Don’t die of shock now, but Helen and Carlos started going out. (see previous chapter for reference)
We introduced Carlos to Lukas, sparks flew, and the rest is history. The two of them are now starring in their own buddy romance movie coming to a theatre near you.
Carlos’ roommate and his girlfriend soon joined our friend circle. The roommate is an Asian American guy named Will. The two of them got on well because Carlos liked to lead and Will preferred to follow. I also got along with Will because I like to make fun of him, and he doesn’t cry when I do.
Will’s girlfriend is Shanghainese but lived in Australia most of her life. The first thing I noticed is that she had serious “Feeg Face”.
Same as “Resting bitch-face”; coined after my friend Feegs, due to her exceptional ability to come off as cold and unfriendly.
Fortunately, from experience with Feegs, I knew that first impressions can be unreliable. Many people who appear standoffish at first turn out to be extremely genuine. They cannot fake friendliness towards strangers, but once you get to know them, they become big cuddly teddy bears.
With that in mind, I introduced myself, and gave her a look that said “You don’t know it yet, but you and I are gonna be best friends!”
She gave me a look that said “Stop staring at me creep” then stayed 50 feet away from me all night.
And that’s how I met Ronnie, one of my favorite people from Shanghai. If I could import anything from China, I’d import her.
Of course we didn’t become BFFs until much later. Right now she is just Will’s GF, like Lucy is just Lukas’ GF. God, if only I could abbreviate everything, this story would go much quicker…Oh well, WTH! YOLO TGIF Amirite!!!
Although I met countless people through Carlos and Helen (The Kevin Bacons of Shanghai), my innermost friend circle consist of Helen & Carlos, Lukas & Lucy, Will & Ronnie. Oh and me, the single, odd duck out.
Not that I minded being the 7th wheel. It was always my dream to live in a big city, with a tightknit group of twenty-something men and women as friends, and develop codependent relationships. I wonder if it has anything to do with my obsession with the TV show Friends. Or as they call it in China “六人行” (The adventures of 6 people). Seven is close enough. I shall just create a new character for myself called Yolanda!
So Yolanda and Gang would hangout every weekend. Except instead of a coffee shop, we hung out at Carlo’s massive condo. We’d have Mexican nights with burritos and margaritas, Japanese nights with Sushi and Sake. We’d also have movie nights such as the Home Alone marathon, and they introduced me to Barbie sex through Team America.
Being in Shanghai after all, we would go out most Fridays and Saturdays. Expats like to party by first hitting up a Teppanyaki. Which are “All you can eat AND DRINK” Japanese buffets for 200kuai or $30. Foreigners like to get sloshed on Sake Bombs (Beer and Sake) then go Karaoke or a club like Muse, Muse 2, or Muse on the Bund.
Can you imagine doing all that in North America? It’d cost you an arm and leg! Literally if you are on a teacher’s salary in Canada. “I poor. I teacher. Take my leg instead.”
I remember the first time I went to some Italian expat’s birthday party in a club, people were spraying eachother with champagne. I was horrified. “Stop!!!” I’d yell “That’s an expensive brand!!!” Next thing you know, I’m the one on the bar spraying champagne.
Ok not really, because I firmly believe that “Thou shall not waste alcohol”.
Aside from eat, drink and party “like a Bawse”, we also took weekend trips out of town. There was the watertown Zhujiajiao, aka. The Venice of Shanghai.
Wuxi- For their famous xiaolongbaos (mini steamed buns).
My mom would call on the weekends, only to catch me on the way out on some other adventure with my new pals.
“Sorry mom, can’t talk! In a rush!”
“Sorry mom, in the middle of a game, it’s my turn!”
“What? Who? I can’t hear you! Too loud in here!”
“Who are these new friends of yours?” She asked when she finally got ahold of me.
“Oh mom, they are so awesome! We have so much fun!” I’d gush on and on.
“Ok…I guess as long as you’re happy. Just be careful though, not everyone is as good as they first appear.” She’d say in an ominous tone.
“Oh mom” I’d roll my eyes “You worry too much!”