"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Wei Ni hao

The fact that I can laugh about this now--AND share it is pretty unbelievable, since at the time, I do recall this situation being quite painful. But, after my blog post yesterday, a friend (a smart assed one) contacted me to say--c'mon, Andrew--surely you would undo THAT one!!!!

Now, a nicer, more enlightened blogger would change the names of those involved, but seeing as I am dealing with the subject of LYING, I will use his real name. (plus I think only a dozen people read this anyway).

OK, so let us go back in time a little bit--this was before I had moved everywhere--I was still living in NC. Some friends of mine set me up with a very cute boy named Andrew in about 1995 I think. The funny thing is, I was set up on a blind date with him, and we doubled with the friends who had set us up. We go to a party together, and Andrew proceeds to ignore me all night. OK, note to self: THIS should have been a warning. Actually, the three of us left watching him ignoring me were laughing (them apologizing) and thinking that was that.

Imagine my surprise when he asked for my number the next day. (did I mention he was cute?) Somehow, this inauspicious start ended up morphing into a year long dating relationship. (ok, really cute). His family was kind of wealthy--more the country club set- his mother did not approve of me because I once played football with him and his buddies in the yard. And, the whole time I knew Andrew, he was taking Mandarin Chinese language lessons. And to his credit, he picked up the language really fast. He had always wanted to go to China.

So, after a year into our relationship, he applied for a program to go teach English to children in China. I had moved to Atlanta by this point--we were doing a long distance relationship. To my credit, I offered to step aside before he left for China--telling him if he wanted to go over there "unfettered" as it were--I totally understood. He was shocked that I would even suggest such a thing. Needed me- he said, wanted me. Well, hello Andrew.

The plan was for him to be in China for six months.

So, he was getting more shots than I would ever dare to, getting prepared to leave, and we were spending as much time together as possible. Somehow, I found the time to put together a huge care package, send it a month in advance to where he was going to be in some rural area of China, so it would be waiting for him when he got there.

OK, so fast forward to him already in China. Lots of phone bills, finally an email connection. Lots of professions of love or something like it. His mother, I think, hoping this would break us up--images of me playing football in the yard-- haunting her.

Usually when I would call, there was one main phone someone would answer and then go and get the intended recipient. Whoever answered always said "Wei Ni hao" (sounds like Way-nee-ha). Now, if you look up hello in Chinese, the translation is just "Ni hao". But they added the Wei on there, trust me. I am guessing it was a regional thing, or something else.

So after he had been there two months or so--he had gotten his own room with his own phone. I called him about 2am his time, which was the time we usually chatted. So--I call--the long pause--the buzzing ring. Then, an Asian female (sleepy) voice picks up. "Wei Ni hao?"

Thinking I must have misdialed, and thinking I don't know how to say ANYTHING in Mandarin, I just said something like--"Sorry, wrong number--trying to reach Andrew".

Well, Andrew, she understood.

"Who calls Andrew? Who calls Andrew?!?!?!?"

Then, I heard Andrew, suddenly very awake in the background...."hang up! hang up!"

Hmmmmm. Nice.

Then, the best part, and the part that makes me laugh now....about 2 minutes later...my phone rings!

Me: Um, hello.

Andrew: Hey there.

Me: Um, something you want to tell me?

Andrew: About what?

Yeah, seriously, he was trying to play this off. And the hilarious thing now, is that somewhere, in the background were the muffled Asian, angry cries of the other woman. I don't know--locked in the bathroom? The closet maybe?

No need to tell you the rest really. He did finally own up to the woman in the room as a "sick housekeeper" who needed to rest for a little bit in his room. I am NOT kidding.

And the rest of the story goes like this: He stayed there I think for three years, ended up marrying a woman from there and having a child with her. Not sure if it was the "housekeeper" or not. Not sure how his mom felt about all that, either.

One of the funniest things I remember from all of this was actually the next day after the phone call. Of course, being my young, stupid self, I was distraught, not understanding HOW this could be happening. I was talking to my friend Kathryn. We were at lunch, I was sniffling, relaying the whole story to her. Without flinching, without pausing, Kathryn looks right at me and says, "Wow, Andrew had a tough night."

I was shocked--I said "ANDREW had a tough night?"

Kathryn: "Yeah, I mean, you lost ONE person, he might have lost TWO. Geez. Where is YOUR perspective?"

And in the middle of my tears, I laughed until I snorted. I love my crazy, sarcastic, girlfriends. Deeply.

So, no, I wouldn't change that, all of it, not even Stupid Andrew. Besides, a few years later, I wrote a little storybook for one of the kids of the couple who set me up. I used photos of people we all knew as characters in the book. I cut the photos out and added hats and whatnot to them. And the little story rhymed, and had some funny twists.

But our favorite part of the book, all of us, I think, is the character of the village idiot, "played" by Andrew. He only makes a brief appearance, but it is memorable.

And yeah, I learned from it. And cried. And laughed.
All good.


Cassandra August 24, 2008 at 3:32 PM  

I have a great suggestion for the idiot in your next book....

Cheri Pryor August 29, 2008 at 3:24 AM  

Cassandra...he would be the King of the village of idiots, not just a common idiot.

I love this story, especially you snorting while in tears. I'm imagining snot...

Paula... September 1, 2008 at 7:22 AM  

What a story and what a JERK!

Anonymous,  January 19, 2010 at 12:06 AM  

It is very funny story, especially when I read with the point that the author has moved on and can laugh about it. Well, world is made of all kinds of weirdos, but I never understand why would someone want to date two people at the same time? Isn't dating just one taxing enough?

Anyhow, I am here though my google search for Wei, Ni Hao. :) Yup, "Wei" also means hi/hello. It is a colloquial greeting. Some people combine it with a more formal Ni Hao.

You have a good day. Let me go n read some more posts now. :)


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