Keen though I am to see Ellen again, my relationship with her is sexual only, and she remains a minor part of my life. The same is true of Sweetie. But this is not a permanent pattern among my lovers. Mona, for example, has become a friend after being a lover.
I hardly need say that she was a student. I met her about a year back and right from the first class I could tell she was a little taken with me. Staying behind after class to talk to me the first session, wearing nicer clothes in the second and later sessions. But really, most of all, it is in the eyes; the way she looked at me is something I have seen many times in class. Just that moment of looking eyes, the bold, clear gaze, the suggestion.
And so I was sure Mona would hit me up for an online chat, and so she did, a few hours after that first class. It was a semi-suggestive conversation and though mostly couched in the terms of just a friendly chat, it was clearly an exploration, charting the territory, the lie of the land.
She told me she was rearranging stuff in her dorm to make way for a new room-mate, and told me she was thinking of moving to an external flat, since, she said, she liked her own company better – though a lot of universities will not let their undergraduates move into private accommodation, threatening them with expulsion if they try to do so.
This is just one of the many ways in which
But of course en-mass protest will never happen. The authorities would simply come for the brave souls who tried to organize it, at which point the other students would jump ship. This society is too selfish for solidarity. And too apathetic; the students just accept their lot without ever asking if it is right, without ever seeking to change it. I guess so many years of being beaten down, of being crushed under the contempt and despite of the government, have long since erased even the hint of an echo of a thought of self-determination, independence, rebellion.
But maybe I oversimplify. There are ways of rebellion; primarily, religion and sex.
Sex is how those like Lucy rebel. Indeed, as I was chatting with Mona that night, Lucy popped up also, to tell me how that day she had been forced to sit through some wretched hagiography on Deng Xiaoping. This was around the time of his centenary, and the wretched media here was in a dutiful froth about the matter. China Daily, for example, expressed its wonder at his depth of insight and intelligence, his shrewd and decisive proclamations, such as ‘Peace and development are good for the world.’ Wow. Top-grade thinking there, Little Bottle. Lucy was then obliged to write an essay on this worthless bilge. In a society where such dead, sterile rubbish fills public discourse (as, for example, Jiang Zemin’s astonishing revelation that ‘Government must represent the interests of the people’), some outlet must be sought. That’s what brought Lucy to my bed, for fucking me, a foreigner, was one way she could safely defy these numbing conventions. For Mona, too, sex was a way of personal rebellion.
Religion is the other way, and I meet a growing number of this kind of rebel. In general, such people are, like 95% of Christians, utterly unprepossessing, utterly vapid, limp, bland. In the same class I met Mona I had one of these clowns, Helen, who believed in every word of the bible, believed that, yes, god really did make the world in seven days and so on. I tried to point out some of the more obvious asininities of Genesis to her, the usual tropes such as ‘If there was no death in
Yet while I scorn such attitudes, and have a deal of contempt for them (for, it seems to me, such beliefs are in such clear contradictions to the experience of every day life that to hold them is a willful abuse of intelligence) I also understand them and to some extent even respect them. For they are an antidote to the folly and sterility of all these decades of the most dispiriting and poisonous pap that the party machine turns out. Christianity’s claims are every bit as ludicrous as communism’s, but at least they are poetic, at least they come from life, from culture, not from death as all the party’s proclamations do. And thus folly as it is, being christian is at least the first step on the road to individuality, to selfhood. Baby steps, yes, and if this literal attitude to the bible is not left behind, no growth beyond babyhood is possible. But they are steps at least, a start -- though Lucy’s ways of rebellion, as Mona’s, are much purer, more wholesome, more truthful.
Of course in this our first conversation she kept that side of her nature a little camouflaged, as did I. Nonetheless, I was quite sure that, had I felt more in the mood to push it a little, she would have been glad for me to go over and help her ‘rearrange’ the heavier objects in her dorm – that being the excuse I would have offered and the excuse she would have accepted to get me over there. And then, no doubt, we would have become lovers.
But I did not push that option. I did not want to seem too keen and, besides, was just in the mood to sit at home and loaf. And in any case, I was sure there would be plenty more chances to see her – to add nothing of the fact that anticipation just makes realization more sweet.