Monthly Archives: August 2004

Family Planning for Dogs?

Family Planning for Dogs?

Okay, a wrap-up of this last week. On Monday, John and I celebrated our 8-year anniversary. Can you believe it? Nearly a decade ago. In the afternoon, we went bowling at our locals’ joint Sakura. I actually beat John in the second game– scored an all-time personal high of 130. Yeah!

We had dinner at a new Italian restaurant (the first one we’ve tried in Shanghai) called Settebello. Seriously, it was the best western food we’ve had here. I guess the original Settebello is somewhere in Canada, but this one has the exact same menu. John had veal obussuco (frown), and I had duck tagliani. We reminisced and laughed about all our past ghetto apartments. It was weird too thinking of us in the pre-Remy and Martin days…. was too long ago.

On Tuesday, I had an interview for a personal assistant job for the executive director of a French PR firm. The interview went really well, until he discovered I was an American citizen (instead of Chinese citizen). That screwed me over. I swear, around here I’m always getting screwed over–either for my citizenship or my ethnicity. Fucking pain in the ass. Would have been interesting to work in PR. I mainly wanted the experience– marketing/advertising/sales skills never hurt. Actually, they’d be super helpful to boosting NGO budgets. Speaking of non-profit, I start tutoring Wang Hong, the supervisor of our local salon in September. English literacy. She’s really nervous about learning English, but I told her if she learned Chinese (and other dialects), English should be cake.

On Wednesday, I had my SABIC class. It went well. The last several lessons have focused more on class writing exercises. The students really like that format (vs. lecture). Of course, they’re still not very participatory, but oh well. They’ve been slacking off lately with homework, and at first, I was offended. But Helen told me that they just don’t have time outside of work to do homework. It’s not me, thank goodness. Nonetheless, the director Melvin asked that I administer an exam in September. Fun!

On Thursday night, I went to the Oriented happy hour at Mint. Unlike last month’s event, it was at a really nice venue off Nanjing Xi Road. John didn’t want to attend, so I went with Helen. We had a great time. Met all kinds of new people, including a French dude who is fluent in Mandarin, a Dutch lady, a Brit, some CBC’s (Canadian-born Chinese–who knew?), and some locals. Funny thing, the Dutch lady actually works part-time for Rainbow Consulting— the company that wants to hire me for the Citigroup gig. She filled me in on some scoop. 🙂

Helen and I chatted on the way to the metro. She started asking me about Remy and Martin–if they would have puppies together. I explained that animal control centers in the US spay/neuter the adopted animals. I was surprised by her reaction: she was half-horrified, half amazed. “Family planning for dogs?” Geez, when she put it that way, it did sound rather absurd. I had to revisit the idea later on… somehow hearing it in those terms, I felt negative about it too, which was strange because I had never ever questioned spay/neuter programs for animals. Fortunately, after talking it over with John, I was reminded that these measures are necessary. It’s either spay/neuter or euthanasia. Anyway, it was a funny comment from Helen.

My damn laptop’s been acting up again. It randomly shuts off. I took it back to the shop, and Mr. Zhang said all the circuitry grease (?) dried up so he put more on. Hopefully that will resolve the issue. Of course, right after I picked up my laptop and left the store, it dropped out of my bike basket and got banged up. Goddamnit. It fell on its corner so all these pieces broke off. Fortunately, the damage is only cosmetic (cross my fingers!). Fucking computer. John insists that at 3.5 years, it’s time for a new one. And this laptop has certainly had its share of problems. Still, I love it. I still think it’s blazing fast, and generally it handles everything I want. I know, my pathetic love affair with my laptop. What can you do.

John and I recently found a new DVD store. Last few nights, we’ve been watching Brad. Ocean’s Eleven and then River Runs Through It. As high-school as this sounds, he is just so damn hot. Sigh! John (and the rest of the world agrees).

Oh, John found a Taiwanese restaurant called Steak King. We ate there last night. It’s cheap and has a really large menu with western and Chinese foods. And down a few doors, we found a dessert place with the best almond tofu ever!!

There’s supposedly a pet expo in town this weekend. I think we’re gonna check it out later this afternoon. Maybe find some new toys or gizmos for the pups. Have a good weekend.

Oh! This just in: I’ve finally convinced Bubs to join the blogging world. Give him a couple days, but after that, have at it!

