But, I’ll have you know, I do have my suitors.
It’s just that I tend to attract a certain type. This type varies from country to country. But, unfortunately, this type is never my type.For example, in Japan, I always seemed to be a hit among the septuagenarian crowd.
If I entered a bar and there were any men over seventy in that bar, they would instantly vie to sit next to me. And, trust me, you haven’t seen a bar fight until you’ve seen canes and false teeth involved.
Once, while I was on a hike in Sapporo, a wizened old man popped out of the woods to tell me that I was pretty and ask me if I wanted to go home with him.
Another time, while I was running a race, a man who could not have been a day younger than eighty insisted we hold hands while we ran over the finish line together.
I always figured it was my classic beauty attracting these guys – maybe I just reminded them of some movie starlet from the olden days.
Or maybe they just like their ladies sturdy-looking, like they’re capable of pushing a wheelchair or two.
While I was never tempted by these men’s advances, I can’t say I wasn’t flattered. I mean, who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? Especially when that gift horse is telling me that I’m pretty?In China, I tend to attract a different type – specifically, the unmetered taxi driver type.
You see, my neighborhood is teeming with unmetered taxi cab drivers – men (and a few plucky women), who have a car and a dream.
And, admittedly, a healthy disregard for The Man as, technically, this line of work is illegal here. But, hey, it’s China, where it pays to be a lawless cowboy.
Taking a ride with one of these men kind of feels like you’re taking a ride with your good-natured, next door neighbor – that is if you’re good-natured, next door neighbor drove like a maniac, didn’t speak a word of English and had a habit of hitting on you.Because, not to brag or anything, these guys hit on me a lot.
Almost every time I take an unmetered taxi ride, the driver will ply me with his business card and insist I call him.
Seeing as I don’t speak much Chinese, I’m not entirely sure what I would say to the guy if I did call him. How do you say, “Hey, remember me? We met in your car?” in Mandarin?
He’ll usually insist I sit in the front seat next to him, and then he gets offended if I attempt to put on a seat belt. As if I’ve somehow questioned his driving ability and his manhood all at the same time.
One time, my friends and I got into an unmetered cab with a driver who had techno music blaring from his dashboard. As soon as he saw me, the driver grabbed my hand and started dancing with me. While he was driving at top speed. And I was sitting in the back seat.
It was a little bit awkward, but I went with it.
Meanwhile, I don’t get the same reaction from the drivers of metered taxis. I’d like to think this is because I have a tendency to attract the bad boy, law-breaking type.
But I suspect it might have something to do with these:
You see, all the metered taxis in Wuxi have metal bars surrounding the drivers. A language barrier is one thing. But metal bars? These would make it really hard to flirt.
I tend to be more flattered and entertained by the playful advances of my local unmetered taxi drivers rather than offended. As I said before, I try not to look a gift horse in the mouth. Especially if that gift horse is asking me to dance. Because I’ll pretty much take any opportunity to dance.But, after a few incidents recently, I’m starting to think I might be giving these guys the wrong idea.
Last Friday, I was going into town to meet up with my friend, Fiona, who lives in Shanghai and was taking time out of her busy food photographer of the year finalist schedule to check out the many wonders of Wuxi.
As I was already running quite late to meet her, I opted to take a taxi into town instead of the bus. The road in front of the campus where I live is usually swarming with unmetered taxi drivers, so I didn’t figure this would be a problem. But, on that day, when I hurried out to look for one, there was only one lone driver – standing next to his car, grinning at me.
Maybe fate brought us together.
Or maybe it was just a busy Friday in Wuxi.
Either way, it felt meant to be.
Or, at least, he must have taken it that way.Things started out pretty normal.
I showed him a slip of paper with the Chinese characters for the place I needed to go and jumped into the front seat. I attempted to strap myself in with the seat belt while he insisted I didn’t need it and sped off in the direction of downtown.
During the thirty-minute ride into the city center, he would chatter away in Chinese. Every once in a while, I would catch some words I knew like “American” and “pretty.” To which, I would respond enthusiastically with the only words I knew, like “Yes! American! Good!” and “Thank you! Pretty! You’re welcome!”
But, for the most part, I had no clue what he was saying, so I would just kind of nod along and smile.
In hindsight, I realize this might have been the wrong tactic to take. This is kind of a dangerous thing to do when you have no idea what someone is saying. It’s possible he thought I was agreeing with whatever he was saying. He might have been asking me if I wanted to be his wife. Or his mistress. Or his dungeon slave.
And then, he said in English, “I love you.”
And, a few minutes later, “Kiss me.”I have to say I was a bit alarmed.
Our relationship was moving fast – really fast.
Meanwhile, the car was not.
He kept pulling the car over to the side of the road so he could punch some word or phrase into his phone translator and then show the English translation to me.
He would regularly slow down to look me pointedly in the eyes and tell me something in Chinese. Possibly a line from some ancient, romantic, Chinese poem. Or suggestions for meals he’d like me to cook for him once I become his wife.
At one point, he stopped in the middle of traffic so he could snap a picture of me on his camera phone.
I started to suspect he was doing all this just so he could prolong the drive and spend more time with me.I couldn’t help being a bit flattered and impressed by the man. Even if he was making me really, really late. And increasing my chances of being involved in a fiery car crash.
I mean, he wasn’t about to let little things like a language barrier or traffic get in the way of his expressing his feelings for me. How could I begrudge the guy a little extra time with me?
This was possibly one of the best relationships I’ve had in years.
Okay, maybe I haven’t had a relationship in years.
I didn’t kiss him, but I did take a picture of the two of us on my camera. After all, it’s entirely possible I’ve agreed to marry the guy. I’ll need a photo of my future husband to show my folks.The following day, I grabbed a ride home from the grocery store with another unmetered taxi driver.
As he was driving, he chattered at me in Chinese and kept on making a gesture with his thumbs that looked like he was playing a video game. But, from the way he was looking at me and grinning, I had a feeling this wasn’t the gesture for, “Let’s go play video games together.”
And then he patted his stomach and asked the word, “Baby?”
Maybe he was just asking me if I had a baby.
But it kind of felt like he was asking me if I wanted to have his baby.
Either way, I wasn’t willing to find out.
When we showed up at the gate of the campus where I live, I gave him the fare and quickly bustled out of the car with my groceries.
After that, I vowed to start taking the bus more. People on the bus never make questionable gestures at me or ask me if I want to have their baby.
Besides, I should probably stop gallivanting around town with other unmetered taxi cab drivers. My future husband looks like he might be the jealous type.Do you have a tendency to attract the wrong type? Or maybe you have some tips on how I can start attracting the right type? Share them. Please!