10
Apr
08

How China Gave Me A Taste of Adolescence

One of the places that Allison and I have discovered in Beijing is a neighborhood called Wudaoko. It’s practically expat central, almost as much as Chaoyang District, except that it’s much more focused on people aged 18 to 35. Several businesses there seem to cater specifically to foreigners, and to my great delight, there are several coffee shops that are actually 24 hour establishments with great coffee and western food. Not even Madison or Boston had any places like that. Not since I lived in Austin did I have study spots this nice. The coffee is still overpriced a tad, but just a tad. Many of the blog posts you read here were written and posted at these places, which all also have free wifi.

One of these places is called “Lush.” I don’t know where the name comes from, but I’d be very impressed if it was named for the 90’s British band of the same name, one of my favorite bands of all time. And hopefully not after this international fancy soap retail outlet. My money’s on the former. And this place has something that Allison tells me originates in British pubs – a weekly Pub Quiz. Perfect, I thought, when it was explained to me. This is something Allison and I together would utterly dominate at. A pub quiz involves teams that compete over several rounds of trivia questions for prizes ranging from free bottles of Jack Daniels to “buckets” of 8 bottles of Tsingtao beer.

I gave it a stab last week, with several students here from Uganda and Kenya. We just did okay, but hell, all of us were first-timers. So we agreed to try again the following week with a larger team (we had four members total, but the winning teams had twice that, sometimes more). This week, Allison and some of her friends joined us. And sure enough, this time we kicked ass on questions ranging from geography, music, and movies. Since we didn’t know the name of the guy who played Elizabeth Hurley’s character opposite Dudley Moore in the original 1968 Bedazzled, and didn’t know the make or model of the car in Christine, and since I confused Paraguay with Uruguay, we tied with two other teams for second place. So to disperse places and break the tie, they asked each team to send one person up. My team sent me, thinking that they were going to ask us some questions in a kind of sudden heat. Oh no. It was a competition of a very different sort.

We were each handed a bottle of Tsingtao beer, and told that the placings, and prizes, would be allocated to whichever of us managed to down the entire bottle of beer the fastest. Well, as you may know, I’m not much of a heavy drinker. I’ve never tried to chug a beer before ever. So I gave it the old college try, but alas, the two other guys, who looked like stereotypical college frat guys, easily outdid me. I did pull it off drinking the whole thing, and people seemed to think I did a respectable job, but naturally I came in dead last. Other people in my group noted how last week, when they offered me a tequila shot (a drink I’ve only had once or twice in my life), I actually sort of sipped it and drank it down in two or three gulps. I must not be cut out for heavy drinking or binge drinking, I guess. Goes to show that you can be great at trivia, but you’re only really a master at this kind of thing if you’re good at trivia and you can drink like a fish at the same time.

Allison and I are pretty competitive, so we’ll definitely be back next week. Only next time, if we need someone for a tie-breaker like that, I’ll have to ask whether Allison’s friends or our new teammates if one of them can try the drink chugging portion. For the record, though, I only had about one and a half other beers in addition to that the whole night, so I didn’t quite get drunk. Still, the moment I was finished with the beer on stage, I have to admit something did change – walking wasn’t hard, and I didn’t trip or anything, but it was… different. That’s the best I can describe it. Otherwise, maybe this means that I can now say that I’ve experienced, for the first time, some aspect of an adolescence? Even if only for one night?

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