Monday, September 29, 2008

Dangers of the KTV

Ruby took me to her friend's birthday party in one of the karaoke places in the city. After introductions I sat down to play Liar's Dice with some of the men. At one point someone asks me if I have many fives and, using the new slang I have picked up, I reply, "I have a lot of fucking fives." (lit: I have big dick fives). Everyone laughs it up and for a while I'm left to play in peace and drink beers, rather than being forced to sing Elvis Presley and Righteous Brothers songs for everyone.

Eventually the party starts to wind down and Ruby is ready to go, but two of her friends want to take me out for further festivities. Ruby leaves, but seems worried. I can't tell if it's because she thinks her friends will get me into trouble, or because I've had so many beers already I can hardly walk.

After Ruby leaves I go to a different lounge of the KTV with my two new friends, Johnny and Shoe. I don't know Johnny's Chinese name, he introduced himself to me as Johnny. Johnny knows nine or ten words in English, which he repeats to me many times.

Johnny leaves Shoe and I to drink for a few minutes, then comes back with one of the hostesses who welcomed us to the party. Johnny matter-of-factly informs me that I can have her for the night for 500 rmb. I'm not interested and a little worried he's embarassing her talking so openly about this, but the next time I look over at her I almost burst out laughing. She's bent slightly forward at the waist, her back arched, and she's licking her teeth and lips and giving me the most whorish looks I've ever seen.

When I politely decline Johnny and Shoe seem dumbfounded, then consult with eachother, then again with the hostess, then tell me 300rmb is ok, if I'm short on cash. I can see this could go on all night, so I just tell them I have a girlfriend. Johnny and Shoe and the hostess seem to think this is a funny joke, but at least she finally leaves.

Eventually it's time to go and we pile into the elevator. We were on the top floor of a highrise and a few floors down another group crowds in. There are four men and a woman. The men are all pretty big for Chinese, taller than I and athletic looking. One of them is probably two meters tall and I guess they're part of some athletic team or something. They too have obviously been drinking, and they're swaggering and scowling and belligerent. One of them, who is wearing a greet t-shirt which says "sneaker genius" across the chest scowls and grumbles something when he sees me. I don't catch it but whatever it is, Johnny tells them I'm a good guy, and tells them I even speak some Cantonese. Johnny then prods me encouragingly, so I go into trained parrot mode and recite a little poem about rain flooding the streets, a boy selling firewood, and a road lined with pearls and butterflies. The men chuckle and the woman claps her hands and says I'm cute. Johnny keeps pushing me but I'm drunk and can't think of anything else nice so I say, "I have big dick money" and they laugh some more. Then I point to the elevator door and tell them to all get the fuck out. I'm not serious, obviously, but I learned this phrase earlier (it sounds something like: lahn-si gut lo, although I can't figure out the literal translation. whatever it is, the people who taught me to say it laughed long and hard when they heard me repeat it).

The response from the new group in the elevator is shocked and angry. Johnny is starting to look a little worried and trying to get me to shut up, but Shoe is laughing and egging me on so I tell the other group to go fuck their mothers. They're starting to yell and gesture and warning Shoe and Johnny to stop me. Johnny is tugging at my arm but now Shoe is laughing hysterically and telling them to fuck their mothers too. The biggest guy then points his finger in my face and yells something so I tell him that his whole family should fall down in the street and die and the next thing I know the elevator has erupted into a brawl.

Fortunately the others are even more drunk than we are and Johnny, Shoe and I manage to get the upper hand. As we leave the building we're still breathing hard, and Shoe seems to be sobbing a little, but by the time we get a block away Johnny is already starting to laugh. By the time we cross the second intersection Johnny and Shoe are laughing and slapping hands and patting backs and complementing me on my Gong Fu. Another block and they are yelling and throwing kicks and punch combinations into the night air which they never came close to throwing back in the elevator (but which I'm certain their friends at work will have to hear about for weeks to come). I want to join them in their celebration but guilt and remorse have already begun to sink in and at the next corner I tell them I'm heading home to sleep. We exchange cell phone numbers but I don't tell them that tomorrow will be my last day in China and I probably won't see them again.

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