(Apparently) Valentine's Day in a strange land.
Valentine’s Day has a habit of sneaking up on you, before having exactly no impact whatsoever. This most delightful of rituals - where lovers gather to line the fat purses of florists, growers and Hallmark shareholders - tends to wash over the single man like so much vomit the morning after too many ‘Valentini’s’ (seen at a bar tonight). This isn’t a bitter story: I like romance as much as the next person, but I find a private moment - a look, a wink, a whisper - far more intoxicating than overt displays of affection. That’s just me.
And this is merely a recollection of my first Valentine’s Day in China.
(Sidebar: China actually has its own Valentine’s Day, held later in the year. But if there’s one thing Chinese people love, it’s buying overpriced crap they don’t need. Two a year is barely enough…you could do it monthly to make a real buck).
I had a good day. A big pitch was successfully undertaken, and a long ignored task was finally completed, in a way that made me feel pretty bloody good. Feeling celebratory, I rang a few mates to see who was up for a drink, but was surprised to be turned away: everyone was going out to dinner. In pairs. With their girls/boys/wives/hubbies. On a Tuesday. In mid-February…the penny dropped.
Well, fuck that, i thought. I’ll enjoy this night as well.
I decided that the classic ‘dinner and a movie’ routine was the way to spend the evening, and I headed out to take myself out. A quick check at the local cinema revealed Mission Impossible 4 playing in an hour: perfect, time for dinner first. A steak and a beer later, I returned to the cinema (very satisfied with my delicious meal), only to discover everyone in Northern Asia at the cinema, and all sessions of everything sold out. Right, strike one.
Actually, strike one occurred while sitting at the bar: the man next to me (a downright disgusting white male in his early 50’s, who chewed with his mouth open EXECUTABLE OFFENSE) excitedly greeted his two ‘girls’ - clearly prostitutes, unlucky enough to be rostered on to work this fat pig (Ed. Note: do prozzie’s work on a roster??).
The strike occurred at the exact moment when he looked at me, and excitedly told said he ‘was getting two for one, because it’s Valentine’s Day!’. Good for you, sunshine. Your a frequent flyer at a Beijing brothel: that’s the tippy top of life right there. Zenith reached. Rock’n’roll.
So strike two was the movie selling out. Strike three was when I went to get a cupcake at a favourite haunt only to watch as they sold out because the guy in front of my bought the LAST 12 CUPCAKES. Really?? You need 12 cupcakes to show your love? When I just want one? You selfish dickhole.
My hands empty, my stomach lacking delicious cake, I walked out of the shop. I had no more choices. I was bereft of options. There was only one more thing to do.
I purchased an expensive bottle of spiced rum, and headed home with a smile on my face.