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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Strube

from Mao to Tao

Just when things couldn’t get any more exciting, I decide to shack up with Mao. 

I didn’t have a choice, really. It’s just the thing you do when you become a Shexpat. He’s older and charming, loves long walks in the evenings, and promised me good luck and fortune. As soon as our nomadic eyes locked, it was all over. I melted like Lo Mein in a noodle soup. Three days later, we moved in together, long-lost lovers reunited under a smoggy sky. 

For all Eastern purposes, it’s the ideal relationship. I cook; he cuddles. I relax; he entertains me with daunting acrobatics. I shower; he stares through the foggy glass in awe. I don’t understand a lick of what he says. He cleans himself. He’s fascinated by rubbing my legs and nibbling my toes. 

That tiger. MEOW Mao.

As I write this, I wonder if I have become that woman. You know, That Woman. We’ve all met her, the crazy cat lady. She reads her feline’s horoscope each morning and her house is often decorated with cathead magnets. She doesn’t notice the litter box fumes have sent all potential men running into the hills, and she prefers stroking fur over man skin any day of the week.

Oh Doctor, please help:

I’m rapidly approaching 32, unmarried, and living alone. In China. In the freezing winter. I spend my days teaching Korean children how to play Hot Cross Buns on the xylophone. On special occasions, I rock out to Mary Had a Little Sheep on the recorder. My late afternoons are filled with grade B movies streaming through my three English channels and my steamy nights are filled with shexcapades with Mao, my cat whose named after a dictator.

Oh God, has it come to this? I really thought I’d have a better grip on things by now. I imagine myself as a little girl, cashmere socks rolled up to my knees, a glowing twinkle in my eye.

“What do you wanna be when you are grown up, Jennifer?” 

“The wife of a marxist cat.”

Um, can someone please perform an intervention? My diagnosis may be even worse than I thought. Perhaps beyond repair. Is there not some ancient herb that could cure me? Could inhaling Ginseng and intravenously pumping Sorghum Gum through my veins cleanse my chi of such fantasies? Really, I’ll try anything.

(Except for the 8 Tribute Treasure Chrysanthemum Tea.)

As I left him this morning under my wrinkled sheets, his hazel eyes peered up at me. Through his gentle roar, I swear I heard him whisper, “Farewell my Concubine.” That is when I knew. Something’s gotta give. Granted, it’s statistically proven that 70-80 percent of single women over the age of 28 have a cat in their house. I heard it once on AM radio. But ladies, it’s time to take the Chinese bullet train less traveled.

Because I am having a wild international love affair with Mao.

And when you write that sentence on a blog, you know it’s time for a revamp.

Thankfully, my birthday is two days from now — another year, an approaching spring, another day to play the xylophone. Until then, I leave you with a poem by the real Chairman:

The vast frozen land is covered with ice.

And the snow flits far-flung in the sky,

On both sides of the Great Wall,

The empty wilderness survives.

From upriver to downstream

The roaring currents disappear.

The mountains dance like silver snake.

The highlands slither like huge wax elephants

Vying the sky for height.

When comes the sunny day?

The land is dressed up with bright sun and clear white snow…

That proud son of Heaven,

Genghis Khan enjoys shooting the big Hawk with his bow.

Alas, they are now gone as history:

The real great hero is coming up now.

(And I think he’s under my sheets.)

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