Ok now I am going to get into some hater shit. I watched an old Katt Williams special last night and he was talking about Star Players and Haters. This essay is actually an older one that’s been in my Stuff Folder for a while, but as I was cleaning up my desktop in preparation for … some type of work … I came across “Dork Nation” and decided, why not post it.
I never read River Town and still haven’t. I will never read that fucking book. I have heard how the book describes the heart of Chongqing, and that is precisely why I can never read it. I lived in Chongqing for two years and only I know the heart of that city. The hard bitten slutty heart. Seductive and calculating, hard drinking and hard partying, unapologetic when making moves. Chongqing for me will always be overgrown buildings sweating in the sun. Girls. Girls with streetwise eyes and skimpy shorts. Girls wiping hot pot moustaches and gangster cum off of their lips. Having someone pay, or getting paid. Offering pussy for a tabletop of BBQ at 3am. Girls causing fights and heartache and moaning masturbation sessions long after the fact. Skinny dudes with scorpion tattoos. Stickmen and whores. Traffic and noodles. Muddy waters mixing with slate grey depths at the Chaotianmen Point. Docks and pink lights. Baijiu staggerings and defeat. Glade, stale cum, sticky beer hallways and peppercorn. A girl turning her head to watch me go, a girl sneering at my shadow as I pass.
Chongqing will never be Hessler’s sanitized, romantic, asexual Chongqing for me.
And yet Hessler was the type of guy who always defeated me in China – dorky, successful, great Mandarin skills, white. In the early years, when I wrote for Antiwar.com and rolled up spliffs to pay rent, white guys with dress codes were living the China Dream. Hessler published his book the year I arrived in Chongqing, and I already knew that reading his book would be stepping into a dream Chongqing … hell I have no idea what the book is about … but I knew somehow that the Chongqing I would fall in love with would be the antithesis of his. But both of our lovers would yearn for Hessler’s River Town, not for my disjointed, unread essays. I would lose my muse and lover to Hessler, so I didn’t let her read his book. I knew what would happen if she got her hands on it …
Like the time I had Xiao Li stolen right from under my nose by Godfrey, a dorky white Harvard graduate who always dressed white collar. In his living room late night too drunk to think straight, I listened to the tones of their voices as she tossed them up and he slammed them down. You know, her all teasingly “do you got what it takes to satisfy me” and him with phone voice conviction “oh girl I definitely have what it takes.” I could hear it going down, but you know that situation is always tough, Do I put my foot down? Try and slip in and whip out my own crushingly awesome line? or let it go down and hope she displays a bit of loyalty the fucking ho. Loyalty in Chongqing is a pair of battered, mud bespattered Liberation shoes on a beaten peasant’s corncobbed feet.
Had they been alone she would have sucked his dick on camera.
But I was there. My Chinese is pretty good, was pretty good back then too, but I couldn’t understand a word he was saying to her, and not a word of what she was saying either. I remember my thoughts struggling up from the deep end, looking up at the two of them at the edge of the pool, mottled and blurry, but their feet clearly caressing three inches from my drowning face.
One of Godfrey’s groupies was trying to distract me long enough for Xiao Li and Godfrey to finalize the deal (that’s right the motherfucker had groupies helping him get laid, encouraging Godfrey-centered orgies. hatehatehate), but when he jumped up ran into his room and grabbed a sweater for her to wear, my brain and heart finally met somewhere in my throat and I acted. I just grabbed her and left. Told Godfrey he was a mutherfucker and tried to make sure they didn’t exchange numbers. I took her home and licked her delicious pussy all night long. We made love as the sun rose and she said to me
“I’m beautiful, but not sexy. Don’t you think?”
I said something stupid in reply.
Xiao Li was my Chongqing hottie. The hottest girl around by far, and she was mine. I met her in 2001 on the streets of Beibei. I was interviewing Stickmen for a story that would eventually run in the SCMP, she was wandering around with a friend. I must have said something funny to the peasant and his stick, because she laughed out loud. I turned to her and asked her what she was laughing at. She had the most arresting features. Eyes like pinched almonds, a nose like a pixie princess, freckles across her cheeks, and long long legs. I said things to her in my phone voice, my compelling voice. She replied in the same tone, now that I think of it, that she used in Godfrey’s living room years later.
