Kendra Wiseman in Beijing

Death of a cynic

I'm happy. And it makes me feel pathetic on a very fundamental level. I'm a cynic, okay? I don't know what emotional or accessorized state you base your self-image on, but until now, it's been important that when the proles look at me, the ancient instincts coded into their DNA during the Ogle-ithic period vibrate with the subliminal knowledge that I find everything twice as annoying as they do. I trained myself to sleep with one eyebrow in the raised and locked position in case anyone felt compelled to talk to my attractively drooling self. Seriously, if you haven't tried the Sneer-Loom ultra combo shoot-down, you haven't even begun to maximize your scoff potential. Kendra's Gaming Tip of the Day: On your Emotendo controller, press left, left, up, down, A, and "FINISH HIM!!!" flashes across the air in huge red letters.

Using three or more exclamation points indicates mental instability, studies say.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was covering up a deep layer of insecurity, or an inability to interact with people who dance with glow sticks, by knitting a steel-yarned sweater of self-inflicted Social Outcastery around my gooey fruit center. Get yourself a cookie. But now I find this comforting, aloofier-than-thou cocoon unraveling on me. All the way unraveled, even; I tried my hate-you face on for size the other day, and I just couldn't do it. It didn't reach the eyes. Against all norms and all odds, I'm in love.

I mean, come on. Love is the universal rallying point of everyone with a stick hovering within a five-mile radius of their ass. Eye-rollers have been given a veritable carte blanche to pass out PDA-specific disgust like Wolverine passes out Awesome. My favorite Valentine's Day memory to date involves zombie movies and a trip to the Holocaust museum. You say bitter, I say better, because in China, the girlies learn one valuable lesson: kick 'em out at 5:00 a.m. or buy yourself a vibrator.

When it comes to international romance, and discounting the unshaved women factor, Beijing is not exactly Paris. Nowhere in this city do cherry blossoms flutter down to petal ancient temple walkways. Oh, and it turns out geishas and samurais are Japanese. Beijing is such a transitory place that the good boys are always leaving in two months, while the bad ones will be here for so long that you're basically guaranteed a good ten years of being forced to awkwardly hug them in bars. Warning: Communist countries can't make chocolate. Run, run, run away.

Now, see here, according to official-looking statistics that I think I might have read somewhere, there are around one billion Chinese and 100,000 foreigners in China. We know that there are slightly more Chinese men than women, thanks to all the little haystacks of girl babies abandoned in cornfields, and we'll just take liberties here and cut the foreign population into equal halves, so we're looking at around 550 million Chinese men and 50,000 foreign guys available for point-by-point dissection. My unquestionably accurate breakdown continues:

  • Half of them are married: 225 million to 25,000

  • At least half of those left think Franz Ferdinand is listenable: 112.5 million to 12,500

  • Way more than three-fourths of those live in cities other than Beijing: 28.1 million to 3125

  • A third of the foreigners are nonsmokers and wake up with obnoxiously fresh breath: 1031

  • 99 percent of the Chinese guys' mothers will hate me: 281,000

  • Venereal disease is a fact of life: 238,850 to 876

  • Children both under and over 18 are out: zero to 470

  • The English are afraid of cunnilingus: 370

  • Brazilians have better taste in textiles than I do: 270

  • Nordic guys are too big to slap around: 170

  • I'm guessing there are 170 un-herped, 20- to 30-something men in Beijing who are ambivalent about marriage and have radtastic moms. But 169 of them don't speak English or Chinese. Which brings us down to 1. One. Uno. Yi ge .

I found him. He's as bad at math as I am. My cynicism looks like Beirut.

The last eight months of public kissy kissy have officially disenfranchised me from the ranks of the sarcastic. The only people I can still sneer at convincingly are the old guys who've substituted actual erections with purchasing power. No one blames the panty-loads of wasp-waisted Chinese girls that fling themselves at inflated Western executives whose 17 divorces are made invisible by favorable exchange rates. That's not a geographically specific epidemic. I, too, would lend out my vagina for a passport from a country with good plumbing. Hell, I'm easy, I'll go down for a cinnamon roll, but my melt-your-heart dream dates don't involve fluttering my eyelashes after a recital of golf scores over the past three decades. I've done it. I've been there. You spend the whole night suppressing the urge to scream, "I wasn't born yet!"

I was perfectly satisfied sitting around in sweatpants watching Mandarin soaps while picking pomegranate seeds into a bowl. But when you've got a guy who stares drunkenly into his microwaved couscous and says, "I'm eating tiny pasta. Tiny, tiny pasta," there's no going back. Kyle Page Schaefer, if you ever want couscous when the store's closed, I'll grate up noodles for you. For the rest of your life.


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