Thursday, July 15, 2010

Margaritas and The Starry, Starry Night

Two weeks ago, with fun-loving Katie in town, a group of us went out for happy-hour margaritas at Cantina Agave, the nearest approximation to true Mexican food I've had in Shanghai.

A couple pitchers in, Chef Mike called me over to help him with some translation. A group of Chinese guys with beautiful Harley-Davidson motorcycles had rolled up. When he was a teen, Chef Mike used to pinstripe cars and what not (his uncle is one of the top guys in the U.S. who does this kind of thing, he says). Three Harleys: Chef Mike sees a potential business deal..

Eager to help the Chef, I go over and chat them up. Talking up my roommate's skills, suggesting we get dinner sometime to discuss, yadda yadda.

Despite the fact I have key lock, my phone manages to accidentally call one of the motorcycle guys later that night, unbeknownst to me. He calls me back twice, I apologize. End of story.

The next day motorcycle guy texts me in Chinese to ask if I want to have dinner. I say no, I'm too busy (in Chinese).

Chef Mike and I piece together the night, and we both draw the conclusion this motorcycle guy probably thinks I want to be more than just pengyou

Today he texts me again about dinner. I say I have a work thing (true). He texts back, tomorrow? I say my friend is coming to town (actually it's my cousin, but cousin is a very complicated word in Chinese depending on what uncle/aunt maternal/paternal relationship there is - so I just call her my friend). He texts me back what I believe says, "Tell me when you have free time."

As a side note: Sans margaritas, Chef Mike isn't really that interested in pin-striping anymore. He's too busy cooking food. However, I'm sort of interested in doing a story on motorcycle culture in China. So I'd like to establish some professional decorum.

But I'm at work. And I'm busy. So I don't double-check my Mandarin dictionary. I write back, what I believe to say, 'I'll have more time at the beginning of next month."

He writes back, in English, "Great! I love the starry night!"


I blow it off. I have uploading to do.

Tonight I went out to dinner with friend-Mike (not to be confused with the Chef). Friend-Mike's Chinese is well beyond mine, as he's about to go back to Berkley for his Phd in languages...

I explain the story to Friend-Mike and tell him to give my phone a gander.

Turns out I guessed right about all the texts I I tell Mike to look at my responses.

Turns out I didn't say, "I'll have more time next month." I said, "after the bright moon is better."

Which kind of makes me sound like a psycho or a werewolf. 

Needless to say, Friend-Mike doubled over in laughter and asked if my text could be his new Facebook status.

Suffice it to say, my written Chinese isn't quite there.

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