Belly shirts: when it is hot a certain species of middle-aged Chinese guys roll their shirts up from the bottom under their arms, exposing their mid-sections to the cooling breezes. This is a good look, especially when flip-flops are involved and the guy has a paunch.
Diapers: Nah, slit the back of the shorts and Junior lets fly whenever and wherever the inspiration strikes.
Gatoraid: has nothing on Pocari Sweat. This is a key sport drink from Japan. The big beverage in a can is tea – a sweet tea in a red can with yellow characters that tastes an awful lot like the sweet tea at the Bojangles on Airport Boulevard in Morrisville near the Hooters.
Napkins: are in short supply and when found usually come wrapped in paper envelopes, or are furnished in the form of Kleenex in a table-top dispenser. This paucity of face wipes leads to sticking the food bowl right under the chin and shovel-slurping as required.
Lo-Flo Toilets: There isn’t a Beijing toilet that I cannot clog. These things are more temperamental than a marine head on an old sailboat. I look at one funny and it overflows.
Clothing lust: I must depart with a Chinese Olympic Baseball team jersey. Red, big yellow dragon, and China in flowing script. Just the thing for the Fenway bleachers.
Speaking of which …. How awesome is MLB.com and archives of last week’s insane ball game between the Red Sox and the Texas Rangers with ten runs in the first inning alone? Watching Red Sox in China is a serious Masshole’s guilty pleasure. I saw a guy in a Celtics jersey outside of a roast duck joint and heard someone say “Jeezum crow, it’s hot” which was last heard by Cousin Pete at a Maine wedding a few years ago in a old, unairconditioned church. I heard it on the Olympic Green from a fat lady and almost introduced myself.
Engrish: most sad to see the Temple of Mangled English, the Dongda Hospital of Diseases of the Anus and Intestine get renamed to the Donga Proctological and Intestinal Disease Hospital because it got made fun of in the New York Times. Speaking of Engrish, the Chinese get every much as loud a laugh out of translating Chinese character tattoos on trendy Los Angeles celebrities.
Food engrish: Shooting fish in the proverbial barrel. “Meat salad” (I passed), “Mud Crab” (so delicious sounding), “Fungus” (mushrooms).. All I care is the guy in the VIP lounge can turn out a nice egg white omelet but the ladies will not let me get my own coffee. We have Italian Meat Sauce flavored Lay’s Potato Chips in the War Room (Le Chambre de la Guerre).
Hello Dudes: there are six people in the hallway who say hello to me every time I walk to and fro. This happens ten times a day, they know who I am. And they know it bugs me. I give them a new greeting every time I pass. Gruezi, Sup, Sappenen, Hola, Howdy, howareya ….
Neck ribbons: everybody has a pass around their neck. Now the taxi loaders at the hotel have them too. I think they felt left out.
Dutchmen: The Dutch Orangemen of Holland, Netherlands get team spirit award. I think a sizable percentage went to the Silk Market and had orange suits made for $100. There was an orange Dumb and Dumber tuxedo at the rowing finals. Brazilians, Russians are also very vocal. Americans – not so much – not a good time to be a loud American but I have no problem when the occasion calls for it. In fact, I know for a fact I am the loudest American because a lady asked me to please be quiet when I retold a secondhand story of someone seeing a gymnast’s name on the display “Fukin, A.” and she thought I was crudely agreeing with someone using the South Boston declarative form of the affirmative.
The Olympic Lane: All the spy novels set in Cold War Moscow talk about the special lane reserved for the limousines of the Party Elite (in order to underscore the contradiction of privilege in a classless society I suppose). Well, that’s back in Beijing. Olympic Rings have been painted in the fast lane for vehicles with special passes. Half the fun is convincing the average cabby that one’s yellow IOC card is indeed a license to drive like a lunatic in the Ring Lane. Or for that matter, one’s step-sister. Cabbies love it when I throw my pass up onto their dash and they use it to bullshit the traffic cops that, yes, Henry Kissinger is in the cab and needs to meet the Premier.
Seriously: I could live and work here. This city gets me psyched.