Day 118 - Giant Birthday

Saturday, June 4th, 2016
The Beer, and Two Lovely Ladies for Scale
Smog Level: 1/3 Mountain

Lenient Beginnings

At 8:30am, my alarm goes off. I don’t want to get up, but check my phone. Turns out I don’t have to, since my tutoring student cancelled at 8:26am because of something they should’ve known about for at least a few days. Whatever. Guess I get to sleep in. I don’t actually go back to sleep until 11.

Noon, roll out of bed and invite Dan to go to the gym, he accepts on the condition that we leave before 1. Deal.

At the Gym

My work out is cut slightly short because I don’t want to keep him waiting. I figured he’d take longer than me, since he was using the pool, but I also was a little sluggish. As I finished a set, I turn to see him laying on the ground. He was actually resting between doing planks, but preferred to think he was just laying there.

We strolled back, chatting. He suggested we get pizza from his old Papa John. I point out that we will be getting pizza later tonight, which he assures me is not a problem. I join with the intent to watch him eat. Instead, I accept his offer of a few slices while we talk about writing, science education, Trump / Stephen Hawking, and  a charity event he's setting up.

Most of the Crew
Playing with Locals

32" Pizza - 4 Topping arrangements!
Walking after pizza, a little boy shouts out “lǎo wái!” (foreigner) to which Dan responds by spinning around and saying “zài nǎr??!” (Where?!). I laughed, kid's mother laughed, kid was confused.

Beginning the Celebration

Shimou is running late because of traffic, her flight taking a bit longer than expected, and baggage claim slowing her down. I take a nap. She arrives, but insists I go ahead to meet people at the restaurant in case they show up. Bunny, Dexter, and I grab an uber there, which only takes 35 minutes and not the expected full hour that anywhere in Beijing often takes. While riding, Bunny gave me her gift: lifting gloves. Nice. I joke that they’re fighting gloves and that she’s trying to recruit me as her enforcer.

Me and 4 Sweet Thangs
Tube Station

The pizza place, Tube Station, is near a sports arena, where Bunny can only name one of the teams that Beijingers are crazy about. a Soccer team, which I didn't bother trying to learn. 
Back to Tube Station: I’m suspicious of the name of the place. What are these tubes? Are we sure we want to eat from them? A pizza isn’t quite tube-like enough for me to see the connection.

A fellow foreigner is working as the host, and has amazing Chinese. Aurora arrives shortly after, and comments on how good the host’s Chinese is. She gives me her gift, which was watercolor pencils, to help with our drawing “competitions.” I may as well be colorblind when it comes to art, I have no idea how colors work. (Please suggest books or resources)

Giant Beer and Overflowing Tables

The table of 4 next to ours has a giant chalice of beer show up. It holds 6. Seems like a good place to start! 

Thor has Landed
(seen on the walk)
Dan and Mary arrive. Mary says her gift was coming, since she almost stayed home out of laziness. Best gift of all! Agatha, The Director, Ryan, and Alex arrive, with Agatha spearheading placing our order. ("Did you hear that guy's Chinese?") We get their 32” pizza and one of their large pizzas. Oh, and some salads... like they matter.

People keep showing up - more than anticipated for our table of 15. Bibi, Silvia, Amanda, Shimou, Bae. ("That guy's Chinese is great!") This is actually a joint celebration for me and Sylvia, since she hadn’t celebrated hers yet from about a week ago.

Going Astray

The plan had been to go to Kokomo for their foam party. Foam parties usually happen at night, from my understanding, but apparently this one had started at 5 and ended at 8:30. They won’t hold our table after 10. We (meaning me) have to rest after all the food and the giant beer. We leave at 10:40 and walk over, temporarily held up by Aurora having to run back in to grab her free glass. Because I had said to plan for a foam party, Agatha didn’t dress to go clubbing, meaning she, The Director, Alex, and Ryan also weren’t going, opting to relax at the restaurant. 

"Waterloo?! Waterloo!"
This is San Li Tun [San lee tune/twarr]
At least... that’s what I understood. The one glass of beer may have been affecting me at that point. Such a low tolerance - only one glass!

Flashing Signs Ignored

We parade over to the bar area, Sylvia and I wearing flashing crowns. Hers was blue, mine was pink. Strangely, I felt like people were looking at me less than they do normally. On our way through San Li Tun, a random guy walked up to me and said “Waterloo? Waterloo!” and we high-fived. He recognized my shirt being the one from the well-known university dive bar, Phil’s. Represent!

The Artiste
"Slowly" Sinking Sobriety

Kokomos is a rooftop bar with an island theme. Keeping the liquor flowing, Bae bought me a martini, and Dexter tossed me a whiskey and coke. Bae also provided 5 shots for us to hand out. The Chinese friends that came say their tolerance is very low (1-2 drinks) so it’s up to us Westerners. I take 2. I thought I had brought more money than ¥75, so I can only get one drink: The Funky Buddha. The time frame of these drinks is actually more spread out than this, but it was typical chatting and dancing around in a club while drinking the drinks. I also don’t remember the content of most of the conversations.

Making Conversation

Dan is drawing at a small, round table across from a middle-aged Chinese woman who is patiently observing him. I ask her if she speaks English, and she says she doesn’t, both in Mandarin and in English. I say “wǒ bù shūo zhōngwén!(I don’t speak chinese!) and she calls over her friend who does speak English. I don’t remember what the conversation was about, but it was amicable. He seemed interested to carry the conversation, but I ended up deflecting him onto Aurora at one point. I wander when drinking.

The Crookedness on this shot was not
on purpose, but fits the atmosphere and mood.
Aging Night

At some point, Bae left for another birthday party, then Dan and Mary left, leaving Bunny, Bibi, Shimou, Dexter, Me, Aurora and Silvia at the bar, shaking our thangs. This was the core dancing group where we shimmied and we shaked, oh ho, we can’t fake, we’re on top.. of this building. If you don’t get the bad grammar reference, check out this song.

Get down to the top 100 music, some of which was latin music. I vaguely remember doing the basic salsa step with Bunny at one point, knowing she likes that type of music. We leave, I think, around 2am. Just before taking off, I search for this Arabic guy who had been friendly with us. He deserved my crown. I can’t find him, and give it to a random guy, who, for whatever reason, accepts it gladly.

Dexter, Shimou, Silvia and I grab a cab and the night comes to a close. Cake By The Ocean.

Words of the Day
English - Mandarin [pronunciation]
pīsā or bǐsà
[pee-sah / bee-sah]

Editing Music
Future Generations

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