Landune Breast Enhancement Treatment

Landune Breast Enhancement Treatment

Workwise, August has been a bit slow. Consequently, I started sending out another batch of cover letters/resumes, responding to job postings in the popular expat magazine that’s shanghai. I guess I was sort of sending my info out half-heartedly, because I pretty much responded to anything metnioning writing, editing, or teaching. One ad said it was a health and beauty company, and they were searching for a product/marketing writer. Well, most of you probably would have intuitively stayed away, but I have no intuition. Plus, I’m fairly naive. I guess was thinking of a Gaiam or Aveda or Body Shop-type of place… It was vague and I didn’t know, but what the hell. Could be fun….

I got an email from their HR last week. The company is called landune. After reviewing my resume, they asked me to submit some writing samples. So I go to the company website to learn more. Turns out, they’re a company based in HK and SH, and they sell like four products in very specific categories: scar removal, skin whitening, anti-wrinkle , and breast enhancement. Scar removal and anti-wrinkle? Fine. Skin whitening? Not so cool: I see the obsession in China with skin bleaching, and it ain’t cool (why is being white some global prerequisite for ideal beauty?). But the real kicker is the breat enhancement crap. I mean, does that sound like a load of bull or what? Sure, in my earlier years I went through hell with my various insecurities (and I don’t think I’ll ever rid myself of them completely…), but even then these magical treatments sounded like scams. And now I’m almost 30; it’s so annoying that this shit sells. Goddamn beauty industry:it’s so evil and yet so many of us still get sucked in on some level. Anyway, I’m not gonna submit writing samples. I just can’t bring myself to write untruthful statements claiming “proven” scientific results and play on women’s already debilitating insecurities.

In other news, anyone outside of the beltway hear about Washingtonienne? The news broke months ago about the firing of a 26-year old Capitol Hill stafffer who authored a blog about her racy sex life, involving several DC power players… Sadly, it is yet another example of how society continues to reward and value women less for their intellect/competence and more for sex. In typical fucked-up fashion, this former Hill staffer skyrocketted from an unchallening $25k/year admin assist/mailwoman job to getting a $300k book deal to dish on her DC sex life AND a feature in the fall issue of Playboy. Not that I’d like to write a sex book (ha!) or appear in Playboy, but jesus christ! $300k??! That’s a shitload of money. Reality is just such a damn beotch. It makes me think again to Rob Gifford’s NPR series on China earlier this month. So many women in China turn to protitution. Why? Partly because earning a living is tough in a land where the labor supply is virtually infinite. And partly because poverty pushes people to desperate measures, and society pays women more as prostitutes/karaoke escorts/drinking buddies than as degreed office workers.

I go in waves here. At first, I was ready to conquer the world. I planned to join forces with the SH Women’s Federation and help them with training at their education center or their legal assistant center or their domestic violence clinic. I’ve slowly realized that all of those facilities, which they claimed were established for women here, are shams. They cannot possibly exist, as I have never found any contact information. When I attended the US-China Women’s Conference in April, the SH groups essentially told me I was not welcome to join their activities. Argh.

I thought about branching out on my own, but the system here is vast. In many cases, you simply fall under the radar, but in other instances, there’s just so much damn red tape. The government has too many urgent items on its agenda, and dealing with issues that cause any bit of “losing face” is not something it’s interested in publicizing. That means, denial is very widespread, for example, denial about the existence of sexism, of domestic violence, of sex trafficking. Recently, the government has acknowledged some problems (for example, HIV/AIDS, avian flu, SARS), but still the accountability is minimal and they spend more time on damage control than on finding solutions. On top of that, laws are interpreted inconsistently and officials are notorious for acting on whims. So what does this mean? I feel constrained–unable to do what I originally had hoped. I’ve tried to start something on my own, but these issues invariably bump into the realm of government enforcement/involvement. I’m afraid to jeopardize my safety. I tried contacting international groups for leads or assistance. It seems few NGOs have made inroads in China. For those with offices in China, the link between the Chinese office and say the US office is extremely weak– to the point that they don’t really seem to communicate. The Chinese office is completely run by locals. So for now, I feel I’m at an impasse. I even tried to offer free English lessons to low-paid women in the salon service sector– people expressed interest but when it came down to starting classes, they never went forward. I don’t know if it’s some kind of distrust or suspicion or what.

I think I will just focus on my personal goals. I am learning more characters– when I go out, I am recognizing more signs and figuring out flyers better. I am trying to build my network. (BTW, are any of you on Friendster? If so, add me to your list!) I’m watching Chinese movies– getting into the drama of it all.

