Friday, June 11, 2004

House Warm(ing) Party?

H and I managed to snag an invite to a house warming party last night. Some of our class mates who are taking Chinese language lessons were invited by a fellow class mate who is French. One point against him already for being French. Another point against him because the map he gave us was atrocious. He had actually labeled one landmark as "red light." Care to guess how many red lights, red lighted signs, red street crossing signs, etc. there are in Beijing? Very helpful.

But somehow we found our way. I was quite impressed by the already budding language skills of our friends. So we arrive at the apartment, which had security as tight as Fort Knox and the giant adult play-ground equipment in the courtyard that we are so fond of. Chinese people love to exercise, and they have all this stuff that looks like playground equipment because it is brightly colored but it is really like stone-age eliptical trainers and weight machines. And it is always outdoors.

Anyway, back to the party. Now those of you who know me, know I like to throw parties and I pride myself on making my house look good for these affairs. I like to have plenty of good food, party favors, extra toothbrushes for overnight guests, etc. I might even get a bit anal about these preparations, like the fact that I scrubbed all the floors in my house on my hands and knees before the last party I threw. You know just in case someone wanted to sit, eat, sleep on the hardwood floors. So perhaps my expectations were leaning a little too much to the Martha side and not enough to the Chinese/French Charlie side. His name was Charlie after all. Acutally it was "William" in French but they called him Charlie. Whatever.

Anyway, this apartment was basically a hovel and the only warm(ing) thing in sight was the number of smelly French and Chinese people crammed into quite possibly the only un-airconditioned apartment in Beijing. Rumor has it that you have to order deodorant on the black market here. They sell it in France, but no one seems to use it. We made a graceful early exit leaving our braver companions behind trying to hook up with the women. Men! Same everywhere!

When we finally got home I turned to H and told her that if I ever move into such a dive she is not to allow me to throw a housewarming party. Not even party favors could have saved this affair. And the fact they didn't appear to have their own bathroom did not help either. Oh and lets not forget the neighbor who kept sticking her head out with half a watermelon in her hands and staring at me while I was in the doorway. Martha is probably spinning in her jail cell bunk bed as I write.