“Hello! West! Het! Shoosh! Beg! Hello! Shain-gee moony!”（音译为“哈喽！悲心！毛子！蝎子！呆子！哈喽！环签！”正确发音应为“Hello! Vest! Hat! Shoes! Bag! Change money!”——即“你好！背心！帽子！鞋子！袋子！你好！换钱！”）
“Do We Look Japanese?” (Part Two)
We took an early morning stroll in the lovely park opposite our hotel where lots of people were practicing Tai Chi and some older folks were walking their pet birds, hanging their bamboo and rattan cages in the trees. Apart from the intrinsic beauty of Tai Chi and its widely recognized health benefits, my visitors were impressed at the lack of self-consciousness of the practitioners, and wondered aloud whether Americans would feel relaxed about practicing Tai Chi in a public park.
One night we went for a walk after dinner. Post-1949 China was just emerging from the zero-based nightlife era, and smaller inland cities still lagged behind larger coastal cities on the experimentation curve.
We walked past a movie theater with a small neon sign for a bar and disco. We went up a set of stairs on the outside of the building in order to investigate.
The room was dimly lit, with tables and chairs around the outer perimeter, several pool tables on one side, and an empty dance floor in the middle. A mirror ball twirling on the ceiling provided some festive disco flair. It was spring, the air was cool with a hint of possible rainfall, and my visitors were wearing trench coats, looking like characters from a spy movie.
Most tables seemed to be taken. As we hovered somewhat uncertainly looking for a place to sit, a young fellow with a flashlight leapt to our aid. With a swish of his hand and staccato phrase, he shooed a bevy of young locals away, clearing a table for us in the process.
He informed us there was a cover charge of Y3.00 per head, which at the time was roughly equivalent to US$0.50, and that included a drink. Fair enough.
“Have a Pepsi!” he said enthusiastically, clearly very proud of the fact that his establishment had an imported drink on offer. This was a mark of high distinction at the time.
We declined politely and ordered Chinese beer instead.
“Go dancing!” he urged. Again we declined, politely.
“They’re embarrassed to dance!” he announced to the crowd.
As the local patrons discovered foreigners in their lair, our presence began to rival the mirror ball for projecting festive flair. A wave of giggling, chattering, gaping, and chuckling swept the premises.
“Are you Japanese?” the young man asked.
“Do we look Japanese?” I responded, shortly adding that, no, we were Americans.
“Pepsi is American too!”
Yes. Right you are.
“Have a Pepsi!” he offered again. Not right now, thanks, adding a word of praise for Chinese beer.
“Dance!” he offered, very supportively. Not right now, thanks.
“They’re still embarrassed!” came the repeat announcement.
After awhile, we finished our beer and departed. He offered effusive goodbyes and walked us all the way down the stairs. The mirror ball no doubt heaved a sigh of relief as it regained its status as the high diva of disco fever.
As walked toward the main gate of our hotel, there was a gaggle of Chinese men in full-length white doctors’ gowns, all wearing Blues Brothers sunglasses, seated on plastic stools in front of bed sheets hung from the tree branches overhead, with hand written Chinese signs proclaiming the excellence of their massage skills. Behind and around the Blues Brothers were various assistant in civilian clothes. Suddenly, as if surrounded by bull frogs, a booming chorus erupted all around us:
“MAA –SAA– GEE“
“MAA –SAA– GEE“
“MAA –SAA– GEE“
Closer to the hotel gate was a group of gaily dressed women wearing minority tribal outfits and clutching a variety of hand-made textile products they had on sale.
“Hello! West! Het! Shoosh! Beg! Hello! Shain-gee moony!”
They were less intimidating than the Blues Brothers chorus, but we were tired and slipped back into the hotel.
It was a memorable and very fun weekend.