Also, I forgot to mention. I’m in talks with a local HR consulting firm. They’ve put in a bid to train about 200 staffers at the SH Citigroup Software office. We met with the Citigroup COO and VP last week. Hopefully, we’ll get the gig. That’ll be some steady, longer term work.

Ok enough with my issues. I’ll trouble you with more later. 🙂

We Climbed Mount Tai’s 6,660 Steps!

We Climbed Mount Tai’s 6,660 Steps!

Two weeks ago, John and I were in a foreign bookstore again (I know, always a dangerous place to be when you’re with a bibliophile like John). Since Sue and Troy’s visit to Shanghai in early July, John had been feeling a bit disappointed about our limited travels in China. When we passed our eight-month mark at the beginning of August, we knew something had to be done: only Beijing, Suzhou, and Hangzhou were checked off our list. With renewed vigor, John searched far and wide for a new book to push us out and beyond Shanghai. [Btw, for potential China travelers: LP China is a shitty source (smug author Damien what’s-his-name SUCKS!)]. John’s latest China pick? World Heritage Sites in China– a gorgeous pictorial focusing on 28 cultural relic sites and natural landscapes in China. What the hell is “World Heritage”, you ask? The phrase certainly raised my eyebrows in skepticism. Actually, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, Cultural Organization UNESCO World Heritage program is pretty cool. Having seen so many sites in China that are mere replicas of their magnificent, ancient originals (previous governments failed to recognize and preserve their value to humanity), I only wish this international treaty calling for the preservation of cultural/natural sites was established sooner. Anyway, the book was so convincing that within days we began plotting our journey to Shandong province–home of the famed, sacred Mount Tai.

As always, the trip planning was exhausting and frustrating. So many times, I came close to calling the trip off. But opportune moments shouldn’t be wasted: SABIC canceled class (again), and it was just time to venture beyond SH. After two days on the phone checking airfares and researching transportation and lodging options, we got on the road. For the first time, we flew domestically. Luckily, many domestic flights go out of Hongqiao airport, conveniently located just 15 minutes from our apartment. Once again, John and I packed light– just one backpack per person (yes, this is worth mentioning– we’ve come a long way in that respect): check-in was a breezy 15 minutes to the gate. It’s nice not having to suffer through security measures like those in the US.

Our flight (Shandong Air) was a painless one. We arrived in Ji’nan, the capital of Shandong province in less than two hours. We hopped on a public bus (destination unknown)–the only one parked outside the small terminal. I asked a few people where precisely the bus would drop us off in the city, but no one knew or cared. Ji’nan was a bustling, dusty city. The airport was a good 40 minutes outside downtown. There was a lot of noise and construction, and I remember the ride was very bumpy. Finally, we were dumped off at some random hotel. Next, we got in a cab and headed for the train station. Across the station, we bought tickets for Tai’an, a city 80 km south and home to Mount Tai. Lonely Planet (LP) said the mini-bus was preferred over the public bus. Well, not our mini-bus. The experience was similar to our Beijing bus trip: worse in quality (they turned the AC off after 10 minutes, the vehicle had exhaust issues, and it was packed–with some people sitting on crappy stools in the aisle) but shorter in suffering. John sat in the front next to a street kid (maybe only about 7-10 years old) who rattled off to him in Chinese. I was crammed in the back row and received the least amount of air anywhere on the bus. The 90-minute ride, through what seemed like the dust bowl of China, offered disturbing glimpses of the countryside. Naked young children played in the dirt along this major road while farther down, women– dressed in their sexiest outfits–tried to coax drivers into stopping for the night. We saw fields, streams, and livestock. Herders managing their goats, sheep, or oxen; people bathing in the dirty surface waters along the road. It was bizarre.

We finally arrived in downtown Tai’an around 6:30pm. At that point, I had to call and book a hotel. Fortunately, Ctrip (the Chinese, inefficient version of Travelocity) was helpful this time and by 7pm, we were in our hotel room. After a short break, we went out on the streets again– looking for food. After wandering around, we randomly picked a place to eat. We ordered a chicken dish, which John said tasted good initially. Then, he noticed the meat texture was different– not like chicken. He stopped and we both lost our appetites. You see, a few months ago, my friend Helen emailed this file documenting a street vendor’s process of preparing a “chicken” dish starting with dead rats as the meat ingredient. Both John and me started seeing these unpleasant images, and dinner was over soon after that. On the way back to the hotel, we strolled through a night market. I was harassed by a beggar child who grabbed my shirt and just wouldn’t let go. It was not a pleasant end to the night.

