Chapter 20- Carlos the Playa

Not Carlos (image from
Not Carlos (image from

So far lot of names are being thrown around in this blog, but the main ones you need to know for now are Helen, Lukas and Lucy. Don’t be overwhelmed, but I’m going to slowly introduce more characters.

Being as considerate as always, I have created a Character Glossary (See menu above) that you could easily refer to if ever confused. I will also create a “Sparksnotes” summary of each of year, in case you haven’t read all chapters. But you should. It will be on the exam.

Without further ado, let me introduce an important character, the “Ringleader” of our Shanghai friends’ group. Let’s call him Carlos.

I first met Carols through Helen. She invited him to join us for dinner one night.

“He’s not a good guy.” was her description of him.

“So…why did you invite him?” I asked the obvious question.

“Because he keeps asking me to hang out.”


She continued, “I think he likes me.”


“But I’m not sure how I feel.”

I think she would spill all her secrets if I just continue to stare at her in silence…

Of course she went on to tell me how she met him, and his continuous advances.

“But I’m not sure if he’s a good guy.” She concluded.

Sounded to me like the classic I-want-to-go-out-with-him-but-I’m-not-sure-so-I’m-gonna-get-a-second-opinion. And by second opinion, I mean someone to agree with her.

“Ok well, let me meet him first before I judge him harshly.”

Based on her description I pictured a giant slime ball of a man that says things like “Did it hurt when you fell from heaven?” As always, it was the exact opposite of my imaginations.

Carlos was a slightly short and stocky white guy from the US. If he didn’t tell me, I never would have guessed his Mexican background.

“Hi, nice to meet you.” He said as he tried to shake my hand. The nerve!!!

We talked as we walked to our destination. He didn’t seem least bit like the player she speculated him to be. Granted, she did say that her assumption was that all North American males are players.

Carlos told us that he’s been in shanghai for a year. His dad owns a steel business here and sent him to oversee the Chinese operations. Ok, so he comes from money. Still, I can’t just assume he’s an ass.

Carlos suggested that we go to Windows bar on Nanjing road because it’s the closest. Windows are a chain that sells extremely cheap food and the beer are the equivalent of $3. Never get the hard liquor though, it’s rumored to be fake and will give you the worst hangover.

I’ve been to Windows Too (that’s the name) before but not this one.

This Windows was on like the 10th floor of some building. On the way up, two teenage girls were in the elevator with us. This was their conversation:

Girl 1- “Do you think they will let us in since we’re 15?”

Girl 2- “Don’t worry, we totally look 21!”

They looked 12.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the expat kids of Shanghai.

I went to the bar’s bathroom once we arrived, and there were about three more North American teenagers. No four, because one guy was in the stalls throwing up. (Yes, the women’s washroom stalls.)  One girl was wearing the shortest miniskirt but clearly underage and clearly drunk. She was crying about some boy while her equally young friends comforted her. “Oh my God, but I like him so much, I can’t believe he…” *Sob sob. Something incoherent*

Aren’t you glad we have grown out of that phase by now? Phew…

I did my business as quickly as I could, and left to tell Helen and Carlos what I just witnessed.

We joked that someone should really make a reality TV-show called “The Real Expat Kids of Shanghai”.

The more we talked the more I felt that Carlos was just a normal guy. He was easy going and fun to be around. I didn’t notice him coming on to Helen the way she described, but maybe it was because I was there. We ordered food and drinks as more people joined. Carlos invited his roommate, and Helen invited a bunch of her ex-coworkers.

Overall, the night was extremely enjoyable. We played pooled and joked more about the expat scene in Shanghai.

At the end of the night, Helen asked me “So what do you think of Carlos?”

“He seems nice.” Was all I said.

A big smile came across her face. I’m guessing she got the answer she wanted.


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