Candy girls

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The poor “candy girls”

#CocoPark

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My Interview on Speaking of China:

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Please read my interview concerning my eBook Pearl River Drama for the website Speaking of China.

Many thanks to fellow Ohioan-expat Jocelyn Eikenburg for the interviewing me, and for appreciating my meager writings.

 

Interview with Ray Hecht on “Pearl River Drama: Dating in China”

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Presenting an updated cover of Pearl River Delta

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http://amazon.com/author/rayhecht

As readers should know by know, I have compiled together my Dating in China stories into a tell-all eMemoir. While you can read the blogs here for free, if you want to know even more to these stories and beyond then there’s a Kindle document for sale…

You can also read the eBook for free if you just ask, I’ll email it to you and a mere review on the Amazon link would be appreciated 🙂

The latest edition includes a bonus: the silent comic I drew last year. A friend recommended I add that, and I thought not a bad idea.

Previously posted here- https://rayhecht.com/2014/02/24/3/

I’d like to thank the very talented Jeridel Banks for the above design. The consensus is in, and pretty much everyone agrees this cover is much better than the one I did myself.

If you ever have any design or editing needs, please join Odesk.com and check out her profile: www.odesk.com/o/profiles/users/_~01a930cbc899bcc679

She comes highly recommended!

Ms. Banks’ writing can be found at at The Ends Don’t Tie with Bunny Rabbits via tiewithbunnyrabbits.com

Pearl River Drama: A Memoir

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQQIA26

 

I have now completed my memoirs, in eBook form.

You may be familiar with the Dating in China blogs already, but there’s more to the story…

I have decided to edit them, and put them out there as an eMemoir of sorts on Amazon’s Kindle Direct Press.

Yet, this is not just a simple copy-paste and proofread for typos. Since this version isn’t all out there online for free, I have written more to the story. Certain personal, more graphic details. Certain things left unsaid that would be unbecoming on a public forum.

Not to mention further chapter continuing where the blog left off, and an epilogue.

If you’ve enjoyed my writings this past year, you may enjoy taking a look. And if you’d like to write a review on Amazon yourself, I will happily forward you a copy!

Even if you only have fond memories of reading the previously-blogged edition and prefer to leave it at that, it would be very considerate if you shared some thoughts. Positive or negative, tell the world what you think. Link above.

Thanks very much to all you readers out there!

 

 

— —

When one nerdy, young American moved from California to China in the autumn of 2008, he had no idea what was coming. He knew there would be an adventure and it would have its challenges, but he didn’t know it could get that bad.

From the deserts of Black Rock City, Nevada, to the towering metropolis of Hong Kong, this memoir takes our humble writer all across the globe in search of love. Well, maybe not always searching for love, but in search for something.

It starts on a psychedelic trip in Burning Man, and continues in the “overnight city” of Shenzhen. That’s in the Pearl River Delta, among the densest megacities on Earth. In breakup after breakup, one lonely expat struggles to understand the Chinese mystique. Featuring an ensemble cast of international girls, he had many experiences and leaned a few lessons along the way. The story continues to further exotic locations: Beijing, Canton, Bangkok, Manila, Ohio, the ruins of Cambodia, and Seattle.

Once or twice, he may have even found love. And lost it. Hearts were broken. Minds were mended. All in a haze of romance encounters, online dating, and travel.

This is his story. Complete with travel photos, and quotations from “Seinfeld” and Mo Yan.

DATING IN CHINA

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DATING IN CHINA


(Table of Contents)

Firstly, from 2008 on:

Prologue: How I came to China

Part 1: Burning Man
I go to a big trippy festival

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man
I expand my mind and receive an invite abroad

Introductions

Intro to Dating in China
First things first, let me explain how this thing will work

I arrive in China
The story officially begins, I get here

Girls

Mona
My first China-based girlfriend, and how that didn’t work out

Julia
The next level… Sigh, was it love?

