Kids, Don’t Try This At Home.

#1 and #2  are true.

#1 Chinese Adventure Story

Two years ago, Becky and I were sent to China to observe a business.  On our way home, we had a 36 hour layover in Beijing, and she was intent on spending the entire time in the airport.  Um.  No.  After a great deal of convincing, she allowed us to make a reservation at an inexpensive next step up from a hostel Chinese version of the Motel 6.  Unbeknownst to us, our, *ahem*…host, made a reservation some 30 miles from the airport and more than five miles from the end of the airport busline.  We attempted to find a cab at the airport, but were repeatedly told it would be nearly 40 USD.  At the time we didn’t know why.  We finally decided the to ride to the end of the busline and walk from there.

photo: tnooz.com

I should say, we were supposed to have checked in by 6:30.  We were still on the tarmac in our provincial city at 6:30.  So, it was all a crap shoot at that point.  Not only that, but our last several days prior had been characterized by conflict, miscommunication, misunderstanding, and no little manipulation.  Eternity will tell the tale and I am less and less afraid to find out the rest of the story.  The moment we took off in the van for the airport, the disharmony was gone and Becky and I agreed on everything as if with one mind.

So when we got to the end of the line, it was around 11:30.  There were young ladies climbing into the backs of cabs with gentlemen.  And the cabs didn’t drive away.  I don’t know if Becky saw.  We didn’t discuss it.  We got out of there.  Every couple hundred yards, we searched for a person who looked safe and asked them if they spoke English and asked them to read our directions.  Everyone said they spoke English(even if they didn’t).  Everyone pointed vaguely to the other side of the 10 lane road and further down.

We probably made a mile, dragging luggage, before a beautifully dressed woman stopped us and looked at our directions.  She got on the phone and spoke to someone (Why do Chinese people always sound angry when they ask for information?  Oh yeah, it’s a ‘tonal’ language.)  She got off the phone and told us our directions were wrong.  She asked us who gave us these directions and if they were someone we knew.  Then she put us in a cab and gruffly directed the driver, who waved her off like she was his own mother.

After back tracking several miles, and heading further “south?” we were deposited on the steps of a rudimentary facility that makes Motel 6 look like Marriot.  The desk manager refused to honor our reservation, but instead walked us down a series of mazelike hallways from which we emerged into the lobby of something much more like a 3 star hotel where we were accommodated at the same nightly rate.

The next day we took in the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in one day.  I got ‘China fatigue’ and Becky barely got me on the airplane without yelling at a person like those awful “redheads” on Amazing Race a couple years ago.

A couple of lessons learned.  1) Get a travel agent.  2) In China, the senior citizen rate is for older Chinese people.  Older Americans pay full price. (This will give you China fatigue) 3) Beggars are everywhere and they target older Americans.  Grab your friend by the hand and pull your friend out of the way while firmly and loudly saying, “No.” to the beggar.  The money you may give them will be taken from them by their ’employer’ (beggar pimp)and they get to keep none of it.  (This, too, will give you China fatigue.)  4)Most Chinese people are lovely; some are ‘fatiguing”. Just like Americans.

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Number 2

Photo: The Journal

One summer, when I was thinner, younger, prettier and had nothing to do.  My friend and I went to the Tumbleweed.  Yes, the cowboy bar where Garth was a bouncer and pulled Sandy’s fist out of the women’s room drywall and the rest is history.  Thursdays at 11, that’s where you’d find us.  I spent most of the summer keeping her from getting taken advantage of.  Because she was a dumbass naive. I had been bailing her out of scrapes for a couple of years.  But this one night…

He had been playing pool in the corner…

Oops, you should know Stacy and I had 3 rules.  You could dance with anyone who met the following criteria: 1) Not old enough to drive a car when you were born. 2) Boots didn’t reach the knees and didn’t contain said gentleman’s pants legs.  3) HIS breasts must be smaller than mine.(We started to say hers, but we wouldn’t have been able to dance at all).  Excessively stringent? I think not.

He was playing pool in the corner with the reason for rule number 2.  We made eye contact.  Every time I walked around the end of the dance floor.  All night.  When the last dance came, I decided it was gonna have to be me and I went over.

Yeah.  #2 thought I had been flirting with him all night.  And, as with all #2, thought he could dance.  After 14 minutes of “Darlene” or “Good-bye, Marie”, the lights came up and I walked away.  Yes.  Just like that.

Walked straight over to the table and arrived in mid-flirt.  He was nice and nice looking and a gentleman and he was leaving town the next day for Plainview, TX.  He was serving an “internship” slaughtering cattle.  He wrote me as soon as he arrived and as often as I wrote him back, all summer.

He charged his buddies with looking after me while he was gone.

One was big and good looking and shouldn’t have been trusted.  The other told me he had MS and only a couple of years to live. Even I was smarter than that.  Some buddies.

So this one night, for reasons that remain unclear, I needed a ride home. I wouldn’t have arrived with them, and I didn’t let people drive my pick-up. BGL was driving and MS was loud and drunk and pulled the 9mm out from under the seat.  It was loaded.  I didn’t soil myself, but only because I was busy promising God if I lived I was going to become a nun….

“Give me the gun, MS.”

“No.”

They struggled.  Across me.  MS was waving the gun all over the place.  BGL had to choose between a GSW or Automobile collision as someone’s manner of death.  Not knowing who.  Maybe everybody.

So BGL took the first left off Lakeview(probably Coyote Run) and let MS get out and said,”Give me the gun.”

“No.”

I was standing by the truck.  I knew that if he hit the truck he could hit the gas tank.  There are homes on either side of the road.

Ultimately, MS emptied the clip(Into the air?  The ditch?  I don’t know. I heard the shots, but I was busy hiding) and handed over the gun and we climbed back in the truck and we dropped MS at his hovel trailer house and BGL drove me home.

About midsummer, that sweet letter writing boy came home to visit and took me to meet his momma, his own big good-looking self.  Lovely family, Grandma, dad, sister (who was in major trouble because she had moved in with her boyfriend), all gathered because he was in town.  Good eating.  Beef that had been raised in the backyard.  But it was all for naught.

We had just gotten there when someone said something funny.  And he laughed.

Like a Muppet.

He laughed like a freaking Muppet.

I don’t know how I gagged down that Sunday dinner

Yes, I do.

I am a carnivore. It was good and no sense it going to waste, just because there was no way I could live the rest of my life with that laugh.

This post is being linked with Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.