One of the scariest incidents that has so far occurred to me in China happened in school. Twice weekly I have a class simply referred to as ‘Sofa Chat’. Students show up and are meant to talk about a pre-determined topic such as TV or movies. Often, we just end up talking about whatever it is the students would like to talk about, giving the class a free form sort of feel. The class is for many reasons torturous, mostly due to the fact that the students have nothing to say and only really ever come to see the dancing foreign monkey (in other words, me) speak. I’ve long since implemented a “I won’t answer personal questions” rule, keeping most of my sofa chats empty. But one day a student comes by. She is typical of the Tuesday afternoons when I have these sofa chats; a bored housewife with nothing going on for her whatsoever who due to poor planning in life has become some guys trophy wife.
I think I at some point had sympathy for them. Now…
But she came to my sofa chat that day on she decided to bring her son with her. The son was at best five years old and had no interest in being there, or in sitting still throughout. He was constantly trying to climb on top of his mother, or pulling on her sleeve, or whining and complaining and generally being a massive brat. I mention this to you so that you know what was on offer.
More importantly was the mother. She showed up with something of a manic look on her eyes, and despite my best efforts to steer the conversation away from the subject started talking about just how god damn miserable she was. She was in a loveless marriage of course, and she told me about how in China men are all romance and commitment before they get married, only to not give the first fuck about their families afterwards. They become increasingly focused on their career at the neglect of their family.
I mentioned that I was sorry to hear this. I figured from my lack of meaningful response, she would gather that I had not a damn thing else to contribute.
But she didn’t get it. She insisted for much longer than I was comfortable listening for that she was lonely and mistreated and unhappy and I simply found myself in that awkward position of having absolutely not a damn thing to say.
I don’t have either the confidence of the pretensions to assume that she wanted anything from me short of venting. But the possibility was there, and perhaps cultural differences would have made it all more explicit. That’s not the point. Despite hating feelings and intuition, I felt that she was reaching out to me or for that matter to anyone, for something. Alas, I had nothing for her.
Me 1 – China 0.
That seems to be a freighting consistency here. Few people seem to be happy, and everyone I know seems to be betting against the lifers, those idiots who have chosen to stay.
My first boss here was one of those lifers. Around Christmas time my first year here he was bellyaching about the gift he had to buy his wife. “She wants the new iPhone” he complained. “I can’t afford the new iPhone for myself” he said, lifting up his then two years old Xiaomi. He complained about this over and over again for the weeks leading up to Christmas. I finally asked him what he asked her for Christmas. “Nothing” he said.
“Does your wife not work?”
“Of course not!”
“Is she Christian?”
“Of course not!”
I was naive then. Now I know that Christmas in China is the time of the year when you buy your useless pet wife gifts. It doesn’t matter that she has no relation to this holiday whatsoever and that if she had married a Chinese person she would be getting slapped around for christmas. Its the tax you pay for her existing, and continuing to sleep with you. I guess I am just worried about what will happen when he gets bored of that, or god forbid, she loses her looks before he does. Actually, scratch that, I do know what will happen. A former colleague of mine has now begun cheating on his Chinese wife. I guess I didn’t work out between them. The person he is cheating on said wife with is about the ugliest looking foreigner I know here.
In both of these cases guys’ wives were their students first, something that I have pretty large ethical problems with. I’m not one to impose my morality on others, but I have played this scenario out, gambled and won. There was a student who I found attractive, but when I met her she was the lowest level possible. I considered trying to pursue her, but I have something against acting on lust alone. I decided against it at the time, and all the while she worked hard and improved her English. About a year later she speaks well enough for us to have a conversation and it turns out she is exactly the kind of vapid bitch I can’t god damn stand.
Me 2 – China 0. Yet another colleague started dating one of their students, also when she could barely string to words together in English. I guess the sex must be excellent.
I also have a Chinese colleague. We are pretty much the same age (within 2 weeks of each other) despite being in completly different places in our lives. We are so fundamentally different that I often use her as an example to distinguish the difference between a middle aged person and a young adult. She, being married and expecting her second child, having a home and a mortgage and responsibilities, is clearly middle aged. On the other hand, my unstructured and confused which in theory could include such activities as dating (if I didn’t live in a cesspool) would be that of a young adult. But let’s focus on this middle-aged colleague. She is married, but not in any way that seems to matter. As far as I can discern, she got married only out of a sense of ‘it is something that you must do!’ and not for any desire to. She barely mentions her husband, and those few times he has come around you can tell that their relationship is about as warm as a polar bears asshole. I have never seen them show any kind of affection what-so-ever. He has come int a few times to either drop off her lunch, or do some kind of heavy lifting that she does not want to do, and on those occasions my colleague barely acknowledged his existence. But in conversations with my colleague she has mentioned to me that since having her fist child, she has not been in her marital bed. This isn’t a euphemism but the euphemism is implied. A few months ago my coworker confessed to me that she is still sharing a bed with her daughter, despite her daughter being seven years old. Her daughter needs her there to sleep, she confessed, and she needs to be there for her daughter.
That was my reaction too.
Which means that for the seven year after she has had her child and the 8 months leading to the process, this man has gotten either none-of-that, or very little. My coworker is now pregnant again, so he must have gotten something. They may stop at two children, and so 2024 my coworker’s husband may get some action again. Best of luck to him
Me 3 – China 0
TL;DR. I’m celibate and still in a better relationship than my colleagues who married Chinese.