Everytime I start to feel like I understand
China Yantai my tiny neighborhood in Kaifaqu, something happens to remind me that I’m far away from home.
Today Dorothy, another teacher, walked into the madhouse we call an office, giggling and holding a glossy leaflet. Kaifaqu is full of folks who hand out advertisements on the street. I can usually duck these by shouting can bu dong (can’t read! can’t read!) and running away, but sometimes someone is so pushy that I end up with a glossy ad for aluminum siding or something else I don’t need and can’t understand.
“Meg, guess what this is!”
“Yeah, yeah, my sister already bought porn by mistake. Those girls on the covers just look so innocent!”
I searched Dorothy’s booklet for a clue. There was a twenty-something girl in a sundress, three smiling nurses with a huge bouquet. Another girl was napping in her night gown, a couple raised their glasses in a toast, another cute nurse talking to another female patient, and Angelina Jolie in lingerie.
It’s a brochure from a local abortion hospital.
I flipped through the booklet, wondering exactly how one advertises abortions. After safe and legal, what is there to say? I stared at the hundreds of Chinese characters and then I realized that Dorothy can’t read Chinese either. “Wait a moment, how did you find out what this is?”
“I thought it was an ad for a spa,” she said, “so I took it to the office and asked the secretaries to make an appointment for us to go together.”