The next day, John and I got up early. First stop: Dai Temple in Tai’an. Actually, it didn’t do much for me, because I was preoccupied. World Heritage site or not, I really wasn’t up for climbing Mount Tai–a 1,545-meter high mountain, ascended by many ancient emperors to worship the gods and give sacrifices. Four hours later, John and I made it to the summit. Supposedly, those who climb Mount Tai will live 100 years! We’ll see. The 10-km climb, albeit paved with stone steps the entire way, took John and me about four hours. It was exhausting. The moutain air was wonderful and we were so high up, the air was the best we’ve had over here. Still, the sun was merciless and some parts were so steep.

Strangely, vendors and little side shops lined much of the path. Their goods are all carried up manually. It is absolutely insane, especially since there’s a bus route to the halfway point and cable cars to the summit. But I guess China can afford to do inefficient, ridiculous things when there is an unlimited supply of cheap labor. John and I encountered several human beasts of burden on our ascent, and all we could do was get out of the way and stare in both shock and horror. The men ranged in age, although it’s difficult to say with certainty how old they were: manual laborers often look older than they are. They had dark tanned skin. Their bodies were slim yet very muscular, especially their calves and their necks. They carried their loads of melons, eggs, apples and such tied on each end of a 2-inch wide wooden beam. Without pads or cushions, the beams were set behind their necks on their lat muscles. Every several steps, they would switch sides, moving the weight from one lat muscle to the other. These men ascended a a slow and steady pace. Their shoes were the shittiest shoes in the world– probably just one step up from flipflops. Each step was careful and calculated. After watching these men, I stopped all my complaining immediately.

We reached the Mount Tai summit around 1pm. For 70 USD, we got a room at the Shenqi Hotel, located at the mountaintop. Our room was dark, dank, and musty with beds harder than nails and limited hot water (8-10pm), but John and I were just happy for a place to lie down. We awoke around dinnertime. Ate some mediocre foods at the hotel restaurant and then went back to bed. Got a wakeup call around 4:30 am to watch the famous Mount Tai sunrise. Unfortunately, the morning was completely foggy and there was absolutely nothing to see. Oh well, we were due for some uncooperative weather. We rode the cable car down the mountain to the halfway point. The descent to Zhong Tian Men (Middle Gate) took 10 minutes. Then, we hopped on a bus, again headed for some unknown destination in Tai’an city. From there, we cabbed over to the train station and got tickets to the port city of Qingdao.

The train ride was supposed to take 4.5 hours, according to LP. Our journey took 8. Yup, our entire Saturday was spent playing musical chairs on the train. After realizing at 5 hours that the trip was going to take an eternity, I finally caved and used the train potty. It was disgusting. Really disgusting. And I used research solid waste landfills so waste is not supposed to faze me! As the train ride went on, I witnessed people spitting on the train floor and watched the train crew’s tidy up: collect all garbage; open the tilt window; place garbage on the window; slam the window, slinging the garbage along the train tracks. Yeah, just ignore the bright sign inside the train which says NOT to throw garbage out the window. Argh!!! No wonder China has all kinds of pollution problems (including non-potable water).

Qingdao was a really cool city. The second largest port city in China (Shanghai is the first), QD is home of Tsingtao beer. The place has a totally different feel than anywhere else we’ve been in China. Historically, it was colongized by the Germans– they built the brewery. The architecture is very hodge-podge but clearly shows more western influences. There are six beaches in Qingdao and all of them are against the stunning backdrop of rocky mountains. What a refreshing change QD was: clean air, wide roads. The only downside is that QD covers a lot of area, and the only form of public transportation is bus. Plus, because of the mountains, bikes aren’t very popular. For the most part, John and I got around by cab. We went to one of the beaches– it was unexpectedly clean; the sand was dark brown; and the water was warm and clear. The beach was really crowded, but people appeared to be enjoying themselves. It was nice to see the Chinese in a different setting. There was a lot to see in QD, but unfortunately, John and I were pretty tired. We wasted a lot of time traveling from one end of the city to the other (LP really screwed us over in QD), and then today it was pouring rain. Luckily, John and I got to enjoy the beach, see the coastline, and swim some at the hotel pool (contrary to what he’s always told me, John can actually swim a little!). Today, traveling back to SH was a bit tiresome because of the heavy rains, but it’s okay. I want to take my parents to Qingdao. I think they’d like the instant gratification of having the mountains and sea so close. Plus, QD is very clean; it has a new international airport (the sailing component of the 2008 Beijing Olympics will be in QD); and the seafood is excellent. Oh, just so happens, QD was having its annual International Beer Festival this week. John and I had the good fortune of seeing the Chinese in a festival/carnival setting. That was interesting. At least John got his roasted sandwich fix. Meanwhile, I got a good look at a roasting pig.

