June 9th, 2002


Mandarin May Save Your Sex Life.

For the first time this trip, I finally got to sleep in. Or at least I tried to. After almost a week in China, my bio-clock is still in denial. I was wide awake by nine. But I would not be cheated, I smashed my bio-clock with a hammer and forced myself to sleep another two hours. Of course the result was I woke up even groggier and puffier than before.

For dinner, we hit this newly built place that was Shanghai's version of Universal Citywalk or Third Street Promenade. A pedestrian district for the city's burgeoning yuppy population, they renovated a block of old Colonial buildings and slick-ifyed the hell outta them by adding uber-chic restaurants and bars.

I didn't think a city like Shanghai really needed a pedestrian district, but I guess every once in a while the pedestrians want a place where they can walk around without almost getting run over by taxis, mopeds and bikes. Seriously, when you cross a street in China, you don't just look both ways - you look in EVERY single possible direction. Motorized vehicles just about fly at you from all angles, but the trick is to keep walking at a constant pace and force everyone and everything to swerve around you. My observation is that all this street chaos flows at a certain rhythm, and if you disrupt that rhythm by walking too fast or slow, or stopping suddenly, that's when your non-rhythm-having ass is in trouble.

After dinner, we headed over to the opening night party at Guan Di, Dave's new club. When we arrived, we were assaulted by bright lights and strutting models. They were doing a runway show right in front of the club, modeling the hottest FOB fashions. T, who's been to a ton of these parties in Asia, informed me that almost all of them feel compelled to have a runway show. It sounded a bit strange to me, but as long as they also felt compelled to have open bar, I just kicked back and enjoyed the show.

The crowd was pretty interesting and evidently partially famous. The place was crawling with paparazzi and even peppy entertainment reporters saying peppy things in front of cameras. Dave had actresses and singers fly in from Hong Kong, Beijing, and Taiwan, but the problem was I had no idea who the celebrities were. I'm assuming they weren't hugely famous because otherwise the party would be besieged by screaming schoolgirls. So my guess is that the partyers I was rubbing elbows with weren't the J Lo's and Backstreet Boys of China, but more like the Chinese versions of O-Town and that crazy Mormon chick from "Real World."

One thing I did notice was that there were a lot of tall-ass people at this club. And butt-ass thin. They make toothpicks look chubby. The average Chinese girl is already skinny to begin with, but she probably gets a complex when she sees these pretty-faced skeletons on TV and in magazines. These models probably get most of their daily nutrients from sunlight, because I doubt they actually eat food.

The good thing about having lots of models around was that the club got crazy crowded, so it was good to have people who didn't take up a lot of horizontal space.

Toward the end of the party, we got SMSed by one of our Shanghai acquaintances, Greg, who was at the other end of the club. SMS is what mobile instant messaging is called in Asia, and it's surpassed actual talking as the most popular form of communication. Greg needed us to occupy a former fuck buddy, who'd turned to stalking him, and her friends while he made his escape to meet up with some other girls at another club.

That's the thing about a lot of the guys I've met in Asia. They rarely have just one girlfriend, or even wife for that matter. A lot of this has to do with the fact that they're wealthy by Asian standards and young Asian-Americans are still considered to be somewhat trendy in these parts. So you'll see a lot of men who were once quiet, unassuming Ivy League nerds move to Asia and turn into full-blown studs, with hot women throwing themselves at them as if they were rockstars.

So for all you horny, virginal college boys out there, brush up on your Mandarin.