SLM

We hate all the Chinese women, cuz they’re sleazy ho’s who will put out to even an ugly guy if he’s white, and make the men think they’re better than they actually are.

A bit later on, just for emphasis: “I hate Chinese women who are sleazy.  And I hate American men who think they’re the shit.  The end.

American women* in Beijing.  If you think we are a bunch of haters, just because of the above statements that happened to pop up on my Skype window when I put the question out there, you are totally correct.

*Technically speaking, I should include other foreign women to be fair.  However, in truth, European women are not in the same plight as American women, in my humble and biased opinion.  European women find tons of attractive men no matter where they go, because they’re hot and tall and blonde and have sexy accents that are appealing in every corner of the earth (round and cornerless as it may be).  In fact, the existence of European women only makes things worse for all other women, with the narrow exception of maybe Korean women, who are also all hot as hell and insist on being a big problem for all other women on earth.  By a big problem, I mean stiff superficial competition.  The worst kind of competition that you just can’t reason against.  So all you can do is just sit on the sidelines and fume with jealousy and hatred.  More jealousy than hatred, in my case.  Paint me green and call me Envy.

As far as I’m aware, nobody ever talks about the plight of American women in Beijing.  This is mostly because nobody really cares, except American women.  Everyone else is too busy getting all railed up about foreign men exploiting innocent Chinese girls and stealing/tainting them from the Chinese men.  Actually, not even most American women in Beijing care about this.  This is because American women in Beijing can be generally and discriminatorily separated into three categories:

1.  The SOs:  The significant others of expat package recipients.  I don’t know many of these women, because we don’t live/eat/work out in the same places.  I live next to the train tracks and have memorized the morning and evening train schedules by the noise through my window as I wake up and pass out everyday.  These women live in places that have gyms and pools and apartments with not only a washer but also a dryer, and sometimes even an oven.  Dryers and ovens, you guys, this is how the upper classes of Beijing distinguish themselves from the rest of us lowly creatures.  They have courtyards filled with nannies and strollers.  They live in places so far away from the subway station that it would take me a good 30-40 minutes of walking to even reach them, but they don’t mind because they never take the subway (Beijing has a subway? Isn’t it dangerous?).  What I eat for lunch down the street from my building only cost half of the cab fare that it costs them to get to their lunch destination.  Their living room air purifier costs more than my entire month of rent.  It suffices to say that they don’t have the same problems as me.  In fact, I can’t see how they have any problems, but people tell me I only think this way due to my lack of empathy.  Mo money mo problems, Biggie Smalls once rapped, but I still think that’s totally BS.  Prove me wrong by giving me all your money, then.

2. The college girls here to learn Chinese for 1 year:  College girls like to party everywhere, except here in Beijing, it’s college girls on semi-permanent vacation mode.  Think Spring Break in Cancun (yes, like on MTV circa 1996), except the party goes on year-round, the locals peddle iPhone covers with rhinestones plastered all over them with toxic glue instead of shell necklaces, and you can’t swim in the ocean unless you want to travel 4-5 hours on a train and then freeze to death while growing a third arm.  College girls in semi-permanent vacation mode don’t ponder questions like:

  • Is this guy’s name really Bob/Tom/Mike/Dan?
  • If I get drunk(er) and fall down the stairs, is this guy the type of person who will help me up and go find my other shoe, or will he just stand there and laugh at me while taking a video of the whole embarrassing incident and post it on Weixin?
  • Does this guy currently/at any time/will ever have a job?
  • Does this guy already have a girlfriend?
  • Does this guy already have a wife?
  • Did this guy already sleep with all my friends?
  • Did this guy just sleep with all my friends earlier this week?
  • Will this guy call/text/whatsapp/weixin me ever again, except for right now from the other end of the bar asking me if I want to get out of here?

Nope.  College girls mostly ponder the following 2 questions: 1) Is he as cute as I think he is, or is it just this 6th tequila shot kicking in? 2) Will he buy me a 7th tequila shot?

I know this because I, too, was in college once.  I don’t remember most of it, it was so long ago, but the big framed sheet of paper on my mom’s living room wall says so.  Tequila shots may lead to many mistakes, but apparently it will not prevent you from graduating from a popular private liberal arts college.

3. SLM, short for Suckers Like Me.  Why are we here?  Nobody knows, not even ourselves really.  What we say, of course, across dinner banquet tables is that we came wading across the big blue Pacific Ocean to expand our careers, to explore new markets, to broaden our minds while satisfying our thirst for adventure and the road less traveled.  I know you have heard this before, because I probably said this to you last week while guzzling a beer somewhere in a Sanlitun bar.  The gaping holes in this explanation should be immediately apparent to anybody who has actually lived in Beijing.  You mean to say that, we, as foreign women, have come to better position ourselves in a society that is extremely sexist, unapologetically nationalist, where minds could not be more narrowly entrenched, the markets have been exploited by people far more adventurous and farsighted than ourselves for a good 30-40 years, and the road is now only less traveled by those who came, saw, and thought better of it?  Yes, sir.

No one really cares what our lives are like, because our lives are boring.  You don’t have to say it, I’ll say it myself.  About 48 hours after arrival, wide-eyed-ness wears off and our lives become preoccupied with things such as: Finding non-toxic shampoo/toothpaste/anything; figuring out how to get hot water in the shower to run; figuring out how to get a cell phone; figuring out how to pay our cell phone bill; pondering why cabs don’t stop even though the red light is on; pondering what to do when the cab driver doesn’t know how to get to where we live/work/anywhere; pondering what will happen to us in a medical emergency (perish after extended unwitnessed agony, in case you were wondering also); and finding pants will go up higher than my knee.  Sometimes concerned friends call me up and ask me what I have been doing all day – I just copy and paste this paragraph, which is now saved as a Note in my iPhone for convenience of access.

Despite such busy and meaningful lives, we, too, are human.  Every once in a while, we get a bit…restless.  So, after getting off work, sorting out most of the menial hassles of daily life, and guzzling some Costa Coffee, we come out and take a look around.  Then we immediately want to go back home and kill ourselves.  But we don’t, because we can’t get a cab.

This is where I realize that it is incredibly difficult to keep writing this blog without turning into one big living, breathing, typing, vitamin-water drinking cliche.

There is nobody in Beijing for American women to date.  Or even to play with.  Past the age of 22.

Every once in a while, I like to complain about my life to the face of a real human being, instead of the computer screen as is my usual habit.  So I dragged Mr. Gamer out for dessert.

Over ginormous fruit slushies, we each recounted our own problems:

Mr. Gamer:  It’s tricky.  Everyone lives so close together.  I have to wait until one girl goes on vacation, or a business trip or something, before I can have another girl over.

Me:  I feel your pain.  Totally.

Mr. Gamer:  What about you?

Me:  What about me?

Mr. Gamer: There are tons of guys in Beijing.  I see them everywhere.

Me:  They’re all busy scheduling Chinese girls so that they don’t accidentally double-book or overlap.

Mr. Gamer:  Why don’t you just date a Chinese guy?

Me:  Chinese guys don’t like me.

Mr. Gamer:  They’re just intimidated by your intellect.

Me:  They’re not intimidated by my intellect.  They’re intimidated because I’m like a foot taller than most of them and probably weigh 10 kilos more than them too.  They’re afraid that I might accidentally roll over in bed and crush them to death in their sleep.

I think that nicely sums things up.