Class of 1967 Message Center

Class of 1967 Message Center
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My Girl

I expected Shanghai to look like Saigon 1968 with out the bullet holes. I could not have been more wrong. We flew out of LAX, which looks like a run down third world airport, into Shanghai which was huge, modern and clean, but empty. I had been told that because of the one child policy the young Chinese were spoiled: lazy, rude and self absorbed. I didn't see that. The cities we visited were clean and new with lots of new construction and the feel and smell of money, much like Boise. Everyday our bus took us to a new city. We filed off the bus and were ushered into an office building with tables and chairs. We were served hot tea and were given a class that usually lasted about an hour on what ever topic we were there to see. We studied silk one day, then fresh water pearls, jade or maybe bottle painting depending on what our current town was known for. We were then offered a chance to buy pearls or jade of whatever. We rode into one town that reminded me of downtown Fairfield, California 1960. In the foyer was a beautiful, large carved stone dragon. As we waited for our temporary tour guide Mr Lau explained that this was a lucky, money dragon. As you were leaving the building you were suppose to rub his tail, then put your hand in your pocket until you got outside. This brought your money luck outside with you. About this time our guide found us and took us deep into the bowels of this building, down long corridors, then upstairs, always twisting and turning. I could have never found my way out of there alone. We were seated at a table in what looked like a well lit jewelry store, then served tea. There were about a half dozen girls in this room all dressed alike in grey pants suits with starched white shirts. They were all tall and professional looking and friendly. Just as the presentation started, a well dressed man in his 50's with a fine looking leather jacket and shooter sunglasses walked into the room and started out another door. The girls all made of big deal out of him and he was persuaded to speak to us. He welcomed us and offered us jade at an extremely good price. One of the girls looked distressed and told him that this price was less than they could buy for themselves. He said we were fine looking people and he felt a bond with us and the girls should sell us the jade at this reduced price anyway. I had to put my hand over my mouth to keep from smiling. OK, they brought different pieces of jade out and passed them around for us to hold and look at. We passed the pieces to our left after we held and admired them. The couple to my left was sitting about four feet away so a girl was stationed there to pass the jade along. I noticed that every time I handed her a piece she smiled at me. She was smiling with her eyes. I was amazed. I thought that this girl was very well trained. I liked her anyway and thought she was a dandy. After the presentation we all stood up and the sales girls started closing deals with our tour members. I tried to talk to my girl but she demurred and one of the other girls said my girl had forgotten all the English she had learned. I decided to play with her. I shook her hand and said, "" She repeated it and the other girls laughed. Windy told me to show them my boots. I did and they all made a big deal and said, "Cowboy." They were all smiles gathered around and of course I played the part. My girl stood back and seemed distracted. I toyed with the sales girls a little bit, but my girl never smiled. When it was time to leave, we formed up and started down the corridors. My girl walked along beside me without talking. I thought this must be part of her training to make me feel welcome and want to return. When we got to the foyer she turned to me and said, "Don't forget to rub the dragon's tail for luck before you leave." I was stunned. Her English was better than mine. I said, "You rascal, you aced me." She shot me a million dollar smile, tuned on her heals and walked out of my life. Welcome to China where every thing is not as it seems. Life if good.