When I saw the clown hatch from the egg, it all made sense. Of course they weren’t human. Who the hell would grow up and decide to become one of them? I can’t say that it all fit together—zoologically speaking—of course, but then I don’t know much about all that. There’s all sorts of weird shit out there, and when I won the big black shell at the showground I knew there would be some kind of trick to it. Who gives away a fifteen-kilo egg as a prize in a guess-the-jellybeans-in-the-jar game? Calling it a ‘fortune egg’ did nothing to further its appeal. I didn’t even want the bloody thing. The show hands had to push it to the car in a wheelbarrow.
So in the garage it went, covered with an old dust sheet. I would’ve forgotten all about it, but about a week later I went in to get some wax to buff my Mini Cooper. As soon as I got through the door I heard a loud tapping from the egg. Pulling back the sheet, I saw that it was already cracked. As I watched, a section of shell was pushed out by a meaty paw, and a pudgy white face thrust itself into the gap. Its lips and eyes were black, its ears red. It looked like an obscene baby.
For a Westerner, the culture of China can be hard to fully appreciate. To become immersed in it, you must do more than just watch. Ron Riekki brings us a dash of fantasy from the misunderstandings of a Westerner in urban Shanghai. SY
I sat watching the girls walk by. This was my second week in Shanghai, my first time in Asia. The girls looked like they were heading to funerals. Their expressions, their clothing, their entire demeanor screamed death to me. In Montréal, where I had come from, there was an equal affinity for black, but the vibe was catwalk. Montréal was runway; Shanghai felt like runaway.
Maybe it was simply because I didn’t understand the culture. I was thoroughly Canadian. I grew up in Sudbury, which got me used to air pollution, the way that the sky can look like artistic renditions of lung cancer, beautiful gray carcinoma mornings.
The boss told me to get out of the office. He said my hyperactivity would scare the clients. That I didn’t know how to shut up. The Chinese like silence. First person to talk loses. He told me to roam the streets.
A Chinese coworker warned me of “the three hands.”
“The three hands? What’s that?”