1980年美国国家展(三):历史性的火鸡宴和单、复数的“古董”/ The US National Exhibition 1980 – Part Three



第一届美国国家展在中国展出了多种多样的美国产品,也使数以百计的美国商人首次来到中国。 / The first US National Exhibition in China brought hundreds of first-time American business visitors to China and displayed a wide range of U.S. products.

历史性的火鸡宴和单、复数的“古董”

事不凑巧,首届美国国家展在北京举办期间恰逢美国的重要节日——感恩节。参展的美国人非常不喜欢这种安排,因为感恩节是他们一年一度阖家团圆、大快朵颐的时候,但展览的组织者却坚持说,他们无法避开这个节日。

作为补偿,展览的主办方(美国商务部)花了很多心思,特意安排泛美航空公司将几百只冷冻火鸡空运到北京,再由北京饭店的厨房烹制,然后在北京饭店的大宴会厅举办了一次感恩节大宴会,让几百位美国代表吃上火鸡。

为了在京举办这次史无前例的火鸡宴,相关的物流和谈判事务非常复杂和棘手,但最终还是如愿以偿,取得了巨大成功,让美国人体会到宾至如归的感觉。宴会的声势非常大,竟然上了多家美国电视台下午六点播出的新闻节目,中国也对此做了很多报道。

当晚宴会的座位安排是事先定好的,与我同桌的大部分客人都是初次见面。

在我的右侧,坐着一位三十多岁的海外华裔男子,他的英语说得不错。

在我们俩的对面,则坐着一位英国中年妇女,她的美籍高管丈夫也坐在我们这一桌。这位女士衣着入时,特别是按那个年代北京的穿衣标准来衡量:她的上衣领口开得极低,脖子上戴着一条用中国古董瓷片做成的项链,非常抢眼。

同桌的客人都在努力相互熟悉和享受这个特殊的时刻。我右边的年轻男子则试图与坐在对面的女人搭讪。

他本想赞美女士的项链和上面不寻常的古董瓷片。然而不幸的是,他把“古董”一词的单、复数形式搞混了。他用羡慕的眼光盯着女士的胸部说:“您这对儿古董非常漂亮!”

英国女人不明白他到底羡慕哪对儿“古董”,所以给了他一个冻火鸡般冰冷的白眼。

年轻人发觉自己不小心说了错话,赶紧澄清:“我是说您的古董项链非常漂亮。”和平气氛恢复了。一切正常,那天晚上其余的交谈再也没有发生任何不愉快。

Historic Turkey Banquet, and One Antique Too Many

It so happened that the dates of the first US National Exhibition spanned a very important American holiday, Thanksgiving. This was very unpopular with the American visitors, for whom this is a big annual family gathering and feast; but the organizers insisted it was unavoidable.

To compensate, the organizers (the U.S. Department of Commerce) went to great lengths to arrange for hundreds of frozen turkeys to be flown into Beijing by Pan Am, cooked by the Beijing Hotel kitchens, and served to the hundreds of American delegates at a gala Thanksgiving banquet in the hotel’s grand ballroom.

The logistics and negotiations surrounding this unprecedented turkey dinner in Beijing were complex and challenging, but it finally came together and was a great success, providing the Americans with a sense of home away from home. So big was the fanfare that it was actually covered on the 6 pm news broadcast on several national TV networks back in the U.S. and on numerous Chinese news broadcasts as well.

Seating was assigned. At my table that evening, most of us were meeting for the first time.

On my right sat a 30-something year old overseas Chinese man who spoke quite good English.

Across the table from us was a middle-aged British woman, married to an American executive who was also seated at our table. She was very stylishly dressed, wearing a fairly low-cut top – especially by the dress standards of those days in Beijing — and an attractive necklace made from a piece of antique Chinese porcelain.

All of us at the table were doing our best to get acquainted and enjoy this special occasion. The young man to my right was trying to strike up a conversation with the woman seated opposite us.

His intention was to offer a complement about her necklace, with its unusual piece of old porcelain. Unfortunately, however, he mixed up the singular and plural forms, and said, as gazed admiringly at her chest: “Very nice antiques! ”

Wondering exactly which “antiques” he was admiring, the British woman gave him a withering look of equivalent temperature to a frozen turkey.

Realizing he had inadvertently said the wrong thing, he quickly clarified himself: “I mean your antique necklace is very nice.” Peace was restored. All was well, and the rest of the evening’s conversation went on without a hitch.


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