Friday, January 05, 2007

$8 Divorce. Sign here, initial here.

A couple years ago, I ran into my old friend PJ on MySpace. For those of you who remember this friend, it truly was a great reunion. One thing I noticed as interesting was his name on MySpace. It read, "99 Dollar Divorce", and was also the name of his new music project. When I wrote him back, I asked him about this peculiar name.

"Please, PJ, tell me this is just a cynically clever band name you came up with and not an actual advertisement you saw or heard."

He wrote back, "As much as I'd love to tell you it was something I dreamed up, every morning when I lived in Chicago, I passed a huge billboard advertising this deal."

Naturally, this made me pretty sad as I wondered about the state of America.

It's been a little while since my outrage has reached the same point, but today it surely has. My Mandarin teacher (Geoff) and I were riding our bikes in the countryside this afternoon when he told me, "Do you remember that friend I introduced you to last month? He's getting a divorce this week. Did you know that divorce in (this city) only costs 65 kuai?"

"Sixty-Five Kuai!", I screamed. I absolutely could not believe it. (For those of you not familiar with the current value of Chinese money, divorce costs $8 USD in the city I live in in China.)

I had told Geoff before about the $99 divorce signs PJ had saw in Chicago. "Eight US dollars is certainly less than ninety-nine." He said through a laugh. "Although I am still thoroughly outraged," I said, "My concern wasn't about the price of the divorce in Chicago, but the luring manner and disrespect for the sanctity of marriage that the advertisement showed."

"I know", he said as we rode on and shook our heads in disbelief of the situations in both of our countries.

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