Twas the Night Before Xmas in China
Totally Awesome Picture of the Week 54*
A Visit from the Earplugs and Beer Man
‘Twas the night before Xmas and all through the city,
Not a whore was motionless, not even the un-pretty.
The sausages hung from the wires with care,
In hopes that Sheng Dan Lao Ren soon would be there.
The foreigners were huddled all cold in their beds,
While visions of elsewhere danced in their heads.
And the fighting couple and howling cat,
Had just settled in to a droning racket.
When out in the bike park there arose such a clatter,
I rolled from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I shuffled like a fool,
Knowing whatever it was wouldn’t be cool.
The street lamp on the frost of the old rotting trash,
Gave the luster of midnight to the gutter’s AM stash.
When, what to my tired eyes should appear,
But a cart piled high with earplugs and beer!
The little old puller, clothes layered on thick,
I knew in a moment that it might be a trick.
Too good to be true, I thought to myself,
As I inspected the now resting, dirty, bent elf.
In spite of my doubts, I called out to him,
Hey mister, for all of it, duo shao qian?
His eyes – how they twinkled! His voice – so pure!
His fingers trembled, everything – lao wai, are you sure?
The stump of a smoke held tight in rotting teeth,
Released clouds like a dragon from the man beneath.
His face was slender and coated in stubble,
With hands all scraped, swollen, and reeking of trouble.
I nodded my head – yes, that is correct.
With those words his back became erect.
A grin grew slowly from cheek to cheek,
I yawned and hoped he’d answer this week.
Ok, lao wai, I’ll give you a bargain,
And he began spewing his salesman jargon.
Stop! I yelled. Cut to the chase!
Then I knew what to do from the look on his face.
Er bai wu! I offered, knowing it to be crazy,
From there, the night gets a little hazy.
I lowered a basket and brought up the gear,
And when I paid him the money the grin stretched to his ears.
He couldn’t thank me enough as I returned to my room,
A beer or two later he came back with a boom.
Baijiu and fireworks! He yelled with glee,
Demanding I come to the street to see.
So the night carried on well into the morn,
And somehow, sometime, my jacket was torn.
All I remember of his final goodbye,
Is, “Happy Xmas to all, and to all a lao wai!”
*This is a seasonal repost originally written and posted on Christmas eve 2008.