Dating in China: Confessions of a White Guy

(What is about to take place happens quickly)

We sit snuggled side-by-side at a small round wooden table. Our shoulders purposely close the physical distance between us, and which was there only a minute ago. A mental game of cards is in play.

I lay down my next card on the table. This is a code word — as I have no physical cards — to bring out my iPad. I hook up my iPad to the Wi-Fi without needing a password, and navigate to a short funny video to watch on Youku (Chinese Youtube).

We watch a video of a well-known foreigner named Michael Sui impersonating different accents with sublime skill. Thirty seconds into the video, her fits of laughter start to make her feel more relaxed, and at the same time it makes it easier for me to put my arm around her.

With my hand now around her I prepare my next card. There’s no way I could have played this card ten minutes ago, but that’s the beauty of sequential moves. It works with both cards and women.

As the video clip comes to an end, I turn to the beautiful northern Chinese girl sitting next to me. I tell her a short story behind the making of the video and explain Michael Sui’s heritage as a Chinese American. She absorbs everything I say, and then there is a pause. None of us say anything. I look into her eyes and lean in slightly, but she suddenly turns her head 45 degrees away from me.

I’m sure she’s kissed plenty of guys before. So maybe she’s nervous about kissing a foreigner for the first time, or maybe just pretending to be shy and underplaying her experience. As to the exact reason I’m not sure, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that our bodies are still locked next to each other and she hasn’t stood up to leave. It’s a green light to proceed.

“It’s okay,” I reassure her in English while at the same time putting my arm around her. I keep my head back and lips a safe distance from hers. I need to build up trust again.

She turns her face back to look at me. My right hand now moves up to rest on the back of her neck to gently hold her posture in my direction. I smile and then lean in. In less than a second our lips make contact and I pull back right away in almost one continuous motion.

It all happens in a split second. She’s stunned. She’s just kissed a foreigner on the second floor of a coffee shop. The speed of escalation and what has just happened is hard for her to process. Kissing me was the last thing on her mind when she walked into this Beijing coffee shop only 45 minutes ago.

We watch another video, this time it’s a Beijing parody of Empire State of Mind. After two minutes our lips lock again but this time there is no hesitation. Both tongues come out. Her technique is not great but ‘hey’ I’m not complaining! Making out with the music in the background is bliss.

With limits on what we can do next at a coffee shop, I decide to take the lead to settle the bill. I pay for the two coffees and cheesecake — as she already paid for dinner.

After settling the bill we step out onto the street. I then turn to her and say, “I really need to go to the bathroom.”

“Me too,” she immediately says back.

The limited seating on the second floor is not the only reason I keep coming back to this particular coffee shop. Besides being almost empty by 9 o’clock on a weeknight, it also has no restroom. This is super inconvenient for when I need to come here to study, but it does work well on dates, and as you will soon see.

“Ok cool, let’s go to the toilet and then maybe we can go for a walk around the park,” I suggest.

We walk down the road together. Our shoulders start to bump into each other every few steps as we walk. This is another positive sign, but there’s no reason to be rash. Inviting her back to my place now for a drink would be courtship suicide.

The rules on dating are different in China. It’s more like being back in high school. You have to behave like a 15-year old, who’s just learnt some pick-up tricks off his dad or a Hollywood movie, like the old yawn-and-arm-around-the-shoulder trick.

We continue to walk down the street. We are are now less than 100 meters away from a public toilet, which is 50 meters in the same direction as my apartment. As I walk with her in the direction of the public toilets I’m actually leading her directly back to my apartment. But I don’t tell her that.

“Where are we going? I thought we were going to the toilet?” She bursts out in almost perfect English once I turn to take her down a side road to my building complex. Fear though is audible in her voice as a sudden anxiety attack rushes through her body.

I reply, “Yeah we are, this is my apartment. The bathroom here is much cleaner…and safer than a public toilet. We’ll just go inside for five minutes and then go back out for a walk around the park.”

She swallows my false deadline line-and-sinker. She’s going to have no objections when I pull down her panties fifteen minutes later, but right here and right now she can live with herself for committing five minutes to go inside.

After unlocking the front door I take my shoes off in the hallway and slip into my slippers. I want her to follow my lead and take her shoes off too, and she immediately does the same. Now that we both have our shoes off its easier to stay and make ourselves comfortable. Chinese people never walk inside barefoot anyway, so offering slippers is the polite thing to do.

I let her go to the bathroom first and then I go too. This is the gentleman thing to do, and it gives her time to observe my living room while she’s waiting for me.

The living room is decorated with my Chinese calligraphy on the walls, photos with friends, and my dumb-bell set in the corner. All three make for great conversation pieces. I can tell her about learning calligraphy, tell her stories about my friends on the wall, or even challenge her to try lifting my dumb-bells.

It doesn’t really matter what piques her interest — anything that distracts her from leaving in a hurry works by me.

Next she picks up a funny picture storybook sitting on the coffee table. I take the lead and we sit down together on the couch to read it. Instantly we are back in the same situation as we were at the coffee shop: sitting side-by-side.

I read to her for a few minutes until I feel she is comfortable and then make my move. This time round proves much easier as I lean in lean to kiss her. Within five minutes her pants drop to the floor and I can see the flush. An Ace will do that.

These days it’s almost like I’m playing against myself. But I guess that’s what you get when you’ve got good moves and you‘ve been in China a while.

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This is an exert of my new book available on Kindle for $2.99