Saturday, November 04, 2006


On this past October 31st, I think we gave Zhangye the best Halloween it's ever seen. My students didn't know all that much about it, so I enlightened them in class during the week before Halloween about what it was all about. This segued nicely into having the students tell scary stories. I wasn't sure how that would go, but a number of students were actually pretty good at it, and a few stories got genuine screams from the girls in class (meaning, the majority of the class). Knowing full well that if there was time at the end of class I would be asked to tell a story, I brushed up on "The Tell-Tale Heart" and ended up telling it to a few classes. I don't think any lesson I've done has gotten the students paying more attention to their classmates' presentations than this one.

Danielle, a Halloween fan, also had the idea of holding a Halloween party in her apartment with one of her favorite classes. Me and Gary teach that class as well, and we showed up in costume fashionably late. We could hear the party going on from several floors below, and everyone screamed (in delight?) when we came in. We came in at the tail-end of two students being wrapped in toilet paper, which the students would not tire of during the two hours, at one point wrapping their three foreign teachers together. We had previously had a foreign teacher pumpkin-carving party, and the students liked the pumpkins so much they asked to take them home. It was overall a big success, with bobbing for apples, numerous people being locked in the bathroom (for instance, me), and dancing to suggestive Jamie Fox songs.

After the party the three of us went out to give candy to strangers and visit Gary's friend's bar. Gary took the lead with the bowl of candy, and would approach random people on the street, especially those walking alone, and say nothing while holding out a piece of candy to them. He had the best and most frightening costume and the foreigners tend to be stared at uncertainly anyway, so he got mixed reactions. Some were amused and thanked him for the candy (to which he wouldn't respond), while many were having none of it and stayed at a safe distance. One English-speaking young man wanted to know where he was from, and he silently pointed up slowly towards the moon in response. There is a young boy who always stares at me with a worried expression in a restaurant I eat at regularly, and when we stopped in there he looked absolutely terrified.

But the best moment came when we brought Halloween to a recently opened restaurant nearby. This is probably one of the nicest restaurants in the city now, with three floors and a guard to keep an eye on the many cars. Me and Danielle hung back as Gary went in, and I saw what was coming, because the three uniformed young girls at the entrance had their heads turned the other way and at first didn't see us at all. When Gary was directly in front of them with arm outstretched, they turned around and simultaneously screamed at the top of their lungs and literally ran away. This of course had the full attention of the room full of businessmen and Party cadres, and a young man wearing a suit came over to Gary and said "thank you.... now leave quickly", while shooing him away with his hand. I felt it was quite an accomplishment for foreigners to be kicked out of a restaurant in small-town China.

It turned out that Gary's friend was not at his bar, and to our disappointment there were no other customers for us to freak out. I suppose it was a Tuesday night after all. However, the boss's gorgeous and very likeable girlfriend was there, and she got a great kick out of us, and hung out and took some photos with us. Most likely I'll be in Zhangye for Halloween next year, and if all goes well my American friends I met up with in Xi'an will be here as well, so I can only hope we top this year.

No comments: