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Tonight I was “set up” by my friend here in China. The night before, I said I would take them (“Tim” and his daughter, “Katie”) out to dinner since I wanted to show my appreciation for his role in the purchasing of my motorbike. At 7:30, we arrive at the restaurant, enter: two twentysomething girls (Formerly Katie’s teachers). Halfway through the dinner, Tim leans over to me and says “You should get her phone number and address. This is the second time we have been out together, and I think you should ask.”

I don’t know where to start on why I should not attempt to get this girl’s number or address, so this list will have to do:

1. I don’t recall ever having dinner with her prior to this occasion

2. She hasn’t said a word to me (which might be the reason I don’t remember any “prior occasion”)

3. She hasn’t said a word of English, and doesn’t appear to speak much

4. I don’t know her name since we have not been introduced

5. Tim has not indicated which one of them I am supposed to ask

6. When he does indicate which one it is, it’s not the cute one

After repeatedly telling Tim that I will ask for her number “another time,” Katie, after a whisper from Tim, approaches not-the-cute-one and requests the number for me, as if I asked.

You KNOW I have to share this with someone, so I drop by classroom 4A after I get back to the school. This class has the prettiest girls in it, which is why I stop in so often, I confess. I begin to tell them my story, and the topic somehow segues into dating in America and what it’s like.

Previously, I had been warned about speaking on such topics, but I am not one to heed warnings, thusly, Patrick commenced throwing caution to the wind (and apparently, referring to himself in the third person). At the end of the month, I would still like to be employed here, so I decided to use vague terms and let them figure it out.

“Dating is all about expectations;” I said, “in America, you expect certain things to happen on a date.” At precisely the end of that sentence, the class positively erupted, as they jumped to the conclusion that on the average first date in the states, we’re rounding third by 11PM. I went on to explain it a little more accurately, and that degrees of intimacy (usually) accelerate in non-definable “stages.” Below is my visual rendition of the intricacies of a relationship in America versus that of one spawned by any two young citizens of the People’s Republic:

I think they got the picture.

Note: I have the number, but I’m not one to fill my nights with a string of little black arcs.

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