When Stick and I were in Qingdao, we stopped at a tiny DVD store, mostly so he could read the Chinglish. After a few months in Yantai, I’m usually so excited to see an English sentence, that I can over look some of the errors that leave Stick gasping for air.
These DVDs are totally NOT pirated or illegal or anything because they’re being sold in an actual shop, not on the street, and that is exactly what I’m going to tell the customs inspector when I’m trying to get them back into the states. (Do you think I should cry when I say it, or look entitled-American defiant? And if they do confiscate my movies at the border, do you think I can at least keep my Chinese Starship Troopers for Jay?) Somehow these fine, legal copies have blurbs and flavortext unedited from fan sites and blogs. These blurbs may not be flattering, they may not be about the movie in question, in fact they might not even be about movies at all but they’re English. Almost.
“What does that even say?” Stick asks, about a blurb on the back of one movie. “Look, the Sopranos! Box set!” (Would someone who’s seen an American copy tell me if it should be the Sopranos or The Sopranos?)
“That’s the violent HBO show, yeah? The mobsters?” I ask. Did I mention that I no longer make proper questions? After getting a (loose) grasp on hao bu hao and you mei you, I’ve decided that ma is my favorite Chinese grammatical construction. You can make any statement into question with ma, or in English yeah? on the end.
I ask the proprietor for the price, and we decide that about $25 is a reasonable price for seasons 1-4. Stick leaves happily, sure that I’m going to love this show. I’m less enthused because I hate violent films. (I never really watched TV when I was a kid, and I think that’s directly responsible for why I can’t stand to watch movie gore or violence. I made Stick turn off Silence of the Lambs after seven minutes and I had to close my eyes for parts of Rome. Give me I, Claudius any day!) But six months in China has made me appreciate how nice it would be to have a simple night in front of the TV with my boyfriend so I agreed.
A few nights later, we were back in Yantai, sitting on the couch with pineapple beers in hand.
“I can’t watch this, boy,” I said, halfway into the series premiere.
“It’s not even violent yet!” he protested.
“I know… it’s just the food. Pizza. Pasta. Cheese. Salads. Mmmm. Why do they have to eat so much on this show? I don’t know if I can watch!”