Yellow is the color of
- This past spring, I wrote about the colors of clothes and now,
here's my latest guess on their meaning:
blue = slow
green = moderate
red = fast
pink = do i have to spell it out for you?
hot pink = you get the picture
Back in May, for about a week or two, the color blue disappeared.
Everybody wore red as if spurring on the winds of time, faster,
faster, faster. Red shoes. Red pants. Red shirts. White, beige, and
other complements, of course, but Chinese guys were wearing these
hard red, then later, soft pink shirts while girls wore everything
over nothing, hot pink, soft pink, blue with pink, green with pink,
purple, white, black, and many, many shades of brown laced with pink.
Then, responding to the red clothes on the men and women of
Shenyang, the winds spurred and perhaps from a fear similar to the
first drop on a roller coaster, Chinese women began wearing blue
Whoa, nellie. I was a little upset, thinking blue to be a man's
color and red a woman's color, but a few days ago, on a crowded bus,
a Chinese woman in a beautiful blue see-thru dress leaned into my
body, made her case as the bus bumped us along the road, and I
acceded that blue was a woman's color.
But not everything is about colors.
Tonight, I ate dinner at a meat-on-a-stick restaurant. You can get
beef, pig, lamb, liver, eyes, feet, or whatever else your heart
desires on-a-stick. I typically order 10 sticks of beef, 10 sticks
of lamb, one eye of cow, and one random stick of something different
to try something new, and a bottle of beer, total $1.75.
The view in front of me, priceless.
In front of me, outside, at the next table, sat two Chinese guys and
a girl. I know there's no point in professing innocence, so I will
not, but merely describe the dance in which I partook.
I read my book, a compilation of short stories by Mark Twain, a
difficult task as I was sitting in the dark, but by putting the book
on my lap, I used the spotlights eliminating the visage of darkness
for about ten tables full of Chinese friends and family.
The triplet at the table in front of me appeared to be a couplet
with a spare wheel, a tubby guy sitting at 3 o'clock, who may have
gotten lucky tonight as he appeared braver than his friend, the
boyfriend, who sat at 6 o'clock, back to me.
Cindy, the name I made up for this Chinese girl, eyed me at the
start of my meal. My heart did not skip a beat, but did foreshadow
that a beat would HAVE to be skipped.
I read Twain - which for those of you who haven't read his short
stories, I highly recommend it, the man is quite the genius at
getting your attention, for a short period of time - and laughed.
Not as hard, mind you, as the evening before when I read "Political
Story," in part because "A True Story" wasn't as funny, but also
because, well, Cindy was sitting at the table in front of me, at 9
When I wasn't reading, I was in the fortunate position of not
looking at Cindy but seeing when she turned looked at me. She did
this one too many times (three) and the boyfriend turned. Not all
the way, mind you, but enough past Cindy to acknowledge, fuck, I'm
He couldn't fight me because his back was to me and he didn't have
any idea how many times I had looked at his girlfriend and had he
had known, he'd have been shocked at how few times it had occurred
(once) thereby destroying any moral authority he intended to
requisition for a fight. And he couldn't fight his friend cuz, well,
the friend hadn't done anything, yet. And he couldn't fight his
girlfriend cuz, well, she did these weird dances.
Wait. Slow down. In order to understand these weird dances, you
gotta understand some context about the Chinese. I'm going to use a
metaphor a friend told me that comes from Indian folklore, the city
mouse and country mouse. We have the same imagery in America, the
country bumpkin and city slicker, but I like mice, especially the
imagery of Chinese city mice founding a civilization that, for the
last 400 years, western country mice have ruled.
The Chinese are, at times, quite proud of their civility looking
down at lao wai mice, westerners, as savages who can be easily
bested at their national sports, ping pong and badmitton. Chinese
paintings, calligraphy, music and most aspects of Chinese culture
(even their art of fighting) are all designed to highlight the
equisiteness of beauty, of refinement, of lightness.
But then the heavy hand of human passion flashes through the body of
a female Chinese mouse and the surrounding male Chinese city mice
are utterly flabbergasted at how to respond to what becomes
acceptable and ignorable behavior. They freeze. Which is what I did,
too, along with the boyfriend, the friend, and any other patron or
staff who happened to catch Cindy's dance.
It only lasted six seconds, if that, but it was quite primal, by
which I mean that her behavior existed in the netherland between the
boundaries of that which is acceptable and ignored and that which is
aberrant and worthy of comment, a question, a look, perhaps, if
necessary, or perhaps, if possible, because primal behavior throws
you off guard and says, hey, by rolling my head, slowly, and
throwing my arms in the air, casually, but quickly, I can signal to
everybody watching that I'm going to do whatever the fuck I want.
Because it's normal.
Therefore, as I stated, everybody watching took note of Cindy's
acceptable behavior and, as the only civilized response, cleverly
April, another Chinese girl, appeared out of the blue, wearing a
white sunday dress tinged with blue, behind me, on my left. Her
boyfriend, too, tried vainly, too, to do something, too, but the
focus swelling up between the other two, April and Cindy, tore apart
when Big Bob, a big, young Chinese teenager, not yet 2 and 20 years,
came out of the restaurant, walking in to April's path.
Pity, I thought, as April and her boyfriend fluttered away. I had
rather looked forward to a fight. I glanced to the right at
Samantha, another Chinese woman, her back to me, her boyfriend, his
face to me.
I'm compressing maybe 20 minutes of eating beef-on-a-stick, lamb-on-
a-stick, eye-of-cow-on-a-stick, something random-on-a-stick,
drinking beer, and reading Twain, when Samantha turned her body
round and glanced at Cindy.
Cindy danced her primal dance, again.
This time, either all the patrons and staff were watching, or they
could feel, Cindy shake her head, rile her hair with her hands,
throw her hands up in the air, quickly, uncasually, savagely, and
attracting as much attention as possible, bringing them down, and
uncurling one hand to point her forefinger at Samantha, who,
frightened, shook her head, violently, and in case that wasn't clear
enough, shook her right hand, violently, palm up, as if to say, no,
as clearly, decisively, and non-violently as possible.
And in case THAT wasn't clear enough, Samantha and her boyfriend
jumped up and left.
I've never seen anything like it. When Cindy pointed her finger at
Samantha, everyone (in my view, save for Cindy and Samantha), froze
and it felt as if the center of attention, the center of the
universe for every human mouse within 10 meters of these two Chinese
women, slowly, methodically, definitively, and finitely, shifted, in
one heartbeat, unskipped, from Cindy to Samantha.
And since Samantha gave up the fight, it shifted, back, to Cindy.
I waited a few heartbeats, not skipping, just savoring the
impressiveness of Cindy's victory, before I finished off a half cup
of beer, a salute to a fighter. Whereas black is the color of a
fighter before battle, other colors must be used to celebrate, such
as yellow, the bright shirt the boyfriend was wearing before
surrendering it to Cindy, who heretofore had been entirely attired
Cindy put on the yellow shirt. I looked up and thought, ok, granted,
it's a little chilly after the rain earlier today, but, um, it's the
end of July and, frankly, who the hell could possibly be cold after
fighting a battle like that?
Cindy answered me by removing whatever black shirt or blouse she had
been wearing, sitting straight up, pulling the yellow jersey down,
tight against her body, and, in silouette, she offered me a glimpse
of the breasts, and nipples, of a warrior goddess, and, if you asked
me, yellow is the color of what, I can honestly say, my heart just
skipped a beat.