May 9th, 2009

The conversation took a turn along these lines:

San Fran: But was his shirt tucked in or out? Pink shirts should never be tucked in.

Me: It’s simply illegal for men to wear pink.

Boston: Y’know, pink shirts were all the rage in the 70s.

Me: Yeah, and as a result, the UN Security Council in 1981 passed Resolution 2014 forbidding the wearing of pink by all men. It’s just plain wrong, and has been straight out illegal since then.

Please note: I was not being entirely serious, and apart from certain factual details, I am not being entirely serious with the rest of this post. Anyway, that was a couple of days ago, and since then- as a subconscious result of that conversation or perhaps because it’s becoming fashionable again, I don’t know- I’ve been seeing more and more men wearing pink shirts.

But today takes the cake. Today I was sitting in a window seat at a nearby restaurant I visit infrequently- it’s a friendly enough place and the boss is decent, but the food is merely edible and does not justify the very slightly longer walk- when a man parked his Suzuki Swift outside. A Swift- so what? Indeed, so what? I’ve always been partial to smaller cars, they’re much more fun to drive. But this Swift was painted the kind of 13-year-old-girl-and-her-Barbie-dolls pink that no car, no matter how “feminine” should ever be painted.

And here I was thinking that the apparent increase in pink shirts showed the decline in this city’s morals….


[ahem] Yeah, so I was sitting there alone in 不二家 eating lunch, nursing a beer or two, watching the world go by, sometimes pondering, mostly just feeling and absorbing. The group behind me sounded like their conversation was about to heat up, judging by some of the words thrown around, but they stayed calm. Off in the far corner a large group was getting stuck in to the booze and the- what’s the Irish word? craic?- and voices were raised in excitement and syllables drawn out in that beery attempt at emphasis and good-natured smack-down. The TV was on CCTV 5, which switched between F1, football, and table tennis before settling on snooker (or pool or billiards or one of those non-sports that have been elevated to a ridiculous status. Sports involving hitting balls around a table are activities for washing down beer, not sports). Outside, the wind, which had been breezing all morning, was starting to pick up, and the cloud cover seemed to be getting thicker. There was- still is- a certain energy in the air, a certain ragged, still unfocussed edge to the weather suggestive of another of those summer storms that hit hard and fast, leaving the air scrubbed clean and the city battered but grateful. I decided it was time to move, so availed myself of a certain facility then paid the bill.

The combination of spring weather and my workload have left me feeling permanently worn out, but I was picking up some restless energy from the air and feeling in need of at least a stroll, so hung a left on stepping out the restaurant door and wandered down through the alley. The, umm, “bar”- a bar of a kind I’m not sure I’m young enough to venture into for curiosity’s sake anymore-  just 20 metres on had a cop car parked out front. There was a cop and a civilian outside the bar talking, partly to each other, partly the cop on a cellphone. A security guard was standing by the car- an old Santana station wagon, lights still flashing- with another sitting on the car’s back seat, both looked eternally bored. Nothing was happening, sorry, no excitement to report. And so I wandered on.

I stopped in the market whose name I never remember, the one roughly at the mid-point of Wusheng Lu, and decided to sift through the DVD stalls. Slim pickings. I think that’s the first time I’ve been DVD shopping and left with only one DVD- Jia Zhangke’s latest. They also had one claiming to be Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking, but I’ve seen and read that a long time ago, and I’m more interested in seeing the two new ones, Lu Chuan’s and the one about John Rabe, at least to see what the fuss is about.

On my way out of the market, some middle aged guy waving a broom was sprinting around making weird noises like he was trying to call a mutant cat and yelling about a 耗子- a mouse or rat, that he insisted was huge. It apparently ran under the pot plants in the pot plant/goldfish store, and a couple of kids and one or two of the neighbouring shopkeepers gathered around, one getting another broom to help the first guy flush the giant rat out. I decided to hang around to see just how big this rat was- and in the process, heard a woman at a stall behind me point out to her neighbour that I’m from New Zealand (I’m wearing my Kiwi Club t-shirt, all she needed to do to figure out my nationality was to read). No luck. The rat- which by this time others were insisting was just a little mouse- had managed to disappear in that way rodents have of disappearing into holes us big, dumb humans can’t see.

So I wandered down another lane, one that runs parallel to the one I’d come down, that pops out on the northern side of the hotel built on top of what not too many years back was a stinky canal, the sky getting heavier and seemingly more pregnant, but the wind seeming to die off a little. The lane isn’t much, just a stretch of hastily laid concrete lined with apartment blocks varying from that ’50s or ’60s, brick, 5 to 7 storey barracks style up to medium high rises built probably in the 90s, but very few buildings younger than 10 years old, bisected by a high-tension power line that puts a convenient break in the apartment blocks allowing for a small, make-shift park with a few trees and some sparsely-grassed dirt.

Popping out on Xidawang Lu, I stopped in Dia for a few supplies, then came home.

The breeze isn’t as strong as it was this morning, but even so the sky seems darker. Feels unsettled in that late-spring, early summer way. Weather-wise, it’s a very comfortable day for a Wellington lad.

Yeah, I s’pose I should be busy googling around for evidence to convict certain of my students of plagiarism, but it’s the kind of day that requires laziness, the kind of day that demands to be wasted.

2 Responses to “bitses”

  1. Richard Says:

    Not a waste of a day at all if you managed to get in all that observation and description…

  2. wangbo Says:

    Thanks, Richard. I guess I was in the right mood for that observation.