I got well and truly plastered last night after a long time. (Don’t shoot me yet, this is not an I-drank-so-much-last-night post although it looks like it right now.) Slightly more buzzed than pleasant at the end of it. I probably said some unnecessary things. Definitely stayed up later than I should have.
I turned maudlin in the end, though I was giggling.
First of all, I don’t think I can be bothered with Soho anymore. It is too, for lack of a better word, inauthentic. There must be a reason Chinese people avoid it and I don’t believe it’s because they lack sophistication. Soho, starting from its name and going downhill from there, is a manufactured version of the Western version of the good life people with people trying very hard to live that life. When you see that, it all falls apart and no amount of pretty lamps and velvet cushions can help.
We had dinner in a Middle Eastern place in which I couldn’t spot a single Chinese face. The food was very good, and so was the wine I ordered. It had a long complicated name and I wavered between calling it the Spanish wine or the name of the varietal. I said, “I’ll have the Rioja” and the snooty waitress, with a completely straight face, said, “the Rioha” and instead of being embarrassed, I skipped a beat and said, “she corrected my pronounciation”and giggled. That was the start of my giggling.
That was not really the problem though. It was useful to be reminded that J is H in Spanish. The problem was that everyone in that place was so goodlooking it was tiring to gaze upon them. And that is the problem in the whole of Soho. The varnish is all-pervasive. How come even the grungy people are so effortfully so?
Thankfully, we decamped from the cramped quarters of the trendy restaurant to a very non-pretentious bar where the waitresses didn’t even bother to try and pronounce the names of the wine on their list and things got much better then.
On the way back, past uber-trendy bots, we cut through the frenzy of Lang Kwai Fong and the shortness of the skirts of the girls began to make me very angry. Because I didn’t see a single boy in shorts. And while it is not the dead of winter, it is not miniskirt-sans-tights weather either. But here were all these women, baring arms, legs, chests in the service of what I’m not sure, without even the benefit of fat to keep them warm and of course, the inevitable heels were present.
The train from Central was populated with drunk expats. There were two boys sprawled over three seats in that entitled way that only Westerners in the East can. They were having a fairly loud conversation about some girl, and then another girl who someone else is dating and were looking at photos of her and smirking. These were “boys” in their 30s. Next to them was an eager Chinese girl with a dirty unkempt blonde man who as expected said he had no job and was travelling. “Find someone better!” I nearly shouted. Next to the Chinese girl was a Chinese man, probably a Mainlander, clenching his jaw and looking very angry. He could have been trying not to vomit, but I suspect he was thinking the same thing as me because he kept glancing at the couple next to him in annoyance.
We switched trains to the uncool purple line which takes one to places where uncool people live and then it was only Chinese people in the train. Every single person as far as the eye could see was glued to their cell phone. Opposite us were three girls, obviously friends, saying a word only to draw the attention of the others to something on their phone. They then went back to their respective phones. Silence reigned, punctuated by my giggles.
I felt like I have seen all there is to life, except my children growing up. And that my children are the only people in this world I like without reservation. Despite my struggles with him, my husband comes next, which is something to be grateful for. I feel closer to my helpers than most of my friends. Is this why mothers become obsessed with their children? Because at some point they had the luxury of not even trying to like anyone else?
These days it seems like all human interaction leaves me with a bad taste in the mouth. Either something I said or someone else did. It makes me what to give up on it altogether and embrace the life of a yeti.
I know I sound a bit like a broken record. Go do it, you say.
PS: I wrote this post on Sunday. Later, I went with V and Benji to Sai Kung and I realised that all is not lost. When I’m misanthropic like this, I tend to see myself as the problem, and I had begun to suspect that there was noplace I would like. It turns out that I still like Sai Kung. It has many of the same restaurants as Soho only there are both Chinese and Western people in them, side by side, even smiling. And there are the Chinese restaurants too. There are tourists and locals and day-trippers. Everyone is nicer, even friendly, particularly the Chinese people to whom this does not come easy, especially to brown foreigners. Instead of uber-trendies stalking around in painful shoes and stiff hair, affecting joie de vivre, there are people in t-shirts and jeans walking their dogs, their children, just themselves evidently relaxed. I would live there if it weren’t such a trek to work. Mainly I feel encouraged that I do not hate everything.