When Jonathan and I were living in Shenzhen, China there were many nights it was just the two of us. Our little studio apartment, while clean and livable, didn’t feel like home. Our “friends” there were loving and kind but spoke limited English. And, after blowing through the entire first season of 24 on DVD, we didn’t have much to watch. One night we took the bus to a bar near the harbor called, “Ex-ta-sea” where we planned to get a drink and play pool. (Do I even need to add commentary to the bar’s name? I think not.)
The bar was full of Chinese women, and about six or seven expat men who were all flirting with the young girls. Jonathan and I sauntered over to the bar where I waited to place an order. In the meantime, Jonathan went searching for the restroom. It took very little time for me to get myself in trouble.
A gentleman at the bar eyed me as soon as I sat down. He was in his fifties, graying and unattractive, wearing MC Hammer style pants in American flag pattern. He started conversation immediately. “Haven’t seen you here before… you new around here?” I answered in a friendly manner, telling him that Jonathan and I were in the country for several months. He explained he’d been living in the city for years. He loved China. The country, he explained, offered him the life of a king–a life he wouldn’t be able to afford in the states. Then, quickly, he said, “But, if there’s one thing I hate about this country it’s their women. They are idiots. Every single one of them.” I responded cooly, “Really? I haven’t found that to be the case at all. In fact, the women here are intelligent and kind.” At that point, I turned away, giving him the “I don’t want to talk to you anymore” vibe.
He faced the bartender, a young woman in her twenties. I can’t remember his exact wording, but he started yelling at her for not bringing him the right drink. I stared, my eyes wide, at the interaction. He continued to try and make conversation with me, his eyes never leaving the area just below my collar bone.
I don’t really know why I said the next words that came out of my mouth. They were probably not the smartest thing to say or the classiest, but they flew out unplanned.
“I don’t want to talk to you, and if you don’t leave me alone my husband is going to beat you up.”
Leave me alone would have probably been sufficient. Or even, “You’re a horribly rude person that also happens to be highly unattractive” would have also worked. But, my threat seemed to really do the trick. He shut up. Said nothing. Stopped staring. Looked at his drink. I won. Victory tasted so sweet until I realized my innocent husband could walk back to a brawl. Oops.
What did I do? I ran for Jonathan as soon as he got out of the restroom. And then I told him, “I think we should leave. Quickly.”
And so we did.