Aelex’s Adoption Diary
Saturday March 1, 2003
Extra! Extra! Hell freezes over! Pigs fly! Mark sing karaoke!
You did not read wrong. I have completely lost any and all testosterone that I once may have had. The things that one will do for their children are truly amazing. Let’s begin at the beginning.
Today was supposed to be a simple trip to the Rape of Nanking Memorial followed by a Beer Party and then dinner. It all began at around 11 A.M. when Dr. Hong sent one of his assistants, a lovely girl whose American name was Connie (just a note about the Chinese and their names. They all have Chinese names of course, but in addition, most will also choose a Western name for those of us who are utterly incapable of pronouncing even the most basic of Chinese words to use - hence Connie), to escort me to the museum. We took a surprisingly uneventful taxi ride, coming close to killing a mere 11 people, to the museum, approximately a 20 minute ride. Allow me to sum up the horrors of the Rape of Nanking with the following statement: if anyone doubts that the Japanese deserved to have 2 nuclear bombs dropped on them in World War II, simply ask a Chinese National who lived through the atrocities of December 1937-January 1938 and hear what they have to say about it. My guess is that they would be mad that we stopped at 2. Pearl Harbor was a love fest compared to this stuff. Since this is a family forum, I will refrain from listing the madness of this period but I will say that I was more than a bit numb after walking out of there. If you ever find yourself in Nanjing and do not make the trip to this Memorial you have slighted yourself. Truly a must see.
After the visit to the museum, I needed a drink, and lucky for me, it was time for Dr. Hong’s Good Time Special Fun Chinese Beer Party. About time! We all met up in the lobby with Dr. Hong, his assistants Connie (of the Rape of Nanking Memorial fame) and Jane, as well as his sister-in-law and his niece. We all went across the street to an establishment that was playing music at the approximate volume of the inside of a jet engine. We all entered a private room to discover that — wait for it — we were in a karaoke parlor! Suffice it to say that they could not bring me beers fast enough. As I tried to sink into the couch and avoid the microphone being passed around for renditions of Chinese pop songs, Elvis classics and Disney tunes, my luck eventually ran out. At first I just flatly refused the mic but my clever wife (who somehow managed to avoid singing herself) eventually guilted me into singing a song for my daughter. I am not proud of this. I am not even sure what my wife said to get me to do this, but the next thing I knew, I was standing in front of all these people belting out “New York, New York.” I brought the house down. “Show stopper” and “fabulous” were but a few of the descriptions being thrown around after I was done. I will now be appearing nightly at the Jade Room of the Nanjing Hilton, be sure to tip your waitresses. Perhaps the only thing more amazing than the fact that I was actually singing karaoke (I cannot believe that I just typed those words) was that Aelex managed to fall fast asleep in the midst of this obscene noise. She is truly a Congiusta and will fit in nicely with both sides of the family come party time. I was quite proud.
After scraping what little manhood I had left back into my shorts, we left for dinner. We walked about 10 blocks into downtown Nanjing which was hopping on this Saturday night. The city was lit up and the streets were packed with weekend revelers. Very metropolitan. We arrived at the restaurant and were escorted to our own private dining room to begin our feast. Also present at the table was Dr. Hong’s father-in-law, Mr. Sun, a world renowned scholar on modern Chinese history, who has lectured all over the Asia, Europe and the U.S. Since I had shown such an interest in the historical aspects of Nanjing, Dr. Hong was thoughtful enough to invite Mr. Sun along to talk with me. With Connie (the same Connie again, this girl is the tops) acting as interpreter, I assaulted poor Mr. Sun with questions for most of the next two hours. He was exceedingly gracious, as was Connie, but they both must have been starving at the end of the meal because they barely had a chance to eat as I asked them question after question.
The food was outrageous. Absolutely the best meal we have had thus far in China. Mr. Sun even commented on my skill with the chopsticks and I was smiling for the rest of the night. I know that I speak for everyone involved when I say that tonight was an awesome way to end our visit to Nanjing.
We returned to the hotel to prepare for our early departure tomorrow to Guangzhou and another step closer to our return home. At every turn we make new friends and see new things, and I cannot say enough about the hospitality of our hosts. Dorothy and I are humbled by the lengths the Chinese will go to make you feel at home. Tomorrow is also Aelex’s first plane ride so we can only hope that that goes well. If you do not hear from us for a day or two send out the cavalry. I may be taking a break from commentary for the next installment as the bride feels that I have been neglectful in communicating the specifics of our daughter’s personality and style, so she will be taking over this space for a while. Till next we speak cats and kittens, any day topside of the Yangtze is a good day…