. But when, later, I took her to dinner, I mentioned this incident, and she knew nothing about it. That leads me to think the recording was indeed his bid for her, shrouded in a typically oblique approach.
I, of course, was totally the opposite to this, and just ran at her with my usual bull-like manner. I hurried home after the interviews to look up the Chinese character for ‘lazy,’ so that I could tease her in Chinese, and then I texted her to say Deedee，你太懒了！为什么你不来考试？哈哈
She said: 我怕老师
I replied: 你怕我？噢！我非常不高兴！
Then she said:是害怕考试我准备了好多天但是还是没有勇气这是我我的错对不起原谅我吧!
And again said: 老师别生气是我不好
So I: 我很生气！所以你必须见面我，喝一杯咖啡！
To which: 我不会喝酒不知道我可以喝果汁吗？
So I hit her for a date: 哈哈几天有空？
I ended this with ‘Good! I wanna get to know you better.. I’ll 短信u on Tuesday'
So that Sunday I hit her up again, suggesting we meet. She said, ‘除了周一我都有空.’ So I grabbed her as fast as I could, for Tuesday night, but not wanting to appear too keen and thus scare her off, I said coffee or dinner were both ok, but that I preferred the latter. And she: ‘我们吃晚饭吧！时间地点你说罢.’
My choice was obvious,
There’s no need to provide a translation for this, for it’s all obvious stuff; I reproduce it in the original Chinese just to show how desperate I was to impress her. I would imagine to a Chinese reader my attempt to do so is pretty risible.
Next evening we met… I’d half expected her to cancel, for surely a woman like her has guys ever after her and I was just one more? But not so; she even arrived a little before me.
As I walked up out of the tube, the crowds standing on the plaza above were revealed to my eyes. My eyes fastened on one pair of legs in particular, slender, shaped, clad in black stockings. The higher I rose up the steps, the more of these legs I saw, up and up a slice at a time, up to a short, short sexy, flouncy skirt.
That skirt alone was enough for me to expect it was her, even before I had come far enough up the steps to see her face; and it was. This skirt was sexy but curious – it was more of a tutu than a skirt, deep bronzy gold, ruffled and flounced. She looked like she had just come off stage. Those black stockings underneath and ah, those legs! How I imagine them clutching my back… and how I vowed to work to make that happen, how I vowed to take her home and fuck, fuck, fuck her that same night.