I recently dated a Chinese guy for one week. (See, gentle readers? I do listen to your comments! 中国是伟大的民族！)
He likes to drive, which is compatible with my hatred of driving. Sunday morning he asks, "要不要去吃点心？" ("Would you like to go eat dim sum?") He appears a little startled by my reaction of explosive delight.
We decide to invite Zhong, the one friend that we have in common, but Zhong doesn't answer his cell phone, and we only have his address but not his land line. Googling reverse address lookups yields property reports but no phone numbers. Finally we find a land line report that costs $9.95, but we're too cheap to buy it.
We knock on Zhong's door twenty minutes later, who emerges bleary-eyed to find us grinning on his doorstep.
The dim sum restaurant is running out of food because it's 2:30pm, but the three of us sit and eat anyway. It is the first time the guy I'm dating orders dim sum for me, instead of vice versa. It is a new feeling, and very appreciated.
"So what is going on with you guys?" asks Zhong. (你们两个怎么样？）
"我们两个很好，在喝茶,” ("The two of us are doing good, drinking tea.") says my date, immediately picking up his tea cup to take a sip. Ah, the chinese way of sidestepping questions by pretending not to understand them. How frustrating when used on oneself. How immensely entertaining when used on other people.
"Fine," says Zhong, and then turns to me and asks the same question.
"We're very good, and will be dating for another four days," I say, holding up four fingers.
Later, I'm telling my date a story about my mother. The story goes that my mother has a classmate Fen who is five feet tall and chubby. Others don't consider her beautiful, but she considers herself so and preens often. Fen gave birth to a daughter who is astonishingly cute. One day at a classmate reunion, a few people were gathered around cooing at the daugher, and my mother blurted out, "How can Fen look the way she does, and her husband looks the way he does, but the daughter is so cute?"
Fen nearly busted a kidney. "What do you mean by that? I want you to tell me! What's wrong with the way we look!".
My date listened to my story, smiling, and then said, "怎么收场？" ("How to close on that situation?")
It was such the perfect thing to say, tickling me in the right way because the words were in Mandarin and so cute, and I mentally replayed it in my head three thousand times over the next day.
On the last day.
"Dating a chinese guy has its upsides, I'm realizing. Maybe I should only date chinese guys from now on. ... They'll have you to thank."
"I'm not going to date any more chinese girls, because it can't compare to what we had. I'm only dating Estonian girls from now on."