100 Pounds of Jolly

100 pounds is an estimate. He’s decidedly obese, but more decidedly short. It’s hard to know for sure.

He’s the guy who owns the convenience store in my apartment complex, and I adore him. I don’t think I’ve mentioned him before. He never wears shirts.

My first conversation with him went something like this, as I was stopping by for a beer after working overtime until midnight:

“You’re up late.”
“So are you.”
“Just get off work? You must work pretty hard.”
“Not as hard as you. I’m off work, and your shop is still open.”
“Me? I was just waiting for you. As soon as you’re gone, I’m closing up.”
“That’s very kind of you.”
“My pleasure.”

Lighthearted facetiousness! Not something easily come by in Beijing.

The second went something like this:

“You’re early today. Not so busy anymore?”
“Still busy, but I’m gonna work at home. I just didn’t want you to wait for me.”
“That’s kind of you.”
“My pleasure.”

If this seems quite ordinary to you, that’s probably because you’re used to being around people who are able to suspend disbelief for the three seconds necessary to sustain a joking banter. I, on the other hand, have been craving it.

Me starting this time:

“Autumn is officially starting today.”
“Why do you say that?”
“You’re actually wearing a shirt!”
“I know! I’m not used to it.”

Five minutes ago, I found him sitting shirtless and red-face drunk, his wife behind him with a worried look on her face. When I put my coffee on the counter, he looked at me with real anger in his eyes and growled:

“Stupid cunts.* You know who suffers in war? The people. Why do they always talk about war? They don’t have to fight it. It’s the people who suffer. It’s the same in your country, yeah? The politicians just hide. Stupid cunts. There is no need for war.”

A genuinely delightful man, 100 pounds of jolly. At least.

*Though not politically correct, everyone says this. Everyone. Nobody sees it as being sexist. Not saying it isn’t, just saying you shouldn’t see this guy as especially misogynist.

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