Sunday, August 30, 2009

Shake Hands with Beef (or a Mannequin)

On a long bike ride through Beijing last week, Steve and I stumbled across one of my new favorite stores in the city. The storefront is filled from head to toe with every kind of mannequin you could possibly imagine. As we went blazing by, we both simultaneously did a double take, looking at each other both realizing we had to turn around and go inside. It's the kind of store that dreams are made of. You know that a place like this has to exist somewhere, but who of us have had the the luxury of finding it?

Most likely used to juvenile trouble-makers stopping by the store with no intention of buying, the owner of the store was quick to give us the "Shoo, shoo, no photos" routine. While Steve went off taking as many shots as he could, I did my best to stall the lady.

I used to think that being a foreigner was great because I could just play dumb to everything that people said and get away with just about anything. But now that my Chinese skills are to a level that is a bit startling to the locals (still not great, just surprising), I can use their shock and my language skills to try to win them over if playing dumb doesn't work. It's the best of both worlds!

So once I realized that her pointing at the camera and saying "No!", and pointing to the door was pretty universal, I tried to smooth things over with language. She made the mistake of asking the obvious question, "Are you going to buy something or not?", which I responded with, "Why else would I come here, lady? Tell me about this one over here. How much is this one? Hmm...that's a bit much. I'm looking for one a bit shorter and younger. Do you have any like that?" I was at least halfway convincing because she led me around the store half-heartedly selling me on a few of the models (which are surprisingly expensive!)

As my confidence in my acting abilities began to wane, I told her I would just have a look around by myself and talk it over with my business partner. She then told me she wanted to close and we would have to come back tomorrow. Not wanting to push my luck, we stepped out of the wonderland.

The video's not great, but it's the best I was able to take in our limited time. I didn't want to upset the owner too much, just in case she recognized me for next time I come back...

1 comment:

Chris said...

That's an amazing store. Someone should shoot a fight scene in there.