So John was in town with his folks over the weekend, and I had the pleasure of hanging out with him while his parents and wife visited the Forbidden City. John was quite understandably unenthused at the prospect of visiting the Forbidden City a third time. It may have been the seat of power for hundreds of years, but the imperial city now is a sadly diminished thing, flooded with hawkers, stalls selling instant noodles, and tour groups domestic and foreign. The city is laid out along a strict grid pattern, and after a while you get to feeling – in the words of Poagao – like you’re walking around a gigantic DOOM level. (The Forbidden City would make for an awesome game map, particularly when you consider that it was suppoedly designed to represent the five viscera of the god Nezha. But more on that, maybe, in another post.)
Anyway, so John bailed on that and we got coffee and bought pirated Playstation 2 games near my place. His wife’s family had arranged a private driver for their stay in Beijing over the weekend, so he called the driver to come pick him up. As we stood waiting on the corner of Jiaodaokou, a young couple approached us.
Shit, I thought. It’s going to be an ‘art student’ scam, or they’ll be touts for one of the godawful new bars near here, or something. I haven’t gotten harassed in years, and it has to happen now? Now John’ll never believe that Beijing is ten times the city Shanghai is!
The girl asked, in shy English, what we were doing. I replied, in English calculated to be polite without encouraging further conversation, that we were waiting for John’s friend’s car.
“Oh,” she said, and giggled nervously, looking over at her boyfriend.
“Um,” he said. “Where are you from?”
“The US,” I said. Jesus, English Corner flashback.
“Ah,” he said. “Are you…Christian?”
“No,” I said.
“Um. Ah — would — would you like to be?”
“No,” I said. “But thanks.”
“Ah,” he said. “God…bless you.”
“Thanks,” I said. “Take care.”
And the two of them walked off down Andingmen Nei.
Worst. Missionaries. Ever.