It’s time for my favorite part of the week: the weekly round-up of the kooky things I’ve seen from just walking outside of my apartment building. Whether a WRT (Weird Random Thing) I decided to try in a grocery store, or just an everyday oddity, it’s all part of the Weird that makes up China.
If I only had a Parking Ticket
From a distance, it looks like a lone police-man watching over the surging traffic, hand perpetually caught in a salute. But when you get closer, it’s clear that this isn’t a police-man at all, but a doll propped up in the median to look like a police-man. It’s in a blue uniform, has a white cap, and dons a creepy smile that doesn’t unsettle at first, but lies in wait like a repressed memory. In a way, it reminds me of the Automatic Pilot from Airplane! except that this one is stuck rooted to one spot and doesn’t seem to come with hilarious antics. Is it supposed to ward off bad driving along the highway like some demented scarecrow? I’m not really sure, but if that’s the case, then this creature might have to ask for more than a brain once it gets to Oz.
The Hungry Caterpillar
I really thought it was just a children’s stand. It had mind-games, cute stuffed animals, noise-makers…and then the caterpillar. It was green, long, and fun to twist around, but once I started twisting it, there was something horribly wrong. The face was on both ends. I tried not to think about the horrifying implications, but ultimately failed and had to scoot away from the scene as fast as I could, lest the worm abomination choose to pursue me. It’s just as awful as “Catdog,” this cartoon about a mutant animal with a cat on one end and a dog on the other, like Dr. Frankenstein’s practice run before the monster. I mean, I’ve heard “two heads are better than one,” but I also think that a gastric explosion of un-voided food is the worst series finale possible, let alone a child’s play-thing.
And we all float on
All of us foreign teachers were on a wooden boat, melting in the creaks and sloshes of water. All, of course, except David who was doubled over, cackling to himself. When we asked him what the matter was, he just pointed to the man rowing the boat and said “look at his life vest!” And so we did. It was attached expertly, and all according to regulations, I’m sure. But we all knew why David was laughing: the life vest was firmly affixed to his butt. Of course, this is funny enough, but then we started thinking about what would happen should the boat actually sink, and this man would be floating, butt up. “Maybe it’s punishment if he’s daft enough to sink his own boat,” David suggested. I guess it was just his way of making sure the world would always see him, best face forward.
The Hindenburg Lantern
In the park, a family stood haloed by the light of a candle inside of a lantern. They were lifting it up gingerly, and I could see that there was writing all over the sides. Perhaps well-wishes or something like that. It was a pretty big one, wider than an average person’s torso, so when it ended up buckling mid-air and catching in flames, it was quite a sight to behold. The family’s silent reverie was quickly replaced with a frantic “Ahh!” as they tried to hook it back to the ground. A puff of flames that made quick work of the words carefully written along the sides, and a mental image of a very different lantern scene in Tangled. It was probably a nice family moment, which ended with them all stomping on this lantern to put out the flames. Precious moments, China style.
It’s a small bio-dome after all
I was on my way to breakfast on the foreign teacher’s trip to Xitang, when I saw a flower that looked like a torch. I never say no to flaming flowers, so went in. When I came closer, I realized that this was no flower patch, but an entire landscaped greenhouse, made to look as though it was the outdoors. Swathes of grass with walking steps, entire houses and ponds, a giant wooden boat echoing Noah’s Ark, footbridges…it was eerie, as though the dystopian lore of the world being replicated on places without oxygen was being incubated under our very noses. There was an area fashioned to look like Africa, and then inside one of the houses (which had an empty crib, by the way), there were Styrofoam vegetables with painted skin missing to make it look like it had been peeled or eaten. I backtracked to Africa to get away from that, and it was only the person at the desk and the bulldozers hauling dirt that indicated that this was anything other than a weird dream.
I look forward to sharing more strange moments in next week’s round-up. Who knows? Maybe China will surprise itself and come away without anything strange at all. But, what would be the fun in that?