The Latest

The Latest

A lot’s been going on these last several days. Temps remain hotter than hell, but John and I are trying to fight it. The dogs are now getting me up between 5:15 and 5:30 every morning… I used to like waking up early, but now it’s getting a little annoying. In the end, what can you do but give in. It’s tough to ignore Remy’s breath in my face. Plus, even with my eyes shut, I can feel her sorry brown eyes staring at me. The good news is that by now, I have learned to venture out into the grasses well-protected. That means kicking the flip flops/shorts habit and opting for socks, sneakers, and long pants. The buggies don’t get me now!! My legs are bite-free. Hurray!

We recently saw “Shi Mian Mai Fu” (Ambush from All Sides), aka “House of Flying Daggers.” It’s the latest Zhang Yimou film. Admittedly, I’ve never been a big fan of Chinese movies– actually, John says I’ve never really been a big fan of anything culturally Chinese (which is true). Maybe it was the decade of forced attendence at Chinese school, or maybe it was the monotony of having Chinese food all while growing up— I dunno, but for most of my adolescent and adult life, I was really sick of Chinese stuff. Anyway, the strange thing is, I’m finally getting into Chinese things– guess that’s a good thing, considering that I’m now living here. So back to the movie: we had originally planned to see it at the Kodak Theater in downtown XuJiaHui (our subdistrict). John’s tutor Lenni (who is sorta a Ms. Know-it-all) said a matinee movie would only cost 40 yuan there. Figuring a native would know what she’s talking about, I went ahead and arranged a movie meetup with Carol and her friend. When we got there, the tickets were 60 yuan– for all movies. We bailed on the movie that day, and following further research, I located a playing at the SH Film Art Center (where the SH Film Festival is held yearly) for only 40 yuan. 60-40, doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when people are making 20 yuan/hour, it is. Anyway, the movie was awesome. A lot of the critics and chinese newspapers said the plot was really lame; John and I mostly didn’t follow the plot. Cinematically, it was incredible. I swear, anytime I see some kind of performance– be it musical, dance, theatrical, whatever– afterwards, I feel like such an untalented freak. I wanted to learn martial arts after this movie. But for now, I’m limiting my hobbies to Chinese literacy and guzheng. I gotta pace myself.

Oh, NPR’s Rob Gifford (another whitey who is fluent in Mandarin!) is doing an excellent special on China. His 14-day assignment takes him on a 3,000 mile journey across China. John and I have been listening to his series every day. Rob rocks! I’m gonna see if my buddy Korva can hook me up with this tough-as-nails dude. Hey, not everyone is willing to trek across China via bus, taxi, hitchhiking. Having had several foul experiences on board a Chinese bus, I give him mad props. Check out the map online: it’s a damn long journey.

In other news, John and I followed up our previous weekend experience (porno pool) with bowling at Sakura. Located down an stinky, dingy alley, Sakura is a 40-lane bowling facility only frequented by locals. We went around 10:30 at night. The place was surprisingly dead. Only a handful of lanes were occupied. Oh well, no complaints here. I guess what I’ve read is true: Karaoke has really swiped bowling alleys of their business.

John and I really enjoy bowling. Actually, I got John into the sport several months ago. Initially, he was so reluctant and uninterested. Now, he loves it. He’s always trying to top that all-time personal best (165?). Unfortunately, I’m a very inconsistent bowler. In fact, I’m a very inconsistent athlete. I blame it on my form (or lack thereof). I always try to use the correct form, but I never get it right. It was like that with b-ball. Oh well, I enjoying bowling, so I’m gonna keep at it. Who cares if no one wants me on their league. 🙂

OMG, yesterday John and I went to a Beijing duck restaurant. Soooo good. Yeah, in case if you need me to spell it out, poultry is now off my meat list. Without a cheap and large supply of cheese, I’m really struggling to find food that is filling. We cut the Wuster back to just twice a week, and in the summer, the dishes are kind of limited. The Chinese believe that in hot weather, you must consume “cooling” foods. So that’s just a few light veg dishes and zou (soupy rice). I am currently reconsidering my vegetarianism, which is very disturbing to me… more on this later.

