Late night at an empty bar in Jinan, I'm sitting with Scott flailing my arms about the need for a sense of place in a Southern novel. He's from Louisiana and is trying to write one such, but is finding it hard to do so far away. I'm trying to help by pressing the point that being gone might be exactly the thing.
Behind me, there has been a man singing while tennis plays in the background. It's not exactly karaoke, but it is close, and he's been singing in Chinese so I haven't been paying attention. I sit up straight and turn around, though, when I realize that his last song is "Love Me Tender," and that moreover he is doing a perfect Elvis voice.
The next day I'm alone in a cab with the driver, which makes for a pretty silent ride. He has turned up the radio, and standard Chinese pop is playing on it. But then a UB40 song comes on, in English, and I realize that somehow I know all the words. The driver looks at me sideways and starts to sing along--he doesn't speak English, but he has memorized the song regardless. I sing along too, and there I am, riding down the road in a crazy swerving cab, singing with the radio and the cabdriver on my last day in China.
Ok, kids, so here's the thing: my birthday is next weekend. I haven't had an actual birthday gathering in almost two handfuls of years (aside from the year Sarah and maybe Pete conspired against me and forced a lovely birthday party on me), because generally they tend to go wrongly.
I don't know. I put a little too much emphasis on birthdays as important markers. I've written and deleted this at least fifteen times but I'm going to post it because I have to be honest even when it makes me feel silly.
My birthday is next weekend, and I was thinking about having some sort of gathering the week after. Probably not at my house, to avoid all the cleaning and cooking involved, but maybe over at my bar or something. And so I want to know what folks think, when you might be free the week after next to come hang out. I generally try and avoid my birthday but I feel that this year needs to be marked, somehow. It's been a big one for me.
So...what do you think?