Mary
A summer romance, a brief flight, all too innocent

Annie – Sky – Lulu – more
Singlehood, bachelor life, the learning process, playing the field…

Zoey

The Beginning
Long-term relationship begins, a defining point in my life

An American intermission
You can’t go ‘home’, and I try and I fail and I drift

The End
Finally, and sadly, nothing lasts forever

 

GUANGZHOU YEAR
In the city… the city of Canton…

And now, 2011 to early 2012:

My Guangzhou Year 1
An intro to the new status quo, as I pack up move to the ancient land of Canton/
the modern megacity of Guangzhou

Dating GZ Edition – Kendra
First story, I meet a crazed American abroad and adventured therein
Public nudity and disrespect, among other themes

China to Thailand to Cambodia
I travel, I bring a certain Cynthia, I make mistakes
But hey, that’s life and at least I got to see a new place

Dating – visitors and friends, others
Some characters from previous entries reappear, old friends reunite, a funny story happened one day
This time it’s not just about me

Rejected in Guangzhou
The stories everyone seems to want to know. Rejected!
Featuring Josephine, Seline, and more

The End – my humble successes
On a final positive note, sometimes life works out rather fine
It was a good year, I experienced a lot
I really shouldn’t complain

 

2012

Back to Shenzhen
In which I return to this town that somehow suits me

Emma
I begin the online game~

Jeanie
I have a girlfriend! I really did!

Yuki
I must admit, things got a tad gross.
Hope this wasn’t the beginning of a certain pattern…

 

2013: Epic Clusterfuck Year

Not Dating in America (and Hong Kong, and Canada)
2012 comes and goes and the world doesn’t end,
Meanwhile a bad start as I embark upon a year of drama bullshit

The Stalker
In which I make a foul choice which ends up following me around all year.
Dark times. No fun.

Carmen
I meet someone cool and travel to the Philippines
A brief positive note, albeit all too brief

Sonia – Jing – Amelia
POF, a site, met some peoples from differing lands, times are had,
and then I quit online dating forever more

The Very End
And I do mean it, the very very end.
I reflect and I consider and now it is time to move forward–

Dating in China 2012 – 2013

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PREVIOUS MEGAPOSTS

Dating in China 1
From Burning Man to Shenzhen, covering mid-2008 to early 2011

My Guangzhou Year
In the city… the city of Canton…

 

2012

Back to Shenzhen
In which I return to this town that somehow suits me

Emma
I begin the online game~

Jeanie
I have a girlfriend! I really did!

Yuki
I must admit, things got a tad gross.
Hope this wasn’t the beginning of a certain pattern…

 

2013: Epic Clusterfuck Year

Not Dating in America (and Hong Kong, and Canada)
2012 comes and goes and the world doesn’t end,
Meanwhile a bad start as I embark upon a year of drama bullshit

The Stalker
In which I make a foul choice which ends up following me around all year.
Dark times. No fun.

Carmen
I meet someone cool and travel to the Philippines
A brief positive note, albeit all too brief

Sonia – Jing – Amelia
POF, a site, met some peoples from differing lands, times are had,
and then I quit online dating forever more

The Very End
And I do mean it, the very very end.
I reflect and I consider and now it is time to move forward–

 

Not to be continued.

–Thanks for the memories!!

 

Ray

Dating in China – The Very End.

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A picture of me I took yesterday

2013, as I keep saying, was my Epic Clusterfuck Year.

Online dating, star-crossed romance, stalking, embarrassments abroad. I had it all.

Meanwhile, my so-called ‘career’ began to slowly take off. I published many an article, worked as a copy-editor, got a certain book deal. I moved, I moved again. All the while searching for that perfect match, and when the search availed I started again, with more baggage piling up and more losses to show for it.

It used to be that I did my thing, make the ol’ money and moderately exercise and read books and study, and I was more or less productive. I was prolific, and nobody in the world knew. Then this year came, it all escalated, I had no more time to myself, and I know my craft suffered for it.

In the end, I had very little to show. Very little to brag of indeed.

And yet, it got even worse. The story was far from over.

And yet, I will not continue this story.

 

I thank all you readers for being interested in my petty life, and for letting me share and purge. It’s been very therapeutic. I do hope it’s been a good read.

