Saturday, September 22, 2007

A Wild Friday Night

Last night, the entire English department went out to dinner in style, financed by prize money won for being "the best department in the school" last term. So, Scott and I hopped on the teachers' bus and rode to the restaurant with everybody after the last class of the day. Friday was the start of a four and a half day holiday for the Mid-Autumn Festival, so all the teachers were in a party mood from the beginning. The festive atmosphere heightened as the twenty of us rapidly consumed about ten bottles of Chinese red wine mixed with Sprite. The food was delicious, but most of the male teachers were too busy running from table to table shouting GAN BEI! (BOTTOMS UP!) at each other to take much notice of the array of delicacies coming from the kitchen.

After about twenty minutes of drinking the semi-weak wine, at least a half- dozen male teachers and Helen were completely GONE. Helen was probably the funniest, just because her face turned "as red as the wine" (to quote Angel, who was sitting next to me) and she was overcome with non-stop giggling for most of the dinner. Madison freely admitted, "I am very drunk. I should drink tea." As for the other drunkards, they put on a show for the rest of us by dashing around the room trying to pick each other up and pretending to propose to the older female teachers. It was a very entertaining evening and there will be pictures soon.

Later, the party moved to an upscale karaoke joint. Scott and I got to ride there in a real car with the headmaster, but the "common" teachers had to take regular cabs. Of course, we were cajoled into picking out English songs; one came up in the rotation every twenty minutes or so and we had to sing. Grrr. Let's just say I have never thought of myself as a singer, especially not in front of twenty Chinese teachers urging me to get up on the stage. Which we did- for Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You." Luckily Madison knew that one and screamed into the microphone so I didn't have to do much work. Other songs we sang include "Eidelweiss" and "Hotel California." So, let me just recap this for you. I sang the above songs at a karaoke bar with the Chinese teachers from the English department. What have I become???? Some bizarre creature who has nothing to do with my American self (who would die before she would sing karaoke) apparently.

Fortunately, the other teachers soon discovered that Scott and I did not want to sing so they stopped the torture and started the Chinese songs. Karaoke is a strange obsession in China; even elderly men are not the least bit self-conscious about belting out a love ballad in the bar. Our headmaster did three or four songs alone: so did Madison, David, and all the other teachers. The young P.E. teacher jumped around on the stage most of the night and everybody applauded wildly after each song. A potentially awkward situation came when a guy who'd had too much wine at the restaurant threw up on the floor. However, nobody batted an eye; the attendant came in to clean it up while David and the headmaster continued tenderly singing a romantic duet.

After three and a half hours of karaoke, Scott and I were tired, so we accepted a ride home from David and that was my Friday night. Certainly unlike any I've had before... but that makes sense, because it took place in a southern Chinese city called Zhanjiang

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