The summer 2003. One weekend Yishi summoned group of her Qinghua friends, we marched to the countryside, eight families in six cars. As we were driving, my children saw more high-rise buildings. ChangPing used to be a remote area to us, the city slickers, now a part of Beijing landscape. There were skeletons of street vendors selling peaches.
“I bet they bought the peach from the city to sell here.” Wang commentedThere were some farmlands, but patchy. I forgot the resort name. The hotel was adequate. The amenities included an indoor tennis court (carpet), small swimming pool – I only remembered those two, since that’s all I cared and used. The tennis court looked clubby, dark and felt seldom used. The court fee was astronomical, US$32 per hour. With that, you get two lazy ball girls who dressed to the tee but didn’t nothing. The manager didn’t like my Ked sneakers, insisted that would damage their court surface, made me rent a pair of sneaker for 5 RMB.
The swimming pool was ok, although small, was about US$8 per day.
That night, we had dinner at the village, obviously. The shack was ok, looked the part, one story with outer and inner courtyard. Looked like a formed living quarter, without a main dinner hall, all small rooms, perhaps the bedrooms. The savvy lady who served us was pretty sleek. No makeup, non-nonsense with a short haircut. Just like any working girl you’d found on the streets of Manhattan. Her black jacket looked like from Ann Taylor (it was July), simple and profession. A ball pen was hanging on her neck. We decided to have the hot pot of games, plus few suggestions she made. I couldn’t pin down her accent. Her exchange with us was short and terse. Was she hiding something, or running away from someone/thing? Bad teeth.
Kids had a field day. We seemed the only diners there. So kids had run of the place. From the courtyard, to the dinning rooms – they dined in another room since each room was so small ..
The food .. .. the hotpot tasted great, but the games were over cooked, chewy. ..
That night, we played baifen.
Sorry it’s been six years since, but Irene still remembered this incident:
Six of us played with two decks of cards. Two wives with four husbands. Irene was kind of slow and put down an extra card in the base. Now, as a good sportsman, I would or any of my girlfriends who play with me often, would inform me regardless of being my partner or opponents because we all want a good game that being played fairly.
When the hand was depleted to the last round did Irene realize she was one card short.
One of the husbands who I found very cocky laughed with triumphal,
“I saw you put that extra card down.” He said, taking pleasure in my misfortune.
“Really? Why didn’t you tell me?” I asked.
“Why should I tell you?” He retorted.
He did have a point.
During one of his seven wins in France, Lance Armstrong waited for his closest competitor who falls off the bike to get back on before racing again.
Ok, I wasn’t dealing with world class. But was it my fault for always hoping for?