I want to apologize to all my fans for not posting something in here yesterday! (Actually the few of you who are still reading my entries, as Mike* seems to think I've gotten a bit boring lately!). Well anyways, I woke up relatively late yesterday and had to rush to get to school. And in spite of the fact that I have free time in between classes, I don't want to blog at work. First of all, because I should be prepping for my classes during that time and second of all because I find my work colleagues fascinating and will inevitably be writing about them in here! (So it's best they ignore the existence of this blog!).
Well anyway, last night I attended my very first Chinese Wedding ceremony! Well actually, it was only a wedding party. We couldn't attend actual wedding since we were at work! :-( So after work, Danielle*, Colin*, Beverly*, Dylan*, Lucy*, Andy*, several other colleagues of mine and I piled into cabs and headed towards the dinner party. I shared a cab with Danielle (a bubbly South African native in her late 20s), Lucy (a local English teacher), Emily (an American with Chinese origins) and Emily's Chinese husband, Frank.
Barbara* (the bride) met us a half hour later in front of the reception hall. She was wearing a cute pink dress with matching pink pumps. She led us upstairs to a private room where two large circular tables had been laid out. I sat at the first table with Emily, Frank, Dylan (an American colleague in his 40s), Beverly (an American colleague in her mid twenties) and Colin (an English bloke in his late twenties). Lucy and Danielle sat at the other table with Charlene, the center director, Ron (an American colleague) and most of the Chinese staff from my school.
The food started to arrive shortly after we did. In restaurants in China, people do not order individual portions. Whatever guests order is placed at the center of a round table on a revolving tray for all to share. Guests sample everyone's food and eat out of small hors-d'oeuvre sized plates! The lazy Susan could barely accommodate all the plates! I devoured plates of salad, fish, crab legs, and pork ribs. I was so tired from a long day of observing other teachers and enduring children's loud play, that I could hardly muster socializing with my table mates. But it seemed most guests at my table were in a similar state! Their conversations were sparse and quiet.
At the next table, it was a whole other story. The atmosphere was raucous and festive! Charlene was challenging the bride and groom to various games, such as writing the word "LOVE" with their two bodies and Danielle was giggling loudly. The more I observed the other table, the more it appeared to me that Danielle was trying to get the attention of our table and more precisely of Colin, who was sitting his back to her, next to cute Beverly. I watched in utter fascination these three characters. (Mind you, I didn't stare at them the whole evening! I got information from Dylan about the cost and location of his Chinese classes, I tested my very limited Chinese on Frank and Emily and got up to take pictures of all the guests.) Still, as an anthropologist studying a foreign culture or as a psychologist conducting a case study, I observed them!
Eventually, Danielle realized that she was failing to catch Colin's attention and decided to migrate to our table. She approached my Chinese neighbor and his wife. "Thomas, you have such a beautiful wife", she said, beaming at the woman. (I don't know why people say these types of things. How can that start a conversation?) But Danielle kept right on, asking to take pictures with Thomas and his wife, the whole time laughing and smiling. Colin tried not to watch them. I could tell he was embarrassed by Danielle. Beverly had moved seats earlier to speak to Emily and seemed unperturbed by Danielle's behavior.
In the end, Danielle did turn to speak to Colin. I forget exactly what they said to each other (since I was mostly paying attention to their nonverbal behavior). But Colin shot her down (rather meanly and gratuitously) and Danielle was left there standing, trying to save face by laughing off the rebuke.
- All names have been changed to preserve the protagonists' anonymity!