We met in the park this morning. I was the big white girl in spandex running pants. You were the middle-aged Chinese dude with the camera.
I was stretching.
You were taking photos of the water lilies.
And then at some point you stopped taking pictures of the water lilies and just started taking pictures of me.
That was… umm… what’s-the-word… awkward.
But I figured you would stop soon. You’d just go back to taking photos of the water lilies. And I could go back to pretending that didn’t just happen.
But you didn’t stop, did you?
Even when I looked up at you and scowled. And even when I hid behind that big pillar. I know because I peeked out at one point from behind the pillar, and you were still taking pictures of me.
Maybe a photo would help jog your memory.
Remember me, now?First of all, let me say that I understand.
I mean, I get it.
I get you.
I take photos of complete strangers doing crazy stuff all the time.
Like last week when I went to the Oriental Pearl Tower and saw people doing stuff like this:
And then there was that time I ran into a Power Ranger at the beach. I mean, how could I not take a picture of that?
And, every time I see a couple wearing matching outfits, I’m just going to have to take a photo. Especially if that couple is wearing totally classy, hand-painted t-shirts like these:And, well, I have to admit that as far as crazy people doing crazy stuff goes, I’m probably pretty up there.
After all, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of white girls in this town. Let alone big white girls in spandex running pants.
And not only was I wearing spandex running pants, I was also wearing my bionic knee brace and the little pink hip pack thing that I wear when I go running. And, yes, I realize I look dorky and like I’m taking this running thing a bit too seriously. Especially for someone who runs as slowly as I do. But I’d really rather my knee not explode, and I kind of need some place to put my keys, okay?
And I’ll admit that I really don’t know what I’m doing when I’m stretching, so that probably made me look even a few more noodles short of lo mein, if you know what I mean. I’m always like, “Okay, let’s warm up the hamstrings. Wait. Where are the hamstrings again?” And then I give up and just start flailing around for five minutes.
So, yeah, I get it.
I was a total Kodak moment.But, seriously, dude, you were not cool.
Not cool at all.
Couldn’t you at least do that thing where you act like you’re messing with the dials on your camera? Or that thing where you act like you’re checking the photos you just took? But you’re actually, you know, taking photos of me?
I’d be cool with that.
Or you could have pretended you were taking pictures of something behind me or next to me or whatever. You could have been like, “Ooo, look at that tree. That’s an awesome tree. I’m just going to take lots of pictures of that tree. Don’t mind me, White Girl.”I do these sneaky photo-taking moves all the time.
And, take it from me, they totally work!
I mean, I live in China where I’m faced with photo-worthy opportunities all the live-long day. But my cell phone is this super cheap, Stone Age number that I picked up in Malaysia over two years ago.
It doesn’t have anything fancy like a camera, so anytime I run into a Power Ranger and I really need to take a picture, I can’t just do the super stealthy move where I pretend I’m texting while I’m actually taking a picture. This is what I used to do all the time in Japan when I had a cell phone that was actually made in this century.
Instead, these days, I have to kick it old school and use my actual camera. But I still try to, you know, be cool about it and pretend I’m not totally taking photos of strangers to put on my blog. Because that would just be creepy, you know?I don’t know why you annoyed me as much as you did, dude. It’s not as if I’m not used to having people take my photo.
In fact, I kind of welcome people taking my photo. Because usually I’m the type of person who would feel really bad about taking photos of complete strangers and posting them on the Internets.
But after a year and a half of living in China and having countless strangers take my picture, I don’t feel so bad anymore. I figure it all evens out. Heck, for all I know, my photo has been plastered all over a thousand Chinese people’s blogs.And, hey, it’s not as if I don’t like a little attention.
I mean, I write a blog that is almost entirely about myself.
I love attention!
I live for attention!
That is when I even notice the attention I get. I usually don’t even see the people staring at me or taking my photographs. This is just one of the perks of being totally self-involved. That and never having to buy anyone a birthday present because you can never remember when anyone’s birthday is.
Plus, I’m pretty used to the attention by now. I’ve lived in Asia for over six years. Staring at the freaky white girl can be a pretty popular pastime in this part of the world.
So, yeah, usually it doesn’t bother me.But today was different.
Today I wanted to go for a morning run in my neighborhood park – the same park that I’ve run in for the past year and a half.
I wanted to do the route that I know by heart – the one where I know exactly which planks on the wooden walkways are spongey and should be avoided.
I wanted to wave at the groundskeeper who always waves at me.
I wanted my routine.
Because in less than a week, I will no longer have a routine. Or a home. Or a neighborhood park. I won’t know which wooden planks are spongey or which groundskeeper will cheer for me when he sees me pass by.
Today, I wanted to feel like I belonged here.
Because, the funny thing is I do feel like I belong here. Even though I don’t look like I belong. Or sound like I belong. Or act like I belong.
This place I’ve called home for the past year and a half has been my home. And I’m sad as hell to leave. Even though I’m super excited to be moving on.But it’s hard to feel like you belong when you have someone pointing his camera all up in your face, you know?
Instead, I felt like I’d been tele-ported in from some other planet. Where all the big ladies like to rock out spandex pants and bionic knees. (Which, mind you, sounds like a super awesome planet that I’m sure everyone would totally want to visit, am I right or am I right?)
So, dude, if you happen to see me in the park again over the next couple of days before I leave, all I ask is that you pretend to take pictures of the trees. Even if you’re totally taking pictures of me.
And I’ll pretend I actually know where my hamstrings are.
Deal?Do you ever take photos of strangers without their permission? When is it cool? When is it not cool?