Unfortunately, we are now catching up to the present, and it is still too soon. It is getting a bit too real.

It’s awkward enough when I’ve written these things and someone out in real life tells me they remember that time. I shan’t do that anymore. I’m not out to expose secrets here; I’m obviously not completely into anonymity either, but I do have limits.

So that is that.

 

Allow me merely be reflective upon a memoir’s epilogue not yet written.

Wait a year or two or ten, and I may get back to you in more detail.

It’s a shame, it would have made for some great writing… Woulda’ been ten blogs worth at least…

 

Sigh: One. Her. Pejorative Nickname. I had a whole internal dialogue about what pseudonym or pronoun to use and what level of respect is accorded, and I will not share the conversation with you! Sorry.

 

Nevermind that.

Look. I know I’m not particularly innocent. I know I’m not.

But there was one day I lost the very last shreds of my innocence, and I can never ever get it back.

I heard things I never heard before, I was told things no one else has ever since told me.

That lasts.

I am, however, so over it.

 

I’m slightly better at relationships since that time. A little bit. A teensy, tiny, very little bit. But slightly better nonetheless.

A better class of person has graced my own personage, and know that it is appreciated.

I learned about all I could learn from the scenario. Okay? Okay?!! Okay.

At this point in my life I’d prefer to play it cool. Grow somewhat, take things seriously, and simultaneously be cool.

To get over myself, as it were.

Enough already with the self-indulgence.

 

It is 2014. In fact, 2014 is almost over. It is an even-numbered year, and I tend to do better in even-numbered years. It has been a year of much reflection and evolution, it truly has.

I hope I can keep it up.

Soon it will be another odd-numbered year, and it will be hard on me and I’ll need all the help I can get.

There are new challenges to consider, new stages in life and amazing things yet to occur. There will be novelty. There will be grace. There will be magic and fire and art and power.

Time to seize this living thing.

 

The dealing-with-my-issues stage is over. It is now time to go go go–

 

 

Wish me luck.

 

 

 

Thanks again for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

–Ray

Dating in China – Last of the POFs

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For me, 2013 was the most dramatic of years. It started slow, with early episodes displaying a simple lack of confidence and success. Then I tried to make up for lost time, and went too far. I found myself stuck in the quagmire of drama and heartache and stalking.

Throughout the year, while I did go to a whole other country for romance, in the meantime I tried my best to put myself out there and meet cooler girls, and was subsequently rejected multiple times. Chinese and foreigners alike. Former coworkers, girls I met on the subway, all those I met in real life seemed not to be impressed by me. So I went by the tried-and-true method of online dating, and that means the website of POF…

 

Sonia

Early into the year’s journeys, I emailed a pleasant helo to Sonia. She was an engineer from Iran who lived in the outer suburbs of Shenzhen. (A suburb in a Chinese doesn’t mean picket fences. It means desolate places near factories and far from the interesting, modern parts of the city.) We flirted and I invited her on a tour of downtown, with me as guide.

Being from Iran, it was very interesting to talk to Sophia about politics and culture. Nothing was off-limits. I was left with a very good impression of modern Iran, which sadly is an impression that many Americans do not get these days.

I could put out a disclaimer to everyone: Not only am I Jewish, I was born in Israel. It is my heritage and my ethnicity, but I don’t think of it as having that much to do with my identity these days. My father is American and I moved to the U.S. as a baby. I know no Hebrew. I am basically an atheist — I like to call myself a “mystical atheist” but no time for an extensive theological discussion here — and I feel great antagonism towards organized religion. I have zero interest in going to Israel and joining the military to fight for an apartheid state surrounded by brainwashed lunatics, thank you very much.

Culturally, the Jewish people have brought great advances to Western culture as well as science. I think history has shown educated liberal Jews going to America is a perfect fit. Politically and culturally, Israel is another story. It is a somewhat messier and more complex place, and I do not think history has shown that Zionism has accomplished much of anything at all. Well, too late now. The region is what it is. I do not wish to delve too deeply into controversial politics, that’s not the point of this blog. Just letting you know how I feel, just letting you know where I’m coming from when it comes to meeting Persian girls.

