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The Umbrellas of Shanghai


When I first got to Shanghai, it did rain a lot.  There were lots of umbrellas bobbing on the streets. But when it's sunny, the other umbrellas come out: the iridescent, the laced, the non-waterproof. Yes the Shanghai women are particularly known for their white skin, and it takes a lot of minding to keep it protected from the sun's harsh rays.  

Notice the girl at the front of this pack...she's forgotten her umbrella, but in this case a book will do.  Where I come from, that is a pose reserved for celebs keeping low key from the paparazzi.

Here is a perfect example of the Shanghai Lovely I keep mentioning.  Pale-faced yet well-rouged with those perfectly arched eyebrows and a pleasant but neutral smile. My cohort 'Honey,' who took me to get my visa, has exactly the sweet voice that you would imagine coming from this lovely--pitched high, but delivered legato, with little 'mmmn's and 'ahhhs' singing through.  And it's the asking of details minute, with just enough care so that you know she's regarding you attentively, that adds to this particular charm.

'Honey' was the one who pointed out the umbrella effect to me.  I had noticed but she mentioned the care for white skin that is known among the Shanghai ladies.  I told her that where I come from, people pay to sit in booths, radiated with ultraviolet rays, or go to a body shop to get spray-painted bronze like some sports car.  It shows that you have love of sun and that you are rich enough to have leisure time to sit around and bake.  

The men are men, but publicly affectionate.  Brotherly. Comraderly.  It was a shock to me that first time I taught in China, in Guangzhou, in 1985.  At that time, the men would hold hands very openly, as did the women, but it was rare to see a man and woman holding hands. It felt like such an innocent, pre-Freudian society that didn't read sex into everything. And that was at a time before the lack of siblings. I don't see much man-man, boy-boy handholding these days, but I sure see a lot of boyfriend-girlfriend affection, arm in arm, hand in hand.  And the girls love to latch arms as they hold their umbrellas.

The Shanghai Lovelies stroll with their umbrellas and the men walk as comrades in arms in a peaceful, calm setting, as no lawnmowers or weed-whackers interfere with any buzzy, fuming motors.  The Ladies who Labor hand cut all the grass, from sun up to sun down.  It's still cheaper for the school to hire these lawncutters, and it creates jobs for the ladies from the countryside.  No dependence on fossil fuels.

Meanwhile, as I'm walking to class, I'm still overwhelmed by all of the English text that is constantly expressing from the shirts of the youth.  It's non-stop, and not just brands but odd little statements like 'Function Makes Itself' or 'Love Be a Sparkle Field.'  The other day I turned the corner, and a butch girl was wearing a sweatshirt that exclaimed in caps: GOOD SHIT.  

There were two Shanghai Lovelies in front of me, sauntering slowly to class.  Yes, frizz will make you sexy.

And yes, believe in yourself.  But I didn't quite catch the fine print about 'excitement.'  Can anyone make it out?









这是我经常提到的典型的上海美女。白白的脸上两道完美的弯眉,再加上很可爱但是自然的微笑。我的陪同“蜂蜜” 带我去取签证,她说话地声音有着只有美女才会发出的甜甜的嗓音-音调比较高,但是圆润,中间带着唱腔的“嗯”和 '啊',让你知道她很留意你,那种感觉格外迷人。





在去教室的路上,我总是被年轻人身上穿的T恤上的英文搞懵了。这是非常常见的,不光是商标,包括一些奇怪的说辞比如:'Function Makes Itself' 或者 'Love Be a Sparkle Field.'  一天我在楼道转弯处看到一个像假小子的女生身上的绒衣印着GOOD SHIT.