I waited for her underneath her dorm window with a bouquet of flowers. When she came down she took me to the soccer field and we made out standing in the darkness. Couples dotted the field, embraced like we were, shadows coming together and apart again. Whenever we went somewhere together, Xiao Li became the center of attention. Chinese men would speak to her boldly, because she was beautiful and with me, so they thought she was easy. She never turned away advances, because no matter how beautiful she was to me and everyone else, Xiao Li always needed more. Even women wanted her.
I remember her straddling me in the courtyard of some farmer’s house down the muddy lanes of Beibei’s neighborhoods, bugs bit us but we kept kissing. And looking at each other. She had on a white flowing dress. For months I tried to get her to sleep with me, but she would only proceed in increments. Eventually I spurned her for my Japanese lover. It was public and humiliating for her. I introduced her to some schlep there, a Chinese kid with slicked hair and lensless glasses. He took her virginity in the tiny university hotel built specifically for deflowering, above the BBQ stands and 24 hour netbar. I asked her if it was good and she said it was quick. I felt a bit better when she said that.
Later, after we were lovers, she met me on my return from Europe. She was done up with make up and sparkles all over her face. She asked me “How do I look?” I replied dismissively. “Too much makeup.”
It took me years afterwards, after I had already seen her for the last time, to remember that she had immediately gone to the bathroom – one of those piss stained closets in the back of a noodle shop – and washed her face clean of makeup.
When I took her to Godfrey’s house, it was too impress him. By that time she was my lover and showing her off was my way of getting one over on the east coast elite. I managed to drag her out of his apartment just before he got her telephone number. The vision of them having hot clandestine sex behind my back, even after I dragged her out, burns me still to this day. I want to call Godfrey now, and demand he tell me if they ever met again.
Had he taken some random girl we were both talking to at a party, or even a girl I had already had sex with but wasn’t that crazy about, no problem. But taking Xiao Li, even for just a minute, was a total defeat for me. She was the hot Chinese girl all foreigners think they are dating. When in fact most of us date country girls, small town students, maybe some outcasts who were destined to date a foreigner. The super hot Chinese girls are actually not interested in foreigners per se, they are interested in status. Specifically improving theirs. Thats why a fat piece of shit with a BMW can get a hot wife – here and everywhere really – but definitely here. These girls, in fact, stay away from foreigners because as a whole we are broke and clumsy.
But they do not shy away from the fucking Hesslers and Godfreys of the world. They are a Chinese girl’s wet dream. Successful, Chinese sensibilities (read: dorky as all hell), white. 靠谱. Chinese women like reliability and success – all women are attracted to a man’s ability to control the resources around him, biologically speaking, but I have never seen it so blatantly on display as here in China.
Xiao Li, the personification of Chongqing, the hottest girl I had been with, beautiful and sultry, with a voice that melted almost all of me … she was, in the end, unintelligible to me. I was sitting right next to her and Godfrey as they were seducing each other, as she tossed those balls up, and I couldn’t even understand what they were saying. Me, the guy who spoke Sichuan hua, the dude people said was turning Chinese, found out that all my claims to this nation were low level boasts. I couldn’t even fight back.
Chongqing belongs to Hessler, Xiao Li to Godfrey. Sure, I fucked her a lot, but given the chance, she would have tossed me into the sticky gutter. There is no question that Chongqing would rather be Hessler’s Chongqing, and Xiao Li would marry Godfrey and have the punks babies if she could. I was left in Chongqing while both those sorry ass white boys dipped out to Beijing, Or Shanghai. With my beloved Chongqing’s heart beating for them.
Now this is a story with a million exceptions and holes. This story is only one of a trillion truths. It’s a story of jealousy and regret, one that is happy to be dredged up now. Godfrey is Lord knows where, and Xiao Li … Xiao Li is … she’s on every street corner in Chongqing, laughing at my Chinese, kissing me in the lamplight, walking naked into my bedroom, moaning, flirting, vanishing into a black santana with a jade turtle pendant, wearing tight jeans and a red pleather jacket, breaking my heart.
Sometimes I fear I have wasted my allotted time, and memories of lovers past will haunt me until I am an insignificant parody of Corleone, on the bench, remembering.