It’s the third time you’ve been to Starbucks today, you think, as you struggle to open the door while clutching your KFC takeout. The smell of Pumpkin Spice Lattes brings a sense of familiarity. You are not a fan of being surrounded by Chinese, especially given the price of a coffee, but the corner is dark, it’s quiet, and it’s perfect for writing your next article while you wait for the American guy you met on Tinder.
You are wearing a pair of flats and no makeup. Still, two Chinese guys are clearly giving you a look of interest, but you avoid eye contact as Chinese guys mostly disgust you.
Your date is held up in traffic. Perfect time to chow down that KFC Hanbao. On your right sits a Chinese girl, talking to a blonde guy in her broken English. She laughs hard at the guy’s stupid joke, and in return he gently lays his hand on her lap. They are definitely going to fuck tonight, you think, and that Hello Kitty star has to be 10 years younger than him! You bet she can’t even give a good blowjob!
Three years ago you walked into this Starbucks for the first time. You wore a pair of flats and no makeup. A Chinese guy bumped into you, and you started to talk. A week later he asked you out for hot pot, and then invited you over to his place to use the toilet. Later in life you’d realize it was just a trick to get a one night stand, but at that moment you were excited, not only because you had never been with a Chinese before, but also because he had a car.
Driving back to his Andingmen apartment, you were nervous. Is his penis small? How many weeks has it been since i shaved ‘down there’? Will I have to speak Chinese? A million questions swirled in your mind. But when he took off all your clothes and saw your hairy legs you realized that was the thing you should have been worried about.
Your date walks in and apologizes for being late. He wears a short-sleeve button down which makes you swoon. He goes and grabs a coffee and you have a moment together bitching about the price. You start to talk loudly about how much you hate China, trying to prove that you are better than the Beijing girl sitting at the table next to you. After finding out that he’s a fellow English teacher, you start sharing classroom tales.
You were not always unlucky in your love life. In fact, you had plenty of good experiences when you were back in America. You slowly learned all the dos and don’ts of dating: never split the bill, demand your space, bring your own condoms, and don’t commit easily. You weren’t a slut, but you needed to know the rules to be part of the game. And there are a lot of rules!
Those time are over now. You finally met a cute white guy and your spirits soared. He worked at English First just like you and could even say a few words in Chinese. After casually dating for 5.20 hours you made it official. And though that you knew he’d never be as cheesy as a Chinese boyfriend, you liked how he respected your opinions and treated you like an independent woman.
The sex was terrible, but you still texted your friends once you got into the cab of shame the next day. You kept your eyes closed, thinking about how the morning sunlight left shades under his black hair. You thought about introducing him to your friends, and how embarassed you would be. You thought about him taking you back to his hometown for Chinese New Year, and how you wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone. You even thought about marrying him on a beach in Hainan and having cute mixed babies. Smiling to yourself, you soon dozed off, not knowing that he would never marry a white girl.
Other than that, your relationship was smooth. You saw each other once during the week when he wasn’t going to Quiz Night. You spent weekends together but you left on Saturday morning because he had to practice frisbee. He took you to your favorite activities – a July 4th BBQ, that local Sushi restaurant, Papa Johns, and tons more: McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and of course Element Fresh. Your stomach was packed, and you felt happy.
But even so, the social scene with his friends still bothered you for some reason. As you didn’t speak any Chinese when you met him, you struggled to understand what he was saying to the local girls who kept coming by. “Ni hao” and “Zai jian” might be easy to pick up, but his 88 word Chinese vocabulary proved far too challenging. You were like the five-year old nobody took seriously, or an inner-tube dragged behind his speedboat. You got tired of pretending to understand when he kept whispering in her ear. You stayed home alone when everyone went to the KTV. And you were seriously pissed when Chinese girls said stuff like “Oh my God, you are so thin!!”.
“It’s not you, it’s me,” he said when he broke up with you a week later. You were frustrated. Why don’t you just find another Chinese guy who would carry your purse and pay for everything? You dwelled on this question, but once you thought of the life with a Chinese guy – the macho expectations, the subservience – you knew you could never handle it. Plus they always seemed to disappear when the relationship got serious.
Your date switches the topic, and begins talking about how hard learning Chinese has been. He tries to teach you a few words, but you’re busy staring at his huge biceps. He’s boring but at least he’d be a good fuck, you think. But is a good fuck what you need? In the past two weeks you have hooked up with a dirty Brit, a few African guys, a nerdy Frenchman and a Danish backpacker. You will be 34 years old soon. Shouldn’t you be looking for something more?
Your date offers to pay for your drink, and you accept. The kindergarten just doesn’t pay you what you’re worth! When you walk out to the main street, you try to shove your tongue down his throat.
But there would be no sex tonight, he says, as another of those skinny Chinese bitches is calling him! Outside of the window the fleeting city lights have begun to streak past. You think about how another lovely night has been wasted. Five Chinese guys are texting you good night, but you couldn’t care less.
Your date has started talking about how much he loves Dumplings and how he will become an English teacher after graduation just to stay here. Bored, you start to think back on all the interesting conversations you had dating in America – about Sex and the City, about Social Justice, or about Feminist History. You actually quite liked one guy in particular, but as usual, you got bored.
Damn it, you think. I’m going back to America.