Proverbial Cats & Bags

Well, I question the wisdom of letting those at my school know that there’s a bit of a girl in my life – alright, I know “bit of a girl” sounds a bit retarded … but it works on the “oh, she’s so tiny…” and the “ah… so you’re not really ‘together’ then…” levels and I don’t know how else to put it having lost most of my higher brain functions with the full day of school I endured today.

I wonder if I should have said anything about Mandy to anyone at school for the simple reason that news and speculation spreads about as quick as warm Nutella here. This isn’t to say that girls are gossipy about other girls (that’s just a stereotype, right?) or anything… but when a foreigner starts spending more than an average amount of time with a Chinese girl – I dunno… suddenly everyone is interested.

This week has been a bit dull for actual blog-type things to write about, but I guess I’ll just do a quick re-cap and then go find some food. Monday and Tuesday just sorta passed, Wednesday I met Mandy in Dalian for some dinner and a nice walk in Labour Park. Thursday she came out to Jinzhou and I cooked her, Karen and myself a Thai curry. After dinner we went to a square not far from my apartment and watched people do some dancing. The cutest thing was this 4-year-old at the front of about 25-35 middle-aged people and she was doing all the dance moves bang on.

Karen, even without having really been told that anything was going on with Mandy and I, made what seemed like an early exit. The next day I left Mandy to her own devices and went to teach a new business class for an hour. When I got home we headed down to the school to pick up my pay (don’t get me wrong, I love payday, but it’s unnerving walking around with 4,000-6,000 RMB in my pocket). I tried to convince Mandy to come up and get a bit of a tour, but she seemed a bit hesitant to meet the staff.

The whole pseudo-relationship we’ve got going is a bit strange in this regard. A) we attract a lot of attention when in public. This (B) causes Mandy to get really uncomfortable if I hold her hand or anything like that. I understand it, don’t agree with it but am sorta trying to accept it as best I can. I know it’s not her fault directly, but I have never in my entire life been made to feel so aware of the colour of my skin as I am when I’m with her.

It’s strange, because there is a social stigma attached to Western guys with Chinese girls. If it was any Western country no one would notice, or they’d at least try really hard to be discreet about it. Here though, the overtness of the public is startling and a bit stifling. The problems, as always, are in the assumptions, and the assumption is rarely that the two just generally like spending time with each other, have shared interests and dig one another.

I’m guilty of this myself, as whenever I see an older lao wai with a young (looking at least) Chinese woman… my initial thoughts are almost never those expressed in the paragraph above. I noticed it a while back, and it is rather ignorant of me to think like this. It cannot really be argued to harshly that the ‘sugah-Westerner’ isn’t a reality, but as this experience with Mandy is really showing me… who the hell am I to judge anyone?

One other thing that makes Mandy one of the coolest girls I’ve ever been involved with: she gave no hesitation to informing me I should knock off a few pounds. Haha. I mean, alright, this isn’t an open invitation or anything, but when was the last time you were with someone that was that open with you? Can you imagine doing the “Am I too fat?” question with your sweety and them giving you the bare-honest truth? Admittedly, I’ve gotten a bit of a thick skin when it comes to the “fat” word in China. I use it daily to describe myself, with a satisfied pat of my belly. Sometimes it gets a humouristic spin and gets called “strong” here… which is cute. But mostly, people just don’t seem to tip-toe around the obvious as much as we do in the West.

Having said that, I need to write another entry about the ‘face’ thing and completely contradict myself.

Mandy’s got the big, mighty CET (College English Test) this weekend, and so will be studying all week — leaving me to hang with Matthew and DVDs, two not-so-bad sources of entertainment. One for the copious amounts of wit and humour… and the other because he’s got a BBQ. The other thing I may have unwisely gotten myself into is taggin’ along with Serena to an end-of-Uni/friend’s birthday celebration in Dalian on Thursday. She’s said that there’ve been claims that it’s just going to be a solid night of drinking. At first I was all, “hell yeah… sounds fun!” but then Matthew put it in perspective. Uni girls, end of school, last time seeing each other, loads of alcohol… it’s going to be a LOT of tears. However, I’ve never seen a bunch of Chinese girls pissed out of their heads… and Serena’s not drinking, so she’ll protect me from any potential sobbers I’m sure.

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