Ok, John and I are having an ice cream social in our home office. Time to watch Fahrenheit 9/11. 🙂



John’s been itching for a radio… and he finally got one last week. Now instead of torturing me with his music reruns of Outkast and John Mayer, he has Chinese pop filling the room. Btw, that includes really bad Britney Spears and Mariah Carey covers. But it’s kinda cool seeing him get into the Chinese daytime chatter. Already, he’s picked up the popular advertising phrases– zui xin, zui ku, which mean the newest and coolest. Fortunately, the lack of Chinese creativity and originality results in a lot of repetition on the airwaves. John beams with excitement every time he recognizes clips of the audio. Then I get to hear the fast-paced ruckus as background noise in our office and as my bedtime lullaby. Despite its cuteness, I want that radio to die!

In other news, my laptop display is no longer showing the bright red lines. Now the damn thing just abruptly turns off in the middle of typing. It’s really kinda freaky. The wifi card light turns off, the screen goes dark, but the fan continues to run and the power lights/keyboard lights remain on. I called the local Compaq repair shop, and Mr. Zhang said it sounded like an overheating issue, especially since the temps have been really hot here lately. Okay well I never had this problem before I sent my laptop to you for repair and second, the computer is in my office– where I run the AC daily. Look like I get to contact HP online chat again. Yay!

Thinking of customer service, yesterday I went to the bank and there was this American guy with his British friend waiting in line. No wonder people in the international community hate Americans. He was a goddamn prick– loud, obnoxious, impatient. He kept complaining in English that service was slow– at a volume loud enough for everyone in the damn building to hear. Then when he got up to the window, he made his request in Chinese but when they couldn’t process his transaction, he started being an ass in English, saying shit like, “Ok. Whatever. Just give me my stuff back then. Geez. blah, blah, blah.” I should have told him to shut the hell up. I hate assholes like that. Cocky bastard.

Porno Pool

Porno Pool

So Cissy’s English training wrapped up for good last week. I graded her final exam and wrote a student evaluation. I actually enjoyed writing the eval– it came out pretty formal and authoritative. Yeah okay, so I got a minor power trip with these turned tables. 🙂

To celebrate the end of the Carrier assignment, John and I decided it was time for a night on the town. So many times before, we had ventured past bar/pub strips in Gubei during the day. We kept saying we had to check the places out at night. After getting all decked out, we were severely diappointed. The place was dead– on a Saturday night. After walking up and down the street looking for some signs of life, we finally caved in to the heat. Seeing a sign that read, “Free billiards upstairs”, we were sold. At least this bar had a few people inside…

As the hostess escorted us upstairs, I started feeling queesy. At first, I thought it was our ascension from AC to no AC. But then when I processed that the magazine pictures taped to the walls in the stairwell were becoming more pornographic with every step. Well as soon as we got upstairs, she switched on the lights, the fan, and the AC (no one was up there, apparently); suddenly, I was surrounded by magazine pages so unmistakeably torn from hardcore porn zines. For a few minutes, I stood there in shock. Goddamnit, porn is illegal in China! Well there was no hiding it in this place. The hostess told us to have a seat while the AC got going… she pointed to the cue sticks and brought out the triangle. We might as well have been in a Chuck E Cheese… for how nonchalant she was. I mean, didn’t she find this room offensive and degrading? I felt so disgusted and dirty… I wanted to leave but we didn’t. I don’t know why not. John, half laughing, apologized and insisted that we couldn’t have known about the room. He said we would cool off, play a few games, get some drinks, and then leave.

It was quite a surreal experience. As I grabbed the cue sticks off the rack, I was met face to face with a blonde with unnaturally and surely painfully large breasts. They were down to her waist, for chrissakes! And of course, no underwear. There were tens of images like this. I tried to think of counter-arguments– these women chose to do this, blah, blah. I was convinced by none of it. John told me to look away, but when I did, I just thought of the poor waitresses who must bring drinks/food to guys playing pool in a room like this. John tried to direct my attention to images on the opposite wall– images of an Asian woman, naked in a natural setting. He said those pictures were more artistic and appreciative of the natural (un-enlarged) female form. Those particular picturers were not pornographic, he said. In some cases, such images are artistic. Maybe. But, whatever. The pool room was definitely not a goddamn art gallery. Even if some images weren’t crotch shots or whatever, the whole place was decorated in a manner intending to objectify. I mean, the walls were plastered with women in unquestionably pornographic poses, then cars, motorcycles, and right a few “artistic” shots. Ugh. I was so annoyed. I probably shouldn’t have stayed… at least it was just John and me. I definitely would have left if others were present. And I probably would have said something to management as well. Either way, I was pissy and irritated the rest of the night.