Sonia did not seem to be racist against Jews whatsoever. She came across as a very worldly open-minded person, and she gave me a hell of a chance. She did tell me that it was hell to be in Saudi Arabia, and Iranians liked traveling to Turkey so they could act out more freely. She was politically very much against Israel, and on that I pretty much agreed.

Iranians abroad, from my understanding, tend to reject theocratic-conservative values and do whatever they want to do as 21st century human beings. Sonia confirmed this. She had no issues with being the naively feminine sort; and yeah there was intimacy that first night.

She wasn’t my type, to be perfectly honest. Attraction-wise. A big girl albeit with a pretty face, but I’m simply not into big girls. What we had between us was an opportunity I wanted to experience, and hence we shared an experience. I have now learned on an intrinsic level that young Iranians are absolutely not religious fundamentalists, I know it as deeply as possible, and hey I hope that can be good for American-Iranian relations.

So, it definitely wasn’t any potential boyfriend-girlfriend dating situation and she knew it. I guess we were supposed to be fuckbuddies, as certain expats abroad like to do to pass the time, but we never ended up repeating the experience.

She invited me to her place to cook one another time, and it was very nice of her. But I didn’t like that area. I didn’t stay over. We made some other plans but kept cancelling and it didn’t develop. I don’t remember the details, but I do recall a text saying that it was over and she got mad at me. Perhaps I was dating someone else, perhaps there was some overlapping drama at that junction. It all became something of a blur in the midst of that year.

I hope I wasn’t too rude.

I hope I didn’t leave her with a poor impression of Jewish Americans.

 

Jing

I met Jing on POF, and we corresponded a while before meeting. Always too busy, she was yet another girl who lived far away, and even our first date when we finally did meet it was a bad date. Luckily, she gave me another chance.

Somehow, over the course of the year, Jing became my most stable friend-with-benefits. For several months, she was my most drama-free of dates and for that I will forever be grateful to her.

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Dating in China – Jeanie, girlfriends

about to cut the long hair
Finally cutting the long hair, an era ended. She took the picture

In the midst of my general soul-searching of late, I realize that I put too much prudence on the idea of having a girlfriend. As opposed to the specific individuality of a person and how her personality and vibe would match with mine. I tend to rely too much on false hope, without any real foundation, and reap the consequences of such later. This kind of thing may go for this episode.

Mid-2012. I was meeting girls from time to time, whatever. I wanted more. I wanted a partner, stability, someone to hang out to always be there to hang out with me. Tired of the chase, I wanted the idea.

I met Jeanie on the ol’ website. She thought I was interesting, and funny! Believe it or not.

She was Chinese; she was educated and worked in some international company. I think she made more money than me.

She had the most perfect skin. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman I ever met, but she was the most beautiful woman I ever met online.

The problem with meeting a partner online, I always say, is it’s not a good story of how you met.

But who really cares about the stigma of dating online that in this day and age?

I suppose the simple truth of why it didn’t work out is we didn’t have all that much in common. We ran out of things to talk about. I’d repeat myself. There wasn’t that much to confide, not that much to be deep over.

For a while, we did have a pleasant routine. She was always busy with work, which was far away in Luohu. We went to all the cool dating places early on, such as when we went to the top of the KK Building – tallest building in Shenzhen. I tried taking her to parties but she wasn’t into it. The rave was a particularly bad idea, she was so bored. There was one cool episode when she babysat me tripping on smuggled psilocybin chocolate at Lianhua Mountain.

But sooner or later, every weekend would roll around and she would be too tired to go about town and she just wanted to chill in my Meilin apartment. I suppose nothing wrong with that. Just the two of us tended to be quite nice. We watched a lot of Mad Men.

I was very serious about writing back then, and spent most of my free time on my novel. I didn’t need to be a super fun-time-all-the-time social butterfly type, and she didn’t want that from me. My popularity in the Shenzhen scene was waning. “Didn’t you move to Guangzhou?” everyone said, unaware that I’d been back for a while and uncaring. Which suited me fine. I was in my own little world.

We did travel once. We only went to Zhuhai, but we did go there together and it was nice.

