Today is China and my two-month anniversary!
Last night, I got a phone call from Cora, another foreign teacher at a nearby school. When I was in England and I met other Americans, we’d laugh about how many potatoes and how much warm beer our British classmates could consume. In China, it’s exciting to run into someone from any country where they don’t blow their nose on the sidewalk.
After comparing the lies our headmistresses tell us and each other, we got down to business. I told her which nightmarket has a stall with deoderent, and she told me how to get to a downtown cafe that does a sideline in imported cheese. We have become junkies for Western products, and we tell each other how to get the next much-needed fix befor exchanging last names, ages or hometowns.
“What’s in Minnesota besides the Vikings?” I asked Cora, trying not to imagine her above-average Chinese middle-schoolers learning to say “Whatever” and “That’s different,”
“You follow the Vikings?”
“No, but my boyfriend has couch-coached them for almost 30 years. Unfortunately for me, by the time I got him undressed and saw his tattoo, it was too late. I liked him too much and I couldn’t escape.” (Living alone in a city where no one speaks English has been detrimental to my social skills)
“We also have the Mall Of America,” Cora told me. “It’s the biggest mall in the country! We’re the mall state!”
“This is exactly why statistics need context. There should be a malls:population ratio, or we should look at the relationship between square feet of shopping space to square miles of state.”
“Did you say you were from Massachussetts?”
“I’ve lived there for 6 years, but I was born in New Jersey. Oh, can you tell?”