In China, I feel so brilliant and successful when I do daily things like catch the bus to the mall. I planned to settle down with an ludicrously expensive frappuccino, and do my math homework in the Living Mall’s Starbucks. This is one of the wonderful things about expat life — making my way to the coffeeshop feels like such an accomplishment! Ordering my drink feels like such an accomplishment!
Well, the Starbucks was packed, in that particular Chinese way that’s less of a line out the door, and more of complete chaos. Also, in Yangzhou a Starbucks is a place to take rambunctious children, and while my babysquee has been intensifying with my thirties, it’s not really conductive to studying. So I went next door to Meowth Coffee, figuring they would have wifi, A/C and an available table, which would possibly evolve into an even stronger Pokemon later.
I ordered a vanilla latte at the counter, and the cashier handed me my change, and a small purple stuffed bear. That’s… not at all what I think I said. I have some trouble with vanilla and cilantro (香菜 and 香草, pronounced almost exactly alike) but so far no one has served me vanilla soup or cilantro ice cream. But this is it, more than two years speaking Chinese every day, and I think I’ve just asked for a vanilla latte but really I’ve accidentally purchased a purple teddy bear. I stare with confusion for a little while, because, come on, ordering the food I like is definitely my strongest area of Chinese. Also I got the correct change for a vanilla latte. So there’s that.
Anyway, turns out that Meowth uses cute stuffed animals instead of table numbers as markers for semi-table service. So I just wanted you all to know that I am so awesome I can do my homework without accidentally buying any teddy bears. Expat life is wonderful.