Where do these smells come from? Every day, I'm bombarded with an ancient blend of aromas that shock my system and make my eyes water. I can't figure it out. The Chinese have a very different sense of what tastes and smells good or bad. Desserts are uber-sweet and covered in pastel crap. Beef is always hot pink and oddly flavored. Yesterday, I detected hints of lime popscicle flavor in my stir-fry.
We took a cab over to Lotus Lane last night. Lotus Lane, recommended by the concierge, is kinda like Epcot Center's China. There's a big lake in the middle, with all kinds of paddle boats you can rent, and then a promenade around the lake packed with super trendy bars and restaurants, where waiters wear Dolce and Gabbana sarongs with sequined tops and faux-hawks. We seemed to find the only legitimate Chinese restaurant, where dad ordered his standard bottle of red and bottle of white. We each picked 2 things off the menu and the table was soon packed with a wide array of unrecognizable food. I wasn't in a drinking mood, still exhausted and nauseous from my day of hell. That however, didn't stop anyone else. There we sat, along Lotus Lane, overlooking a lovely little lake and sparkely lights, and mom, dad, and Alex were getting trashed. Through the eyes of sobriety, I observed my family and came to the following conclusion: The reason I'm nuts is because these people are nuts. My father insisted upon finishing both bottles as a matter of national pride. My brother and mother seemed to have cause-less giggles, particlarly my mother who gets louder and louder with each sip of Chardonnay. Alex, when drunk, apparently spills food all over himself. I practically had to carry the 3 of them to the cabs waiting at the gates of Lotus Lane. I crawled in the front, and packed the AA meeting in the back, where my then father lost it. He literally couldn't breathe, he was laughing so hard. At what, you ask? He saw a Kentucky Fried Chicken tram carrying around Japanese tourits and I said, "Look. It's the KFC zoo-tram." I think he peed his pants. And when my dad laughs that hard, he makes no noise. He just turns red, shakes, and slaps himself, which of course, makes everyone else start laughing. At one point, he and Alex started to wrestle. My mother, ever the voice of intellectual observation, looks out the window to the packed streets of Beijing and says, "If they have that birth control law, why do they keep multiplying like rabbits?"
For all that food, booze, and fun, dinner cost $40 US. They're practically giving it away. (Oh wait. Fight in the Business Center. I must eavesdrop.....Oh dear. A very well-dressed American woman's credit card was denied and she's livid. Fabulous. Speaking of which, there's a Japanese rock star staying on our floor, and he looks like a sketch from Saturday Night Live.)
Today, Annie is picking us up and we're exploring the Forbidden City. Now, as I generally love to see places that have been in movies, I'm pretty excited, save the fact that it will take all day and I'll probably be ready to shop by 11am. Also, watching my mother try to converse with someone that speaks relatively good English is upsetting. It's like she thinks their deaf AND retarded. Lots of thumbs-ups and similar. It's hard to watch.
I'm off to breakfast. Maybe, I'll sit next to the Japanese rock star and he'll hire me to style his upcoming tour. Although, he's gonna need to lose that Catwoman look.