Say What?

I was in the bedroom. From the other room I heard a soft crash, then, “Fuck!” Ayi Jiang doesn’t speak English and Hunter was at school. There was only one other person in the house…my mischievous, two year old birthday boy.

I walked out and he was picking up one of his cars. “What did you just say?” Without looking up he said, “fuck.” He was so nonchalant and natural, I couldn’t help but laugh. Loudly. This of course made him smile, laugh and repeat.

Fuck. Fuck! Fuck!!

Mommy, fuck!

I felt like I had already ruined it by laughing so I didn’t try to control it anymore. The two of us were literally ROFLing, so he kept going.

Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!

Later, I was able to calm down and explain that that is a bad word and we should say, “shoot!” Or, “oh man!” just like Mommy always says. But, it was too late. A week or so later, he still seems to know the exact time it’s going to catch me off guard. He’ll say, “mommy,” wait for me to innocently ask, “what?”  And then with his cheeky smile, will say, “fuck” and wait for the laugh. He obviously gets this from his dad.

I know I should really be doing more to discourage this but I just can’t. Really, it’s very, very funny.

And so, I’m adding this to the list of reasons why it’s fun to live in Shanghai. It’s fun to live in Shanghai because when your kid yells “fuck” in a public place, the majority of people don’t look twice. I’m also adding this to the list of reasons why I really need to take Mandarin lessons. I want to know that there are other two year olds shouting obscenities for fun.

Or, so that my mind can be put to rest when I feel like people are talking about me – right in front of me. This has happened three times in as many days so I’m feeling a little paranoid.

I went to turn a light on the other day, the light flicked on for a second, then I heard a pop, saw a flash and the adjacent room went dark. I knew I had blown a fuse but I didn’t have anything new or extra plugged in so i began to doubt that I knew I had blown a fuse. I’ve blown a fuse before. I know how simple it is to fix. I even knew our fuse box here is hidden behind the ugly painting of birds in trees. But are Chinese fuse boxes the same? Maybe they are more powerful? Maybe they require something more than flipping a couple of switches? I’m just a dumb blond American, what do I know? So I called our maintenance line and managed to get them to understand I was having an issue. When the guy came in, I went to the light switches, turned them on and with my best Mandarin accent said, “bu gongzuo” (not working). He walked over to the sorry looking birds, pointed and said something. I guessed it was, “the fuse box is behind this?” So I said yes and he took the painting off the wall.

Guess what? Chinese fuse boxes work exactly like American fuse boxes. You just flip a switch. I felt like such an idiot. His expression and demeanor did nothing to assuage this feeling. I can’t be sure of what he said but I’m pretty sure it translates to something like, “Dumb, blond, overprivledged American housewife.”

So like the overprivledged American housewife that I am, I went for a pedicure. The spa was lovely. I was greeted with a cup of tea and ushered into a lavender scented room with big, comfy lounge chairs. There were two women there – one seemingly the apprentice who fetched towels and magazines and a huge binder with pages and pages of nail color reminiscent of picking out wall paint and the other, the pedicurist (is that a word?). They chatted to each other but kept smiling at me. I’m pretty sure they were trying to gauge my level of mandarin fluency. When I registered a blank smile back, pedicurist finally spoke directly to me, pointed to the water my feet were soaking in and said, “ok?” She sort of seemed to want to know if the water temperature was ok, but really it seemed like it was more of a, “we’re going to continue talking about you. OK?”  At one point she showed me a booklet with additional treatments they offered and pointed to some kind of exfoliating cream. “Very dry,” she said with a disapproving look. Then she yelled to the apprentice that I’m sure translated to, “We’re going to need more cream. She’s got the heels of a 60 year old man!” Sadly, it’s true. I can count on one hand the number of pedicures I’ve had in my entire life (and even then, would have a couple of fingers left over). Apparently, it’s obvious. So I self consciously sat and listening to their chatting and laughing and patiently waited for it to be over.

And lastly, our internet has been giving us some trouble. And by trouble I mean we can’t have both a 2 and 3 year old watching Peppa Pig and Elmo on their iPads at the same time. It’s been unusually slow and spotty. When I couldn’t get to my blog for days, I broke down and had Jiang call a guy. He came, shuffled around, and barked some things at Jiang. She politely responded, they looked at me and talked and laughed. He spent about 15 minutes here. In the end I feel like he was saying, “there is nothing I can do to make their internet faster. Overprivledged Americans. I’ll just unplug and replug some wires and we’ll pretend it’s fixed.”

Or maybe I’m just completely paranoid. I am, aren’t I? They probably weren’t even talking about me at all. Fuck, I sound like a neurotic narcissist, don’t I?

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