This Bar Girl Named #

August 31, 2011

I met a bargirl.

She’s tall, charming, elegant, smart, polite and of course beautiful.

We went to a movie theater and ordered popcorn and iced sodas.

We watched Cars 2 in 3D.

Cars 2 is about a tow truck named Mater who doesn’t want to get rid of his dents because they are memories.

To be honest I was thrilled to be seen with her.

In the lobby she asked me what kind of girl I preferred. So I skirted the question by asking her what kind of girl she perceived herself to be.

She said the international kind.

I asked her what she meant by the international kind.

She said tall and beautiful and compared herself to a Victoria Secret model. I must add a side note here and say that this was a little narcissistic of her to say but in reality it was not far from the truth.

As you can imagine she refused to hold my hand during the 3D Cars 2 movie.

After the popcorn and iced sodas were emptied, we walked around the biggest newest shopping mall in Xiamen

She asked me how often I went to Shanghai or Hong Kong to go shopping. Side note: I’ve never been brand-shopping in Shanghai or Hong Kong. So I asked why she would go to those places when she had this nice and competent shopping mall very close to her own home. She said that this shopping mall was lower quality and there are more options in those cities. She said all this while we passed a Zara for kids and the Starbucks sitting next to a Calvin Klein underwear shop.

Nonetheless, when a thought of inferiority is planted it grows. So I began to wonder if this mall was really cheaper and less desirable than those in Shanghai. I’ve always been a sucker for the best.

Then she began talking about the house she was going to buy. The mall had a model of the city and she showed me the little plastic pieces where her new home was to be and when it was going to be finished. It looked nice and all I guess. She then began telling me that I should buy a car because waiting for a taxi is really quite troublesome. I told her that I wanted to buy the cheap Chinese van that they refer to as the “loaf of bread car.” She looked at me as if I had said something wrong. My Mid-Western sensibilities were kicking in and I could feel that the Victoria Secret model was distancing her from me.

She’s 22. She makes more money than I do though her line of work is a bit different from mine. She’s a bargirl.

So I began asking her about her work. I suspected that asking a bargirl about her work could prove to be tricky business. Nevertheless, at this transition period in Chinese history anything goes so I asked her about her bar business. I’m nosy. Plus I finally started reading Donald Miller’s book and it has me thinking about stories and character arcs and how people change because they want something so bad that they give everything in-order to get it.

Who was she and what did she want?

She’s a beautiful girl from a poor family in an exploding economy with a tiny middle class and Shanghai boutiques. She wants money and status. Face and honor.

So what circus hoop does she have to jump through to get that? She dresses up in short skirts and dolls makeup on her twenty-year-old skin so she can lure the most drinking-aging-beer-bellied men to her boat. A number is pinned to her short skirt so they can distinguish her from the other short skirts with other numbers on them.

The bar girl is China’s new middle class. In a land of a billion people whose average salary is less than 4,000RMB a month she can make about 20-30,000RMB a month. She is no boss or government official but she’s somewhere in the middle sitting comfortably in her short skirt.

She’s been doing this for about a year now. So I being the curious one ask her about her first night at work. What was she thinking? What were her questions? What did the experienced girls tell her?

She said she was really nervous and shy. The skirts were really short for me at the time. The men were old and fat and would try to touch me. I couldn’t drink very much back then. My first night I dressed up like a Princess you know the Snow White. Yea, I know the Snow White . . . I bet you looked beautiful. She smiled.

I started thinking about the first night of this innocent girl from a small town doe eyed by all the lights, money, glamour and makeup being told that she could now dress up like a princess. It made me a bit sad. But she was winning. She was earning lots of money she was being a good Capitalist and a good Confucius daughter, she was taking care of thyself and thy-selves parents.

Have you changed? Oh, yes. Now it is easy for me.

I also asked her what she thinks of when she sees new girls coming to work for the first time. Now she is the experienced one. She is looking at them looking at all this for the first time.

She said that the new girls always look naïve, innocent, pure and a bit nervous.

It was ten o’clock.

She had to go labor.


Donald Miller’s new book just made it to paperback for 7.99 on Amazon but chances are I get it for free because he held a contest giving a free copy to the first thirty people to post this news on their blog and seeing that I am awake in China and the rest of you are probably sleeping somewhere out in the America’s. I win. Hey, he’s a nice guy.

And one more thing. I can’t watch Don’s video because I’m living behind the great Chinese firewall but I want you to watch it…enjoy.