After being ripped off in that teahouse scam, being constantly badgered with "HEY LADY, WANT WATCH?", and having every older couple that comes up to me start telling me how hungry they are and they just need 10 kuai to eat dinner, I was feeling a bit upset and suspicious of everyone new that tried to start a conversation with me. Luckily last night I had a rather positive experience. I hope it stays that way.
I took Bikey (which I am only calling that until I come up with a better name) over to Carrefour to get that gel seat. After that I decided to go riding around. I made a huge square around the school and then just started cycling down BiYun road (the main street that I live off of and Carrefour is on). I figured I would head down that street for about a half hour then turn back so I could meet Laibond at the appointed time. I had only started down that road for a while when I heard music and saw a bunch of couples doing ballroom dancing outside on this square in front of some shops. Having taken dance for nine years and a ballroom dance class my last semester in college, I was curious.
I pulled up and sat back on my bike and watched for a bit, trying to stay on the outskirts and blend in. One of the dancing couples noticed me and with big smiles they waved me over. No one there could speak a word of English so all of the conversation below was in Chinese. They asked if I could dance, I said a little, but that it wasn't the same. When a new song started, the guy beckoned me onto the dance floor and led me for some odd variant of swing dancing. I also danced with him for a rumba and a waltz. I am thankful for my class in ballroom dance teaching me the cues when following or else I would have made a fool of myself. In between dances he asked where I was from, what I was doing in China, how old I was...etc. After dancing and feeling very much the center of attention (a crowd had started to gather), I wheeled my bike over to a bench and started to write in my journal and watch the others dance.
The man I had danced with came over and asked to see my journal. He looked at the page I was writing and said he could understand any of it. I showed him the last page in it, where I had been writing down useful words and phrases in Chinese. When he saw that, he took the journal and wrote "I am a Chinese person" and his name. I took the journal and wrote "I am American" and my Chinese name. Then he wrote that America was great, I wrote that China was great. He wrote that America was very advanced, I wrote that China was beautiful. If me dancing drew a crowd, then my writing and reading Chinese made me VERY popular. There was a circle of people standing around me sitting on the bench. Everybody wanted to write something down to see if I could understand it. Finally, the guy said he wanted me to come back tomorrow (today) at 7:30 to talk to his son, who is 27 and can speak English. Since I didn't have any plans, I agreed to come back.
The part of me that has been taken advantage of in China one too many times is wondering if maybe he wants me to marry his son or something, but hopefully they just find me interesting and want to chat. I hope things work out with this group of people because I would love to have a spot that close where I can just bike out to on random nights when I feel like dancing or practicing Chinese with Shanghai people. One guy who talked to me briefly gave me the impression that sometimes they do taichi there too, but maybe I misunderstood.
Oh dear. Something just occurred to me. Using military time is pretty standard here. I REALLY hope that they meant they wanted me to come back at 7:30 at night and NOT 7:30 in the morning. I will feel like a jackass if I find out they were waiting for me this morning. Oh dear.
After all that dancing business, I met up with Laibond for dinner. We ended up going to Blue Frog. We chatted about Drew and Drew people, what we were doing, etc. We also had a few tangents in the conversation that reminded me of talking to my father, where one of us would say some non sequitur and the other would take it and run with it. One involved a Scandinavian pirate named One-Eyed Pete whose ship was a unicorn that sailed the 8th sea. Hanging out with him made me laugh a lot. We stopped at Carrefour after dinner since he was looking for something and I need more dinner-y items. After that we parted ways and I rode my bike back home for bed.
I need to firm up my lesson plan for next week before work gets out. So far I think it will be skits for class one, testing in class two, fill in the blank comics in class three and for the whole class I can't decide if I want to do the "linking words and phrases" lesson or stick with Wall-E. Classes C and D still haven't seen the end so I could do some fun exercises relating to Wall-E with I have Class A and B, and take my period with class C and D to finish. I dunno. Bah.
Anyway, that last paragraph was convoluted and confusing which is my sign to wrap this up.