"Only two of my friends know about you."

A few years ago our family drove up North a few hundred miles, which in America, with the speeds of our interstates, just isn’t a big deal.  (Yes, I’ve heard of the Autobahn, and no, I will never drive on the Autobahn) 

We were going to see an old friend of my wife.  This friend claimed to know me.  I could not recall. 

But I remembered, if somewhat vaguely, the dude she was apparently engaged to.  That would be because in Hangzhou 1991, only a few laowai existed, and we knew each other.  I would say there were probably less than 15 laowai men in Hangzhou during this time, and most of us were students. 

Anyway, she claimed to know me, I didn’t recall her, but I knew her “boyfriend”, and that was that.   Why was this so important at the time, as we drove up the Mid Atlantic seaboard?   Because this woman I had no recollection of whatsoever wanted to keep secret to her husband that she had a previous laowai boyfriend.  Much less the fact they were supposedly engaged.


The secrets of China Girl.

We know a few Chinese Women here in our town.   They appear from the mist, mysterious and unknown.  Married late at 38.  With a young child in tow.

We wonder to ourselves,

“Does her newly found laowai husband know of her almost certain previous divorce?”

“Or of the kid she left behind in China?  Almost for sure a son you know….”
Whenever I come across middle aged China Woman dating a laowai, I think the worst.  I think of the secrets she holds dearly to her breast, as if laowai would care about her previous lovers(we don’t, but we like to ask out of curiosity).

China Woman thinks we are like China Man, and do care about such things.  We want love and passion and companionship.  Do we care who you caressed 15 or even 6 months previous?  We laowai will ask China Girl about her past romance.  To know her better.  To gauge her sexual experience and perhaps her emotional maturity.

“You had an argument?  Over what?”

China Girl claims China Man will never ask such questions.  I don’t know. 

I’m guilty of thinking the worst about China Woman.  Their supposed to marry early right?  You are telling me that this new arrival in town didn’t get married when she was 28? Or 23?  That she really stayed single until she was 43?  Or even 38 Uh oh.  No way.

We arrive at the house, late at night.  We walk in.  It is awkward to pretend to know someone that knows you.  Or remembers you.   But it’s something I’ve gotten used to over the last few decades in China. 

This friend of China Wife was middle aged, must have been in her forties, and was quite attractive.  Her husband is a successful IT fellow, and these two had an only child and were quite content with each other.  I was impressed.  And I was quite happy for her.

How the hell did she wind up in America?  I heard the story and I forgot.  Simply put she wanted to marry a laowai.  And she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams.

But she was very clear to China Wife there was to be no mention of her previous laowai experience to her current husband. And I was to keep mum.  That’s right.  I was specifically told that I, FFF, was to not bring her romantic past up to her American husband.

I thought it silly.  I’m sure he did, or would’ve as well.  But the truth be told, was she far off from the truth?  Was she on to something?  I for one want to be your first and last laowai.   We don’t want to be compared.  We don’t want the feeling you are simply after a laowai.   Just like Asian American women don’t want a guy with an Asian fetish(don’t look at me please).

But I still couldn’t help but think this pretty middle aged lady was simply over thinking things. 

Maybe she was simply guilty of thinking China Guy would care if she had a previous laowai lover, so therefore wouldn’t a laowai think the same way?  Or maybe she simply lied to said laowai.  Something like “you’re my first laowai”.  I don’t know.   What’s sad is she thought it was important enough that to be found out would jeopardize her marriage.

So up to this day she bears this secret, and carries this burden. And I think it’s sad she thinks it’s worth carrying. 

In essence she was “denying” a guy she had been previously engaged too, over twenty years ago. 

And that’s what I really want to talk about.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have been denied, too.  I’m still denied actually, as I write this.  And I’m somewhat guilty myself for this.  Or so I arrogantly think.  I had a lover, someone I cared about deeply several years ago.  And she is still single.  And yet almost none of her friends know about me.   I’ve practically been airbrushed from her life.  

And I feel it’s for the best. She could never tell her current Hong Kong loser 富二代boyfriend about me.  Or the divorcee she lived with previous, who asked her to marry him.  (She refused)

I’ve told her it’s for the best you see. 

“No matter what, you must never tell your future boyfriends about me,” I would counsel her. And I found a very willing accomplice.  I guess I just wish she hadn’t really taken it to heart.   But she did.  She really did.  And I don’t think she needed my advice to figure out what to do.

“Only two of my friends know about you,” she told me recently when I was in China over dinner. 

We lived together for over a year.  And our paths naturally parted ways.  We never really 分手了。 Yet she was ready to move on, and I had to return to America.   She’s grown up quite a bit these past several years.    Sometimes she will reach out.  Ask how I am, my family etc.

But publicly I am kept away in the darkest corners of her heart, from prying eyes.

Growing up in the country, we had a neighbor. There were kids.  The man had sad eyes and a tough life, his wife friendly enough.  They had a porch.  In the evenings the family would of course congregate in the cool twilight of the summer day, on that porch.

Than one day my grandma casually mentioned they had a disabled child inside their house.

“Why isn’t the child on the front porch at night”? I’d ask.

“They keep her inside son,” my granny would respond.

I’ve taken it to an extreme.  But sometimes I feel I’m kept locked away. Never to be publicly discussed.  Nor bandied about.   I could go on and on. 

The same has happened with other minor players in my selfish sex life in China.  I admit as much. 
None of them dwell much on their experience with me, I’m sure.  The vast majority oh so brief.  But it bothers me I must admit to wonder what Former China Girlfriend says to others explaining away her years with me.   She probably simply says she was “busy working”.   Yeah.  My ego of course insists she freely admit what I will perhaps sometime in the not so distant future admit on screen myself:

“I was in love with someone, and it was great.  And I have no regrets about the experience.”

Adding matter of factly,

“And yes, he was a laowai.”


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