When my homeboy Michael moved to Beijing last year to be a fancy cosmopolitan architect man, there were bound to be some changes.
“You gonna eat that?” he asked me at the sushi restaurant.
“Nah,” I said, but really I was.
“Good to see you,” he offered, savoring a piece of spicy tuna.
“WHO ARE YOU WORKING FOR?” I thought, but instead I just said, “You too.”
“You OK? How’s the blog going?”
“Don’t change the subject,” I retort, throwing a piece of drippy ginger at his face.
A waiter passes by and Mike grabs his wrist.
“For the food. How much?”
“Ohh… I have to check,” says the nice Japanese man.
“I’m s-sorry sir, you w — ”
“40 dollars for all the food.”
“Ahh n-no,” objects the nice Japanese man.
“45 and done. No more.”
The waiter runs away to get help.
“Mike, you can’t negotiate here. This is a restaurant.”
We stare at each other for an eternity, then we grab the samurai swords hanging on the wall and begin fighting.
Mike lands his sword on my funny bone, then I go in for the kill. Instead I catch his epaulette and remove his coat in one fell swoop, which the sushi chef interprets as a great dishonor.
He kicks us out before we can pay and keeps the coat.
“See what I mean?” he asks me on the street, shivering. “Everything negotiable.”
“What’s happend to him?” I wonder, but I’m afraid of the answer. Sometimes it’s better to know less about expats.