“我们长得像日本人吗?”(下) / "Do We Look Japanese?" (Part Two)

“我们长得像日本人吗?”(下)

清晨,我们到宾馆对面的公园散步,那里有很多人在打太极拳,还有一些老人在遛鸟,他们把竹笼和藤笼挂在树杈上。我陪同的客人对太极拳优美的姿态和它广为认可的保健作用印象颇深,此外打太极拳的人能够如此置身世外更让他们钦佩不已。他们高声讨论如果让美国人在这样的大庭广众之下练太极拳,能否得到身心的放松。

一天晚饭之后,我们又出去散步。夜生活在1949年以后的中国几乎绝迹,直到我们去旅游的那年也才从零起步。相较于作为改革试点的沿海大城市,内陆小城市在这方面就更为滞后。

我们路过一家影院,影院的小霓虹灯招牌上闪烁着酒吧和舞厅的字样。为了一探究竟,我们沿着楼外的梯子爬了上去。

屋里面灯光幽暗,四周摆放着一圈桌椅,房间的一头有几张台球案子,正中是空无一人的舞池。天花板上一个镜面玻璃小球不停地旋转着,折射出的光芒营造出些许欢快的迪斯科气氛。当时已是春天,空气里凉飕飕的,有点儿暴雨来袭的感觉。我的客人们身穿风雨衣,扮相好像从间谍片里走出的人物。

每张桌子似乎都有人坐。我们正在犹豫要不要找个地方坐下来,一个拿着手电筒的小伙子突然冒出来帮忙。只见他扬手一挥,干脆利落地撇出一句话,立刻就轰走了当地的一群小青年,给我们腾出了一张桌子。

他告诉我们这里的服务费是每人3块钱人民币,在当时大概折合0.5 美元,其中还包括一份饮料。很划算。

“来个百事可乐吧!”小伙子热情地说,语调中充满了对所在单位能够提供进口饮料的自豪之情。这在当时可是非同小可的标志。

我们友善地拒绝了他的建议,并点了一些中国产的啤酒。

“跳舞吧!”他催促说。我们再次友善地予以拒绝。

“他们跳舞还害臊呢!”他向四周的人群大声嚷道。

随着当地人发现有外国人来到自己的地盘,我们制造的欢愉甚至超过了那个映射喜庆气氛的玻璃球。一瞬间,舞厅里咯咯的笑声和叽叽喳喳的评论声一浪高过一浪。

“你们是日本人吗?”小伙子问道。

“我们长得像日本人吗?”我答道,然后补充说:“不,我们是美国人。”

“百事可乐也是美国的。”

对,你说的对。

“来个百事吧!”他又说了一次。现在先不要的,谢谢。随后我们又对中国的啤酒大加赞赏。

“跳舞吧!”他又极力邀请。现在先不跳,谢谢。

“他们还在害臊呢!”他又嚷了一遍。

过了一会儿,我们喝完啤酒起身离开。他依依不舍地说了声再见,还把我们送到楼梯底下。那个玻璃球现在肯定是松了一口气,因为它又可以重新主宰迪斯科舞场了。

快到宾馆大门时,我们看到一群身穿医生白大褂的人。他们坐在塑料板凳上,脸上架着布鲁斯兄弟乐队那样的墨镜,身后的树枝上挂着一块块白床单,上面用中文写着他们的按摩手艺如何精湛。在这些“布鲁斯兄弟”的身后四周都是老百姓打扮的助手。突然,我们周围响起了一片牛蛙似的高声鸣叫:

~杀~~”(“massage”,按摩的英文,正确发音应为[‘mæsɑ:ʒ, mə’s-]

“马~~鸡~”

~杀~~”

“马~~鸡~”

~杀~~”

听到这里,我们撒腿便跑。

离宾馆大门更近的地方有一群身着民族服装的少数民族妇女,手里举着各式各样的手织布在叫卖。

“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!”)

比起那些布鲁斯兄弟,她们没那么恐怖,但我们实在是太累了,就溜回了宾馆。

这个周末真是令人难忘而且充满乐趣。

“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

MAA-saa-GEE

MAA –SAA– GEE

We ran.

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.


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