Dating in China continues, with my crazy Guangzhou Year.
It was a struggle at first to make friends when I moved to the suburban Panyu District. Wasn’t much of a foreigner scene in my neighborhood; I wasn’t lucky enough to immediately be introduced to cool neighbors like when I first moved to Shenzhen. I often used Guangzhoustuff.com, our local social networking portal, and knew a lot of bars and various interesting places to go. I am open to making Chinese friends, by the way, but I must be honest and admit I usually hang out with Chinese people who speak fluent English and are in the expat scene. For the Nth time, that’s why my Mandarin is passable yet not that fluent-good.
One of the first people I met wasn’t through Gzstuff.com at all, but through Pof.com. Wouldn’t you know? As far as the big free dating websites go, Okcupid seems to be more for relationships and Pof (stands for plenty of fish) seems to be more for *ahem* simply getting laid.
It’s all about the scarcity. In my experience, Okcupid has too much detail. When you fill out all those questionnaires, and endlessly list your favorite music and favorite movies and favorite books, it’s more about friendship than forging attraction. Too much in common is great, but somehow doesn’t usually work when it comes to animal attraction. Honestly I’ve become platonic friends with girls I met on Okcupid more than once, and that’s fine even if not the point.
On the other hand, the brevity of Pof makes for projection and fantasy, which are key qualities in attraction. Just tell barely enough about yourself to get people interested in more. That’s the trick. Guess I could say I had more than a bit of ‘success’ in my Pof escapades…
Anyway, I met Kendra. I met some Chinese girls too in those early days. Later I will go on and on about more people I met throughout the year. Allow me to focus on Kendra for now.
She was from Florida. She was quite curvy. She had energy. She was in a long-distance relationship with her boyfriend back home, and she was in an open relationship with him (and I did not feel guilty at all in this instance). She was wild. She was the first girl I was with since I broke up with Zoey. We celebrated my birthday and got very drunk and stayed in hotels and lots of stimulating conversation.
She was ambitious with her own writing goals, and I don’t think she’s written much anything of merit lately. She was a feminist. Outspoken. Spunk. She was a sensualist. She reinforced my negative prejudices on Florida. She was crazy.
I looked her up by specifying the settings on Pof. First, I looked for white girls in Guangzhou. No offense to the beautiful Chinese women out there, but culturally I was in the mood to meet someone I could more relate to. Then I checked the advanced search engine for smokers, drinkers, all that. They actually had a setting for drugs. And when you looked for someone who used drugs, she actually came up that she did. I may not be not be a stoner, and she very much is, but at least that showed she was somewhat interesting.
I thought she must be cool. Started a chat, she responded, and I learned she even lived in another distant part of Panyu. Providence. We got to meet one day.
And interesting she was. We met at a bar and talked about books. Then, hippie girl that she was, she insisted we go to a natural park setting and we took a cab and snuck into a closed golf course and proceeded to run around naked and steal golf balls and were chased away by security guards. I still have those golf balls today. Memoires. 🙂
This is a good story. The time I we all swam naked in my community pool.
I had a Couchsurfing party, invited various new friends and some new ones met online. It was a successful party, and ran late. Into the wee hours of the night there were only a few left, Kendra among them. As I walked someone out to show them where to hail a taxi, I passed by a swimming pool and realized that it was completely dark, and, more than a little tipsy, I had an idea.
My garden had two pools, one right next to the residential buildings where everyone could see you but another at the community clubhouse. And it was completely dark at night. It occurred to me that you could run around naked and pretty much get away with it.
There were only five left in the party: us two Americans, an Austrian guy, a Chinese girl, and a Russian girl. I walked us out and suggested we swim. They said they had no suits, and I said no problem! Me and the Austrian fellow shyly stripped in the dark and swam around, but Kendra was totally open with being nude. The Chinese girl and the Russian girl weren’t into it. They sat at a bench and talked and watched the shadows. Kendra walked out to them with no shame and tried to convince them to get in and splash around with us. Totally free, totally nudist.
That was her style. Sounds fun, yes?
Friends – benefits or otherwise – no more
She did have more than a few negative qualities. She was smart, but a bit too young and idealistic. Freshly graduated, she was very into academic feminism and sometimes that’s to the detriment of having a normal conversation. Now, I am extremely sympathetic to feminism. I really am. Though the term means different things to different people, at its core it is about fairness to all human beings and I try my best to completely support that.
But sorry, I just don’t want to hear about the patriarchy every single time I talk. I’m bloody sorry I’m male and I have privilege and I can’t do anything about it other than live my life actively trying not to be a misogynist. I decided long ago, overwhelmed with all the injustices around the globe of which I am all too aware of, that I can’t save the world and I’ll simply live my own life in the least harmful way possible. That’s it. Enough with the constant lectures.
We had debates. Those debates turned to arguments at times. But the biggest source of conflict wasn’t political or social, it was over the ambiguity of our kinda-sorta relationship.
There was her weird open relationship with her long-distance boyfriend. She would talk about it with me all the time. Sometimes she loved him and sometimes she wanted to leave him. No we weren’t an official couple by any means, she was not my girlfriend. But we were occasionally sleeping together and I didn’t want to hear that subject matter. I had to ask her to stop talking about the guy. Some girls are just not tactful.
So I used to go to this college art bar in Tianhe District near the music schools. They always had good shows. One day I met her after a gallery show, and Kendra was hanging out with an Couchsurfer backpacker dude from Australia. They got along swell and flirted heavy and she wanted to take him to my apartment to smoke pot. Her roommate wouldn’t let her smoke up in her own place, but she wanted to get her gear there and then taxi to my apartment. These distances were very far you understand, taxi rides were not cheap.
It was a whole ordeal. I said no, and she begged me, and then I said fine. We all went to her place, waited forever as the meter ticked and she got her stuff, and then went to my place. It was truly ridiculous. In retrospect, why didn’t they just go to a hotel or some other place the next day? Why on earth did I let her drag me around and use my home?
After a very expensive cab fare and a mission to find cigarettes, it was a very late night. I crashed as the sun came up, and they had their fun in the guest room of my large apartment. Of course they fucked. I heard a bit, and I do not want to hear that. I woke the next day sleep-deprived and had more to deal with; she lost her phone and she overslept – it was a work day on top of that – and she had to call off and find the number online and make it through the Mandarin language barrier. She was a complete train wreck, so much chaos. After a while it isn’t cute anymore. Finally, I took care of it and got them out of my house.
I don’t blame the Australian guy. If I was him, I would have done the same thing. Great travel experience from his point-of-view. But what she knowingly did to me was extremely disrespectful. I know she wasn’t tied to me, but we kinda had a thing – a something or other. How could she fuck someone else in the next room over?! How could I give in and let her use my place at all?! I must admit I am a sucker at times, sometimes I let people completely walk all over me. This was one of those times.
I later expressed how I felt she disrespected me and she apologized. We saw each other around occasionally after that, but I decided to spend my time with other people and we weren’t close anymore. She was one of my first ‘friends’ in Guangzhou and it got ruined.
We don’t keep in touch anymore. Last I heard she had a young Asian boyfriend. Maybe she’s back in Florida for now, getting high and making messes.
The truth is, I wasn’t that nice to her either. With our ambiguous weird thing, I sort of kept her as a backup when I was lonely and she did the same to me and that’s no way to treat people. Everyone deserves better. We’re all consensual adults here, but we still have some growing to do. We still need to get a better sense of how to make each other happy, and how to not use one another…
Live and learn. There would be a lot of further living and learning in my Guangzhou Year.