Tuesday, August 17, 2004


I should be curled up in bed asleep, as I have to be on a plane in hours, however the events of the past few hours are too bizarre and I'm terrified I'll forget them. Tonight, Mr. Yen picked us up and took us to some hotel, where we were to have dinner and a cultural show. We were ushered into a huge atrium auditorium, where only 2 other people sat, both Americans. A stage, with a large digital screen above it, was at the center, and hundereds of empty tables and chairs surrounded it. We were then presented with a fixed menu, and discovered our meal would consist of prawn salad, minestrone, steak and a baked potato, banana pancakes, fruit, and coffee. We were also allowed one cocktail each. Dad and Alex chose beer, as mom opted for her traditional Chardonnay, and I ordered Evian, which was apparently extra, but I'm taking no chances with this water. We also ordered a bottle of our now standard wine, Great Wall, and all agreed that this would be incredibly wierd if there were only 6 people in the audience. Dad, carrying only cash as he's now terrified of pickpockets, asked if anyone else brought money. No, why would we. Dinner arrived, but no other guests. At this point, mom and I got the giggles. Dad pointed out that he felt perfectly fine, and wouldn't care if he were the only one in the audience. The trick was to clap fast, as it would seem there were hundereds of us. Finally, just as the show was about to start, maybe 10 more people joined us in this huge theater, although they didn't eat. Wise of them, but live and learn. Mom expressed concern that the stairs leading up to the stage inplied audience participation, but I pointed out this was traditional, minority Chinese dance. How could they integrate us?
The show began, with a woman dressed in sparkly Tibetian attire, and in broken English, welcomed us. Above her, on the digital screen, scrolled her lines, just in case we couldn't understand her. This continued throughout the performance, with every 10th word misspelled. The cast consisted of 10 tiny Asian gals and 4 Asian queens, who took their roles far more seriously than their female counterparts. Dressed initially in a combination of Martian and peasant, I was instantly enthralled. The dances, which could have been choreographed by Paula Abdul's less talented assistant, was hilarious, as were the ever changing, over the top costumes. It looked like a Saturday Night Live sketch, although we weren't supposed to laugh. I could do nothing but wish my friends were there to witness this event, as words don't exist to adequetly describe it.
In every country, under any circumstance, if someone is going to get pulled onstage, it's going to be Alex Spotswood. Starting at age 10, getting his head chopped off by a magician on a Carribean cruise, Alex always seems to find himself hand in hand with some scantilly clad hussy getting dragged into the spotlight. He's a big, tall pretty boy who's always a good sport. God bless him, tonight was no different. Twice, I repeat, twice, the boy dived in and performed, beautifully, I might add. In hysterics, I snapped away at my disposable as he made faces at us from the stage. With about 15 people in the entire audience, he felt perfectly comfortable hamming it up. As he descended the stage, I shouted, "Fabulous! Encore!" at the top of my lungs.
The show lasted far too long and had about as much to do with traditional Chinese minority culture as the Starbucks on every corner. As it was finally time to go, and meet Mr. Yen in the lobby, the bill arrived. Dad looked it over, and then looked up in horror.
"I don't have enough money."
My mother, finding this the most hilarious thing ever to occur, couldn't speak she was laughing so hard. It was agreed that Alex go run and get 10 yuen from Mr. Yen.
"Mr. Yen, I apologize, really. God, I'm so sorry. We're 10 yuen short."
He returns with the 10 yuen ($1.30 US) only to find we're 20 yuen short. Again, he runs into the lobby to find Mr. Yen. With the bill finally paid with borrowed money, we agree to get the hell out of there. Laughing so hard we can barely stand, we agree that begging this poor, old Chinese guy for 3 bucks is far better than washing dishes in the back, even if there were only six of them.
I cannot belive that a) we agreed to go to such a bizarre showcase of Chinese bad taste, and b) that my father, who drives a car that costs more than a condo in Guilin, was 3 bucks short on our bill.
Oh. My. God.


AndyJolley said...

Okay, ok. I finally sat down and read your BLOG.....fabulous! So far, I have only read the China entries.......way better than postcards. You seem to have a flair/knack for writing, your writings remind me of a cross between David Ssedaris stories and "Traveling Matt" the traveling Fraggle's letters. I have even been inspired to have a blog of my own, mostly because I had to register to be able to post this comment. I'm sorry you had a food poisoning and shit, thats sucks!! Anyway I don't know what time you get back on the 23rd, but I miss you!!! Tell the family I say Hi! and be sure to tell Joanne that I have Tivo'd The Amazing Race and will cut it to videotape or DVD for her, whichever she prefers.....VHS might be easier though. Anyway have fun being an international Fag Hag!

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