It seems like a life-time ago that we lived in Hong Kong. Yet, after reading this post, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so uncomfortable being stretched out of my routine. I almost hated it.
Ha! And now I insist upon it.
I was not always a joiner, you know.
This was the first of those to come: Tai Chi Chance Encounters
I have watched this group of dedicated Tai Chi-ers, morning after morning some weeks, wishing I had the guts to jump in and give the white girl go. I’d been watching from a chair in front of the village 7-11, from behind my sunglasses, where I pretended to read the book in my lap.
I was so inspired by their concentrated movements, their direct attention, the elegance in the fluidity of their synchronized motion that I downloaded an app to practice in my apartment, hoping that one day I might be good enough to jump in, unnoticed. When the app quickly revealed its futility, I watched Youtube clips only to find that they too are impossible to follow with your back to the screen. You’d need a rear view mirror to keep up in real time, not to mention more idiot-proof verbal cues to keep straight your left and your right.
I have my trepidation. I’ve already proven, time and time again, to be awful in all choreographed situations. I’m almost positive I was the last one to fall into rhythm in the simple box step we were practicing for our high school production of Greece, where I was supposed to be playing the Pink Ladies’ fearless leader, Rizzo. I think I even joked then, “A few cocktails and I would totally have this!” I have also embarrassed myself in step classes where I’ve been known to kick the lid right off my step. And that one time I tried country line dancing, though in that case I might have actually had too much to drink, if there is such a thing at a country western bar.
Why, do you ask, then would i want to subject myself to about twenty chatty little Chinese women who don’t speak my language, and about five docile men who may be just as likely to criticize my lack of ability.
I’ll tell you why–because i just don’t care anymore. Besides, today when I went to have my seat in front of the 7-11, excited to see my fave group already in session, I noticed for the first time a white dude, a big oafy one, right up in the mix.
He pursed his lips and furrowed his brow as he worked his way through the motions. I noticed he was plugged into his own music, but other than that, he was seemingly right on cue. I was thrilled to see a westerner and curious how he’d nudged his way into the group.
He could probably sense I was thinking about him. He came over almost immediately after and asked to join me at my table. I stopped what I was only pretending to read and dove right into the interrogation: “When did you get started? How did they let you in? Who did you talk to?”
He was a very nice fella from France named Oliver, pronounced oh-lee-vair, who assured me that the master teacher is a really nice guy who speaks very good English and he would be more than willing to help me if I joined. I was apprehensive all the sudden; it couldn’t be this easy.
“Would you like me to introduce him to you?” He said.
“Um, uh, maybe I’ll see if my girlfriend wants to come,” I said, avoiding the question.
“He’s really nice and will help you. I’ll introduce you so that way you can come tomorrow morning.”
I knew if he introduced me i couldn’t back out.
“Oh good, here he comes now,” he said.
…so I start tomorrow morning. At a quarter past eight, sharp, I am to come down to the courtyard in front of Foodland and 7-11, ready to go. He was a very kind man full of squinty eyed smiles and reassuring words. “You will follow me,” he said, “Stand right behind me, and follow me.”
When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Then he said that he’s going on vacation, so after tomorrow, he told Oliver, he will leave me with one of his best students. My new, very forward, French friend then proceeded to wave her over to introduce us. She spoke zero English so she just smiled and nodded a lot and I did the same and somehow we got it all worked out that she would take care of me while the master was gone.
Cue the sinking guilt for thinking anything other than them being welcoming, pleasant and fabulous. Dumb American!
Oliver and I chatted for a bit more, but before he left he made sure to mention what I was to wear and be sure to bring with me. Water, maybe a towel, proper shoes … he pointed to his ipod, but I told him I rather like the Chinese music–he cringed at the notion.
“What do you listen to, by the way?” I asked.
“What’s gay music?”
And there you have it, a token to take with you: even in Hong Kong, Depeche Mode is gay.
I leave you with this: Don’t just say you’ll do it. Commit today; sign up, pay the fees, fill out the paperwork, or give your word that you’ll be there tomorrow. And remember, your word is good as gold! For shizzle.