Saturday, September 20, 2008

KFC Throwdown

Okay. So I was the bad guy in KFC today. That happened.

Basically, I had just finished hauling an eight hundred pound box of pots and pans on and off of buses for like four days, okay? It was like a tunnel of buses that you get on and off of. And then at the end of that tunnel, the shining bastion of hope in that dark night of miserably crowded buses was a KFC that I was going to grab a quick bite at before I came back home (this was all in the big city).

So, I went in, lugged the box of miscellaneous cookware up the stairs, put it down, and went back downstairs to order. I got two chicken sandwiches, an ice cream sundae, and a coke. This is a meal to relax to. This is a meal that you order in preparation for some serious sitting and doing nothing. The addition of the ice cream sundae basically makes this fact a no-brainer.

Well, I took my food back up the stairs, and sat down at the only table that I could find--which is right in the middle of the room. It's fine, but honestly, I just don't like to be so public when I'm eating Western food. You can disagree with me all you want, and talk about vanity blah blah blah, but there's no one who looks good eating a chicken sandwich slathered in mayonnaise. Maybe in the next life.

Anyways, I sat down, and immediately this guy, probably eight feet away, is staring at me. Like, no break of eye contact whatsoever, he is focused, his eye's on the prize. The prize of watching me eat that ridiculous meal. I don't know if you guys know this about China, but if staring at white people was an Olympic sport, China would have won it every year since they started participating, and in acknowledgment of this the countries that won the medals before then would have to also give them up, all the way back to their inception in ancient Greece. It is shameless. I bet if a foreigner were packed into a huge box, everyone would be staring at it as it was wheeled down the street. No one would know why. It would be all instinct.

Unfortunately, being on the receiving side of this isn't always awesome. Most of the time it's fine, but there comes a time when it is not okay. This light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel moment was one such time.

First I did the most polite thing, what I normally do: look directly at them, for a few seconds. When they actually see that you're staring back at them, they know that you know that they're staring at you. And usually they get a little embarrassed, and you can give them a polite smile (yes, I know, you were blinded by that rock star quality that I seem to have--it happens in America, too), and it's all over.

But this guy had clearly not had enough. I guess he thought, "Oh! The foreigner looked at me!" And he got all his friends to stare at me, too, but they thankfully weren't so mannerless--they glanced, but then resumed their business. He, though, kept it up. I gave him pleading glances, lowered my hat, slumped down in my chair. Through all of this I was still trying to eat. But I was getting more and more frustrated.

Finally, after seriously not looking up for about twenty minutes, I glanced up, and he was still staring at me, absolutely shamelessly, without even glancing away. So finally I threw my arms up, like, "What do you want from me?" And he just smiled that irritating smile, and so I absolutely bellowed at him, "HEY, I'M NOT AN ANIMAL!" (My Chinese isn't good enough to say anything much more interesting than that.)

SO I WAS SO SO ANGRY AND SO I GOT UP AND I SNATCHED UP MY TRAY AND MADE A BIG DISPLAY OF STORMING OVER TO A DIFFERENT TABLE WHERE HE COULDN'T STARE AT ME but actually then I saw that there were no other tables and I could only move to the other side of my table where he could only stare at my back. Which was somewhat embarrassingly anticlimactic, but it worked well enough, I guess.

They left soon after, and I was happy to see that the guy didn't glance back at me as he was leaving. I guess he got the message?


evan said...

In my not so humble opinion, you were not the bad guy in this situation. However, it's probably good your Chinese isn't good enough to say what was really going on in your head!

Rob said...

wow, that panda is awesome.

Justin said...

My hat's off to you for that Peterson link. Gold. Seriously.

And I totally know what you're talking about with your rock star quality, even in the states. I remember that time in college when we went to a bar - I was 20, you were 18 - and I got carded and you didn't. That was before the great haircut of '05, too.

drew said...

Haha, Justin--that Peterson link was one of those that I knew most people wouldn't get, but the ones who did would think it was awesome.

I have a hard time believing that that happened before the Great Haircut, but I'll take your word for it. Nowadays pretty much every bouncer who checks my license laughs his head off when he sees it (the pre-/post-haircut difference is pretty extreme).

Actually, Evan! You were like the first one I saw afterwards, and you didn't recognize me! And you're right. Actually, I don't let my friends teach me bad words basically because of situations like this.

And I'll clarify for the other members of the audience, if they care: I was not going to that bar to imbibe alcohol.

And Rob? Hi, Rob.

Cate Raff said...

hahahahaha! I love this post, and all the links!

rybreadkiller said...

I as well loved the link. You've always been creative with that internet thing. I was recently on Facebook and saw an old photo of you. I think you may be taking on too much of the culture you are in. Maybe just take a step back and then you'll be able to deal with the starers and the like a little better:


evan said...

Now that you say that, I totally remember. I was unaware that we should refer to it as the great haircut of '05, but I am all for it. That haircut did for you what Lionel Ritchie did for the Commodores.

If I wasn't about to put Missy to bed, I would have linked both the words Lionel Ritchie and Commodores to the appropriate videos.