[This is the saga of Dr. Jing, a guy who works in the convenience store below my apartment. A real motherfuckin’ G. Some nights we drink some Suntory Beer mixed with Chinese rice wine and discuss where to eat lamb, real estate in Shandong, Chinese drinking culture that will allegedly take over three weeks of non-stop discussion to explain, and the ills of modern life. Dr. Jing is not on LinkedIn so don't even ask.]
Part two of the Dr. Jing story starts like they all do, in the convenience store by my house drinking local beer and listening to classical music on laptop speakers. It’s mostly high frequencies anyway right? Dr. Jing knows as much about classical as I do about hip hop, possibly more. I wonder how he would feel about James Blake.
So this 24 year-old kid from Yangzhou comes in looking sad and starts crushing beers and MSG-laced snacks, says he just broke up with his girl a few hours ago on the stairs out front. Says before he met her he saved 100,000rmb from working construction and now it’s all gone.
Dr. Jing asks where this ex-girlfriend works, and kid says the hospital. Dr. Jing says don’t ever date girls who work in hospitals or schools, because these are “comparison centers” – places where women stand around comparing what they have, i.e. jewelry, cars, clothing, etc. to other women.
The doctor and I agreed that breaking up with hospital girl was a 小事情 (small matter), but spending 100,000RMB in six months??!! This was a serious problem. “There’s lots more fish in the sea,” we insisted, but leave it to [outdated] traditional Chinese values to crush the spirits of the young and unmarried, even in the face of impending modernism.
Yangzhou kid is like “What am i gonna do? I’m gonna go back to Yangzhou and my parents and neighbors are gonna be all ‘why haven’t you married yet!?’” and I says “relax, you’re 24,” and that he should meet lots of girls until he finds out what kind of girl he really likes, or just focus on himself, hobbies, and work, until eventually he just runs into the right girl or she finds him. Maybe try some white girls or black girls until wifey rolls around. Dr. Jing agreed and opened another Suntory. The good doctor was quite the ladies man back in the day. He said back in the Mao days, there was a slogan that Google Translate rendered “Any dating that does not lead to marriage is bullying.” Like many, Dr. Jing has mixed feelings about Mao.
To ease the broken-hearted, Dr. Jing started to sing. He sounded like an opera singer, belting “我的太阳！！！” (“my sunshine!!”). I could hear him from the tiny bathroom. That’s the first time I ever used the restroom in a Chinese convenience store.
The Suntory kept flowing, steamed buns, mushroom skewers, and chips came out with minimal presentation and maximum MSG, and the kid from Yangzhou felt a little better after hanging out with the good doctor and yrs truly. Unfortunately we learned that two weeks later he was back with the girl from the hospital, but perhaps there’s still hope.
Get ready for part three, where the good doctor and I enjoy Shanghai’s finest lamb up in Baoshan district, blinded by sunshine and Baijiu.