Zhuhai is beach town two hours away from Shenzhen. I’ve been there several times. It borders the former Portuguese colony – and current gambling pit – of Macau, and is one of the four original Special Economic Zones of reformed China. (Shenzhen, by the by, being the first of the SEZs.)

Zhuhai happens to be her hometown, and she was visiting her family one holiday three-day weekend and I decided to tag along. After her filial duties, I bused over and met her at a hotel. She showed me around some islands and we taxied around to eat and to shop and to see the sights. It’s a fun place to explore at night.

“Welcome to Zhuhai,” she said on the hotel bed.

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Dating in China – Emma, online

SAM_1371Not directly related to post below, but when I went to Taipei later that year. The mood seems to apply somehow

Spring of 2012. Upon returning to Shenzhen, I was in a bit of a dry spell. Or rather, continuing a bit of a dry spell. Life was going well enough, I was productive and working out often and biking and writing and generally getting used to my newly familiar setting. Self-growth, nicely, for the most part. But I guess I was out of practice in one regard. It happens.

Various rejections. In person and online. Whatever. Finally, I decided to take some dreaded pickup advice. Ach, that whole thing. Off and on I must admit I’ve been into that. Not something I need consider these days, but at the time I figured why not…

I went on POF and made a new profile. I took a blurry picture of myself in goggles and a funny hat – a bit apprehensive that anyone might recognize me – and proceeded to create the most ridiculous profile possible. The kind of thing you can’t even mock, a total caricature of an entitled prick who thinks he’s some gift to women and is totally arrogant about it. All intentions put out there. It is total bullshit, and I’d have no need to do this thing nowadays, but it was the time to rack up experience. What can I say?

“Run away,” I wrote. “If you know what’s good for you.”

That’s called disqualification, or some such shit.

Wouldn’t you know it? The damn thing actually worked.

Thing was, I was funny. Nobodytook it seriously, they just enjoyed the crass humor because was something different than the usual horde of desperate lonely men on dating sites.

First, I met a nice girl named Emma. I peaked her interest; we chatted for a while.

I do like communicating by email. I am in control of my thoughts, no awkward pauses, and I can edit accordingly before hitting send. People usually get my sense of humor, although I sometimes can get myself in trouble. Naturally, the emails then upgraded to phone texting. Which is a medium I am also well experienced in though not my preference.

Everybody has their own preferred method of communication. Some people like long phone conversations. Some, a dying breed, write actual letters. I guess even my breed’s long emails is slowly becoming endangered. Most everybody is cool with just texting these days, for sure.

After texting upgraded to talks, we made plans. She bussed over to my neighborhood. Upon meeting in person, I immediately had to give up the facade and just act my usual dumb self.

She’s cute, I though. She was short. She wasn’t a knockout, but she had a certain style about her I could appreciate. I took her to a little whole-in-the-wall pub, escalated and so on, made out a bit.

She was a Chinese English teacher. That is, she’s a Chinese person who works as an English teacher. Hence, her English was rather good. We had good conversations. I liked talking to her.

My dateable standards definitely preclude fluent speakers of English only. Though I’m studying Mandarin as much as I can, to go on dates and make a human connection I need to have real conversation.

I don’t get that breed of expats who fuck girls they can’t even talk to, but those are a muddy breed indeed.

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DATING IN CHINA – MEGAPOST 1

And now for your reading enjoyment. In case you missed it before. Allow me to lay it all out.

Megapost of my personal dating memoirs, covering the time span of August, 2008 to February, 2011

Links, from the beginning:

Prologue: How I came to China

Part 1: Burning Man
I go to a big trippy festival

Part 2: Doing LSD at Burning Man
I expand my mind and receive an invite abroad

Introductions

Intro to Dating in China
First things first, let me explain how this thing will work

I arrive in China
The story officially begins, I get here

Girls

Mona
My first China-based girlfriend, and how that didn’t work out

Julia
The next level… Sigh, was it love?

