Sunday, June 25, 2006

This Week's Menu

Having been busy every evening this week, I have had little chance for dinner and the chase – though I did fit lunch with Clarissa on Monday and coffee with Anita on Wednesday.

Clarissa, whom I have mentioned in passing before, is back in China for a few months, having emigrated overseas last June. I remember the date she left very clearly, since the night before I had dinner with her and her husband (a good looking guy, but one who does not quite fulfill her). On the way back from that dinner, having given her a colossal hug goodbye (and him a handshake) some fat chick on the tube heading to the station to get a train back to her nearby hometown wanted to practice her English on me. Happy enough to oblige, I even gave her my phone number when she asked for it, and for six months after that put up with her mithering sms questions, and did it gladly too, for the sake of her random, tenuous connection to Clarissa. Fat girl (who I named in my phone address book merely as ‘some chick’) was a connection to the last day I saw Clarissa; that made her important. And that shows what Clarissa is to me.

I did not know Clarissa was coming back. A few days ago, ten a.m, my mobile rings, with Clarissa’s name on the display. Not having had enough sleep from the night before I was groggy, confused. ‘Is that Clarissa?’ I asked. It was. ‘Where are you.. in China?

‘Yes’ she said, and then, ‘trouble!’ and rang off. I did not quite know what to make of it. But a few minutes later, the doorbell. It was her. And to see her filled my heart with joy… She did not stay for long, telling me she had appointments to keep, but wanted me to be the first person she saw outside her family after arriving home.

But this lunch we had was more recent. At that lunch she brought her friend along, Showy, who I had met at Clarissa’s wedding. Showy too is married.

Clarissa had suggested we eat at the Changshu Lu branch of 博多新记. (It is an excellent place. Normally I go to the other branch of the same restaurant at Fuxing Xi Lu and Xiangyang Lu; indeed, that was where I began my seduction of Tingting. It is not as fine as some other places, but it has its own advantages. Prime among these – other than the great food – is the fact that it is overwhelmingly a local restaurant. It is rare to see foreigners in there, and no-one speaks English nor are the menus translated. Going there, then, gives the date the impression that I have truly embraced Shanghai, that I do not just move in the expat-only circles. It’s also worth a visit since the Heineken girl they have there is remarkably cute. Though since I only ever go there with a date, it is pretty much impossible to do anything about her.)

Anyhow, at the Changshu branch, there were only outside tables were left when I arrived. I was sitting at one of these, waiting for her, my camera ready to picture her. Soon enough, she arrived and my joy surged as she did…

But outside was too hot, she felt, so I suggested we walk down to the nearby Yang’s Kitchen, and there we had a nice lunch, easy conversation. Though Clarissa and I flirted, I began to see that Showy was rather cute too.

At one point, Clarissa made a joke about married women finding lovers, and as she said it I raised my eyes to meet Showy’s. She is rather sexy, and married women make the best lovers. She met my eyes with the briefest look of surprise, and then her features assumed a studied neutrality. I was not sure what to make of that.

As for Anita, she was a more or less random find. I was waiting at Luijiazui subway stop to meet Feena last Friday (having decided to eschew Ellen, the sure thing, for the chance of Feena), when I saw a woman somewhat struggling to carry a bag down the steps descending to the station concourse. No one offered her help, naturally, for this is not a culture that is big on random acts of kindness. So I strode forward to help her (before I had even seen her face, so it was not a total pick-up). But she was rather good looking, and so at the bottom of the stairs we traded cards, leading to meeting for lunch on Wednesday. More of that later.

So this week I want to fit in various women; Angel and Suna, for lunch on Tuesday and then Wednesday afternoon and evening with Deedee. I also ought to see Jingjing, who I have pissed off, but having taken her home twice now, I am losing interest.

Angel and Suna are a couple of students who have become friends with each other and me since meeting in a class I taught. In that class, I noticed Angel, since she was quite cute (a Shanghai girl, with Shanghai style, sharply dressed, confident, a little bit sassy) but not Suna. However, I’d given the whole class my email this time, and it was Suna who popped up to talk first.

That first time she chatted to me online, I saw she had a blog, so I checked it out just to see who she was, since at that point all I had to go on was her email name. The main picture on her blog wowed me – a snap of a girl kissing another girl. It was clearly a ‘real’ picture, not just one downloaded from a porny website. Since one of the girls in the picture looked a little familiar, I wondered – hoped – that it was her. A girl who has a picture of a girl kissing another girl on her blog is a girl I want to get to know.

And so I did. But I did not tell her I even knew she had a blog, and, suppressing the urge to ask, ‘So, you’re into other girls, then?’ I just laid some getting-to-know-you groundwork shit. Then, a few minutes after we’d begun chatting, another student, from the same class, popped up; this was Angel, though I did not know it at the time, and clearly Suna had suggested she join in the conversation.

Though I didn’t know who this girl was, naturally I hoped it was the other girl in the pic – yet since these two were only classroom buddies that was unlikely. So all three of us talked until 11pm, at which time the electricity in their dorms (on different campuses) went off – Chinese university students being treated more like livestock than human beings.

A day or two later, I got a chatty SMS message from Angel; it was clear that Suna had given her my number (the only place Angel could have got it). Prior to this, I’d arranged to see Suna for coffee: now, she messaged me to ask if Angel could join us. This message gave me a frisson of excitement, as I fantasized that Suna was engineering this with an eye on seducing Angel.

I went to that date determined to flirt but also to keep my conversation away from prurient questions about that picture, her sexuality. But the topic came up anyway, for, before Angel arrived, Suna and I were talking about student life, and I’d mentioned something about a friend at Shanghai Maritime University. She seized on that name, and told me it was renowned for having many lesbian students. Did I know if this was true, she asked, and did I know any such people? More of this, too, later.

Finally I am keen to take Arina out to dinner once more. I have not had much luck in wooing her; there is certainly attraction there, and potential too. But she has made it clear that she is looking for something serious. So the only way I can get her is by making a proper play for her, and showing some commitment. And I am not sure I am ready for that; plus, of course, I already have Sara, my full time girlfriend, of whom I am very fond. Sara is leaving China for study in Canada later in the year, and I would like to keep our relationship tranquil until then. Getting with Arina would make my life a bit too complex – just an endless round of changing sheets and hiding trinkets.

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Anonymous said...

That's a helluva lot of babes to keep track of at one time.

Anonymous said...

China correspondent Tim Johnson has a new blog of his insights on Chinese news, politics and culture, as well as the oddities of adjusting to life in the Middle Kingdom. Check it out:

Anonymous said...

Yo, Pajama man! Are you fucking brit? your blog sucks donkey ass anyways. My mother was born Shanghai, however she is not like the style of women you were talking about in your blog... I have no fucking clue what the fuck you were talking in your blog... i am not 100% Chinese I don't even have chinese citizenship, but I can't stand the way you are thinking of chinese people. You mother fucking brit should getta shut the fuck up or I am gonna kick your god damn mother fucking british money ass!!

Anonymous said...

Hi sucker, they are looking for you ... you'd better quit your job now.

Anonymous said...

you motherfucker have be cursed to fuck your own birth mother in the hell !!! get out of china, you son of bitch!!!

Anonymous said...

always fun to see the loosers whine