I was elated yesterday when I added my 325th Face book friend: Chicago’s Walking Man.
He’s this guy also known as the 70’s Man, sporting a seventies style suit, Marshal
Sam McCloud hair style, bushy mustache plus a gold chain swinging over an
unbuttoned shirt. You usually see him on Michigan Avenue or Wacker Drive by the
cab stands. Everyone knows who he is, but no one knows his story. He’s just one
of Chicago’s landmarks—make that mand-marks– that’ll never make a postcard,
just like Wrigley’s Ronnie Woo Woo and the Grumbling Streetwise Guy.
Kunming doesn’t have a Walking Man that I know of,
but my neighborhood– Hu Pan Zhi Meng Xiao Qu–does have a few oddities of its
own. You don’t know their stories, but you know ‘em when you see ‘em. Snapping
their photos is as impossible as capturing a picture of Big Foot on film. Trust
me, they do exist. Here are a few of our imfamous roaming residents:
The Opera Singer with the Golden Retriever
If you’ve never seen him, you’ve probably heard
him. He looks normal enough, but this middle age Chinese guy wanders around
hitting notes that could shatter glass. Is he singing opera lyrics or the words
to an after shave jingle? Who knows. Opera Singer is accompanied by his golden
retriever, who must be loyal or deaf. You can hear the Opera Singer
mid-mornings in around the pond in Area 3.
Clapping Morning Walker
This guy is big on Chinese standards, looking like
a cross between Walter Mathhau and Mao. He wears a bright red shirt, headphones
and a big smile. You see him bustling over the bridge near area 3, usually
moving forwards, but many times, walking in reverse clapping.
Jogger in the Black Tank Top
Sunrise Jogger’s body-hugging black attire is
reminiscent of a one-piece bathing suit from the 20’s, making you wonder if he
stepped out of a secret Chinese time machine hidden in the bamboo garden. He’s
on the short side with wire frames, a buzz cut and bulging muscular thighs too
big for his squat body. Mind you, jogging is a western import, so morning
runners are rare as fig Newtons or size 9 shoes. This intense athlete dressed
in all black can be spotted huffing around the big pond around 7 in the
morning. Who is this guy?
Woman In Curlers With The
Working out with Samurai swords usually doesn’t
get a second look in China. Neither does a full head of old school curlers. But
the combo together is a little unnerving. There’s usually a morning group of
Samurai Swords women swinging to a Billy Banks Samurai tape under the canopy in
area 3 near the bridge. Curler Lady makes an occasional appearance.
Male Yoga Student With Pants
Hiked Up Too High
know who his is, but this regular yogi pulls his drawers up to his nipples.
He’s usually at the Tuesday night class at Tao Yoga. I have no idea how he gets
into downward dog without an upward wedgie. Fashion police, arrest him. Please!
Old Chinese Identical Twins By
Enough said. But now for the top two resident
weirdos who get all of the stares:
Měi Guó Rén (American) With Old Chinese
Jeff’s bike is so sad, that thieves stole his lock and left the cycle.
White Lady With The Broken
would be me. The sun here is intense and can cook you like an ant under a
magnifying glass. Umbrellas are the best ways to beat the UV rays. Mine, with a
few broken ribs and tattered canopy, has seen better days. Before I cause a
gaper’s delay, I better get a new one.
Finally, Bangkok’s Walking Man with Bad Hygiene.
He’s a dark skinned guy with a white painted face sporting pants on the stinky side. Bangkok’s Walking Man With Bad Hygiene stops, pees and prays at every shrine on Sukhumvit Road. His hair is a combination of dreadlocks and a burnette brillo pad. Scary!
The bridal business is as big in Kunming as bootleg DVDs. You can rent dresses by the weekend for the big event. Or, if you have a student whose parents own one of the premiere t boutiques in Kunming, you can graciously borrow them by the school day.
Long story short, we celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary b reynewing our vows in front of our 150 shortest friends.
I allowed my students picked out the dress. It was the stuff
fairy tales are made of: organza, bling and poofiness. All that was missing was
At the Bridal Salon, I got a crash lesson on how to hover
over a squatty in the dress without peeing on the crinoline. Two friends transformed
my classroom into a bridezilla world, then helped me get to the school
auditorium for a 9:15 ceremony.
The students were excited and dressed for the occasion…well most of them.
The ceremony lasted 30 minutes, including a music selection
from my students.
title=”Cecila4 by AmericanTakeOur, on Flickr”><img
Mr. Mac vowed to honor, love and cherish Mrs. Mac forever,
along with share his tootsie rolls.
He had second thoughts about that one.
In honor of Mr. Mac’s Californian background, the minister –Greg
Letherer, wore beach shorts.
The students squealed when we kissed…kissed…and kissed
again, even though the invitations clearly said NO GIGGLING.
We didn’t hand out cigarettes to
our guests—as they do at traditional Chinese weddings– just lots of cake.
The best thing is, no one was
tardy for fourth period, not even the bride.
Jeff and I are in Bangkok again. One word describes this
It is the Crayola crayon box of Asia. Skittle like cars turn traffic into rainbows.
The street food? Colorful, yes. Edible? Uh…
The street markets? Stinky, crowded and full of colorful smells.
The sweet food? High caloric and colorful.
The sushi we had in for breakfast with our coco puffs? A colorful part of indigestion.
Even the gazillion of shrines are a coloful sight for
sore eyes. Some are just ribbons tied around trees.
Take a closer look, and you’ll notice how the shrine is surrounded by rows of creatures lined up perfectly by someone with obessive compulsive disorder.
They are just asking for a seven year old to knock them down like dominoes.
The pious leave colorful offerings of flowers and Fanta .
This lamp on Sukumvit
was colorful…among other things.
The pool on the top of our hotel? Colorful.
The political parties in Thailand are even named after colors. Fortunately, we didn’t see any red shirts, not even on pets.
So where did we spend most of our time in Bangkok? In our hotel room, parked in front of a colorful LCD screen, watching English TV stations that are blocked in China.