Mary
A summer romance, a brief flight, all too innocent

Annie – Sky – Lulu – more
Singlehood, bachelor life, the learning process, playing the field…

Zoey

The Beginning
Long-term relationship begins, a defining point in my life

An American intermission
You can’t go ‘home’, and I try and I fail and I drift

The End
Finally, and sadly, nothing lasts forever

 

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Dating in Guangzhou – The end… my humble ‘successes’

206513_10150171831983411_5576_nSee end

Dating in China, blah blah. I’m coming to an endpoint here. At least the end of my Guangzhou Year point.

Yes, I was getting sick of GZ. But not sick of China yet, not even close. I decided to go back to the familiarity of another city, my default locale. Shenzhen is just where I would’ve ended up eventually anyway, might as well surrender to my destiny. I sincerely like it better, somehow it works for me. I can’t believe I’m still here.

Guangzhou, in all its overwhelming epicness, was a place to study and a place to learn yet not a place for permanence.

In this final installment of the Provincial Capital’s memories, let me be a bit more positive. I may have complained too much in previous entries; I should be more grateful for the wonderful experiences I’ve had. It wasn’t all lonely nights in Canton…

 

There was Nellie, whom I met on POF. She had an exotic face, a cutesy style, and she invited me to her glamorous home to drink French wine. I spent a weekend there, she was so gracious. Regaled with tales of work and travel.

She visited me in Shenzhen once too.

Then there was Janey, whom I met on gzstuff.com. It was all so natural and easy, she added me or I added her (who remembers at this point?) and I simply suggested we go on a date and then we did and it ended nicely.

She was very attractive, thoroughly modern, and studied yoga. She didn’t mind coming out all the way to my place. But oddly shy. Like open in some ways, so reserved in others. We went to the cinema several, and window-shopped at Tianhe malls.

One day we had a fight when I went to her area in Taojin. I got bad directions and got lost and was late. No dinner even, only harsh words. It simply wasn’t meant to be long-term.

Most of all, there was Valerie, my then friend-with-benefit of choice. An office worker in glasses with a casual style. She was from Yunnan. She lived in deep Panyu, far away from downtown, and she was happy to visit me. We first met at a market in Shiqiao, the busiest area of the district and a world away from the city center.

I took her to dinner, went to parks, we enjoyed many weekends together lounging about my area. She liked me, she really liked me. Always cool, always happy, always there for me. Such an awesome person.

And no drama. I thank her for this. Today, as I think back and compare, I could not be more grateful for her positivity and good times.

I hope she thinks well of me now. I don’t even know why we didn’t become boyfriend and girlfriend. Didn’t seem in the cards, didn’t seem we had that kind of thing going. She wasn’t really who I pictured myself with, to be honest. We never had any serious conversations. She never pressured me to take things further. She was perpetually chill. Who knows, perhaps something was going on in her personal life at the time.

Still, I wonder…

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Dating in China – My Guangzhou Year

Zhujiang_new_townGZ

In early 2011 I broke up with Zoey and I was depressed and I thought I should start Dating in China yet again. It didn’t go well. A full year with one person, despite the trying and failing at improprieties, and I was a tad out of practice.

A very significant chapter of my life had ended, and I knew it would take a lot of work to reach the next chapter of my life. I realized I needed a new start.

What did I really have in Shenzhen? Frankly, a bunch of shallow friendships and little job security. I liked my apartment and my general setup but I wasn’t tied down. If I wasn’t tied down, shouldn’t I take advantage and go somewhere new?

Many expats simply live out of their suitcases, but not me. The heaviest things I own are my books. I sell them, I give them away, but I always get new ones and I’m left with a big stack. That and my clothes and various knickknacks and toys, and it’s not as easy for to move to, say, Shanghai or Seoul or Bangkok as it is for that other kind of expat.

I made the decision to move to Guangzhou — also known as Canton — that third major city of China (a distant third, but third nonetheless). Why did I choose GZ? Several reasons. I liked the city. I planned to do more research of Guangdong Province for my writing projects. I even wanted to study Cantonese. Most of all, I wanted to get a van to pack up all my stuff and move somewhere only a few hours away because it’s easier.

