Punk had its closing party last night. Everyone was shocked by the news, but then realized that none of us ever go there. Sometimes you just can’t get famous until you die.
I stopped by for 6 minutes before the foul odor of foreign men grinding up on local girls became nauseating. You’ll be excited to know that the stagnant summer heat of Beijing brings this beyond simple urban myth and into a tangible smell. Goodbye, Punk. May you be replaced with yet another confectionery shop selling 35-kuai cupcakes.
On the way home I stopped in the convenience store downstairs to grab an ice cream cone to accompany some serious Hulu watching. This is my trusted method of washing out the nasty after-taste of fake alcohol mixed with low moral character. My best friend in law school used to say all the time that I have been irrevocably inflicted with low moral character, but I think he was confusing low moral character with low standards for life. If only he can see me now.
After squeezing past a herd of chain-smoking, middle-aged, wifebeater-donning Chinese men hovering around the entrance, I grabbed a chocolate chip cone and attempted to flee. As I approached the door, I zeroed in on the narrow opening where I had squeezed in. This opening immediately became blocked by another middle-aged Chinese man, with a Chinese girl in tow who appeared to be in her early twenties. In reality, she was probably 42.
Because I was trapped in this single light-bulbed, musty, 15 square meter establishment by bodies, I started sucking on my ice cream cone and listening to their conversation. They were not at all perturbed by my presence. This is what I appreciate about the concept of personal space in China. What might lead to charges in assault and rape on the subway would only be minorly construed as common peasant etiquette in these parts of the world. I might as well have been a fruitfly to these people.
My ice cream cone made a much bigger impact, however. The girlwoman’s eyes lit up. Her acrylic sparkly heels inched toward the freezer box. Her hands reached for the lid.
Her escort, despite the deceiving nature of his belly bulge and overall jiggliness, moved faster than lightning to block the girlwoman’s access to the contents of the freezer box.
“NO ICE CREAM FOR YOU!!” He commanded in a thick Beijing accent.
It was the ice cream nazi.
Ice cream nazis are all over the place in Beijing.
They come in many, many shapes and forms. For instance, this freezer-blocking man.
They also come in the form of my well-meaning local female friends. I remember last year when I first began experiencing the wrath that is summer in Beijing. For some godforsaken reason, my ex-coworker and I decided to walk to the mall instead of cabbing it. This immediately led to self-loathing and regret. Half a block later, I was drowning in my own sweat. I saw a 7eleven out of the corner of my eye and crawled on in as quickly as I could.
After sticking my head inside the refrigerator for 20 minutes and downing 2 diet cokes, I headed for the cashier to pay for said diet cokes and a liter of water. On the way to the cashier was the ice cream freezer box. These 7eleven people are so fucking smart, don’t let their blank stares and inability to calculate simple change fool you. I opened the lid and reached for a bar of Magnum. Yes that is what it’s called and it’s damn delicious.
My ex-coworker pulled the exact move as the Chinese man in the scenario above, except with superior speed and precision.
“You will never get married!!”
She slapped my hand away and shooed me towards the cash register. She did, however, buy an ice cream bar for herself because she is local Chinese and remains the size of my little toe even though she eats a herd of cows every day, deep fried and covered in lard. I hate her. I hate her so much.
I had to later sneak into another 7eleven by myself to get my ice cream fix. I instantly felt guilty and hedonistic.
Which leads me to my final and most persistently annoying version of ice cream nazi. It comes in the form of immediately wanting to kill myself, while eating ice cream, in the presence of a bunch of people the size of my little toe.
The other day I cleaned out the contents of my closet. Half of my clothes are labeled XXXXL. The other half are labeled S. I think there is no more concise way of describing the sizing discrepancy between China and the U.S. Even with the XXXXL clothing here, the sleeves curiously and uniformly fall right below my elbows. My wrists are constantly over-exposed, which feels kind of strange.
Anyway, with all this commotion in the convenience store around the freezer box, somehow all eyes landed on me as the culprit. Why you gotta come in here and buy ice cream and start all this drama while we are just trying to stand around and expend as few calories as humanly possible while still keeping our arteries flowing, these angry Chinese eyes seemed to say to me. Without you and your ice cream cone, this poor girl could have gotten in and out with a bottle of green tea that has 8 times the amount of sugar and calories as that stupid ice cream cone. Go die.
Puffs of smoke clouds circling above my head, I squeezed out of the damn place and went upstairs. I signed onto Skype and told my friend in Shanghai about this incident, licking off the last remnants of cone crumbs from my hand.
“I haven’t had ice cream in eight years,” she said to me.
“That is stupid.” I said to her.
Ice cream in China is too good and too cheap to be wasted for the sake of a smokin’ body. Even though I don’t understand and am perpetually bitter about Haagen-Dazs prices here, I have tried my best to evolve locally. Here is a list of Chinese ice creams that I love and keep well-stocked in my freezer whenever I go to Carrefour:
1. 八喜 (Eight Happiness, or Baxy as is the official phonetic English translation) green tea ice cream bar with white chocolate shell. It’s always been a point of contention whether the white chocolate shell adds to or detracts from the green tea. My stance is that the idea of white chocolate detracting from anything ever is just plain crazy. I would eat poo if it was covered in white chocolate.
2. This green bean ice bar. People are always going on and on about red bean. You guys, take this from me: red bean is so, so inferior to green bean. Red bean is for the masses. Green bean is for rogue rebels. Don’t you want to be a rogue rebel? Yes you do.
3. This super chinese 老中街冰棒. It tastes exactly like water and sugar syrup mixed together and frozen in grubby plastic tubs in some shady back hutong. You cannot get more China than this. Except the fake version of this, which there is.
4. As mentioned above, Magnum. Aside from the fact that they are totally super tasty, you cannot but eat things named Magnum. They come in all sorts of flavors, but my favorite is cappuccino, like the Elva song. Love should be bitter AND sweet.
5. An oldie but goodie, 雪生. This is a treat for the ages. I believe that in ancient martial times, hottie actors like Takeshi Kaneshiro dressed in traditional kungfu garb ate 雪生 as a celebratory treat right after they’ve decapitated the top villain. Okay, so the photo is not of the actual ice cream, but of cute-ass pillows copying the ice cream. This is testament to how great the ice cream actually is. They don’t make pillows of just any ice cream.
6. This one is kind of an underdog, not because it isn’t awesome, but because it is so common that you can get it everywhere, and as a result I haven’t even learned what it’s called. I know the name is written on the package but my Chinese-reading faculties never bothered to kick in. I just know that any freezer box next to any old newspaper stand always has it, unless they were all sold out on account of a busload of freshly arrived peasants. But don’t let the reputation fool you, it’s crispy rice covered in milk chocolate covered in milk-flavored ice cream and finally encased in a crispy layer of dark dark chocolate. It is even more awesome than it sounds.
Someone in this cafe just called out “Hey fatty!” and I looked up. But turns out he wasn’t talking to me, thank god.