I went there on a research trip and looked around and found a stable thing going, and I committed. Next there was the hassle of putting all my things in boxes, had a going-away bar-hopping party night with friends at the local lesbian bar, and 500 yuan later I moved. My Guangzhou year had begun.

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Zoey – the beginning


Birthday video 2010, my life circa that era

Dating in China, Hooking Up in China, when does it become Having a Stable Girlfriend in China?

After much patience, it became.

I think I have a pretty nice story of how I met Zoey, as these things go. An average workday, I took an early-morning bus, sat next to her, and started reading my paperback of The Great Gatsby. Not my favorite novel, though I enjoyed the recent film, it was only a paperback I picked up because you can get classic novels in English cheap at local bookstores. It even had the Chinese name, 了不起的盖茨比. She saw it, and started asking me about the book. Cool! I’ll keep in touch with this chick. We discussed the Chinese title and how 了 throws me off because it can pronounced either ‘le’ or ‘liǎo’

We exchanged phone numbers. Later she told me that I looked so young, and she thought I was a college student. I don’t know if she took me seriously as a partner yet. In any case, she was more than willing to correspond with me and it was a start.

I wish I could say I approached her and it was love at first sight or something. I have a vague memory of trying to sit next to a good-looking girl on the bus – because don’t we all do that at times, just a harmless split-second preference – but I don’t usually try talking to every pretty girl I see, at least not without psyching myself up first. Besides, on cold approaches I wouldn’t even know if she speaks English or not. So, it’s a bit passive that she talked to me first, but I think I did well in talking to her back.

I didn’t know at the time that this girl would become one of the main women of my life, one of my deepest relationships.  I didn’t know that I would stay with her all year and beyond.

Zoey was great. Very outgoing, very positive, not the shy type at all. Cantonese. Slim body type. Big smile. She changed her hair often. She had permed black hair when I first met her, then dyed it auburn, then straightened it, then cut it short and curled it. She was fashionable, not in the pricey wannabe way but in humble off-brand Chinese expressive sort, my kind of style.

She wasn’t very worldly. I know that she has since traveled abroad (I think she’s already emigrated, more on that later), but at this period she was fresh out of college working a trite office job and hadn’t been to Hong Kong yet. She was decent at English and we could communicate, but she wasn’t the super-fluent type. When I’d be distant and we would fight, she’d revert to Mandarin or Cantonese or even Hakka if she was really mad. We watched many movies together and I introduced her to a lot of my native pop culture. She was very open to learning more. She was a sweetheart, a perfect companion, exactly who I needed then and I didn’t even know it.

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‘Hooking Up in China’ – Playing the field…

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A sketch of yours truly, with Beijinger artist

Dating in China might often be more accurately called Hooking Up in China, and in late 2009/early 2010 that was the kind of thing I was looking for. With varying degrees of success, mostly that is not succeeding, I had a myriad of experiences and lived and learned and notches on the bedpost and so on.

At that stage, I was a bit frustrated. My brief romance was lovely but unfulfilling in one certain way. Meanwhile, all those other expat guys constantly bragged about getting laid. I shouldn’t complain, but I wondered why I wasn’t quite keeping up. Eh, perhaps those guys were exaggerating as us bros tend to do. Really, I rarely saw the guys with a new girl every week, nothing like that. Much would be said in passing, well after the fact. Or maybe they knew better than to take girls out in public? Who knows the truth, the truth is a quantum superposition with multiple perspectives. Men round up and women round down and all realities exist simultaneously.

I’m diverging. Whatever, still I yearned. I asked out girls. Went on abortive dates. The proverbial gold-diggers (who can’t get much out of me, I’m sure not their kind of guy). Bad Christmas parties. Friend-zoned. My schedule sure got complicated. Slowly but surely, I got slightly better at the picking up chicks thing.

And so I began my evolution/devolution into the asshole I am today, or so I’ve been accused.

Here are a few of my so-called successes. Annie. Sky. Lulu. Even friendly Hailey. With so many girls in this post, please let me reiterate that these are fake names…

 

Annie

Annie was a platonic friend, a short Chinese party girl who danced all night with the expats. Continue reading