Friday, November 14, 2008

jonny on the spot

Let me tell you about my friend, Jack. I have three Chinese friends/students named Jack, but this particular Jack stands out from the rest, mostly because he's always there. Every time Ryan or I participate in a fun activity on campus, Jack somehow catches word about it and shows up. At first, I admit, I was a little apprehensive about his dedication to being around wherever we were, but now it is a joy to see him. Jack's English is fairly poor (and highly amusing at times), but it is improving. A good example of his English level occurred last week when Jack found out that Tim was really sick. Like the rest of Tim's Chinese friends, Jack was worried about Tim. Many of these friends took it upon themselves to visit him and tell him to "drink more hot water." Jack decided a text message was enough.

"Hi Tim. I'm Jack. I heard you were sinking..."

Jack's favorite pastime is to put Ryan and me on the spot. Most Chinese people love to see we foreigners perform, but Jack can't get enough of it. Two weeks ago, at the Karaoke Competition, Jack made sure Ryan, Tim, and I had front row seats. Looking back, this was probably to make it easier to force us onto the stage. He continually tried to get us to perform more. "Have a try," he said, with a smile on his face so big, his eyeballs disappeared. The epitome of his pushing came when he tried to convince Ryan to make a "nunchuck" performance on stage. Honestly, I can't remember how our conversation even came to this. Ryan, of course, has no idea how to use nunchucks and would have either made a fool of himself or knocked himself out. After Ryan refused, Jack tried harder.

"It doesn't matter! Have a try!"

While Ryan didn't make a nunchuck performance, we didn witness one, impromptu, that night. During the competition we went back-stage to congratulate some of our students. Somehow, one of the students we had just met the day before came and found us back-stage. Ryan had had a conversation with this student about kung fu and the student told Ryan that someday he would teach him for free. What ensued back-stage seemed surreal. He said hello to us and placed his duffel bag on a nearby table. He then tore off his winter coat to reveal a full kung fu outfit. He pulled a pair of metal nunchucks out of his bag and began his performance. It all happened so fast that all Ryan and I could do was look at each other. The performance was fast and furious. It ended up being a little too furious as the nunchucks accidentally connected with each other, shattering one of them in mid-air, spraying shrapnel in all directions. We covered our faces, and the student left, a little embarassed. "What just happened?" was all we could say...

Now, I've caught onto Jack's "have a try" game and try my best to turn the tables whenever I can. Tuesday of last week was "Single Day" in China, which is the opposite of Valentine's Day. From what my students have told me, this is a day for single friends to go out together and celebrate their collective loneliness. If you are not single on this day, it would be frowned upon for you and your significant other to be seen on the town. Basically, if you're "taken," stay home on Single Day. Our friends, Robert and Billy, play in a rock band together and decided to put on a small concert in one of the classrooms (the show included a performance from our nunchuck friend; this time no one or thing was hurt, emotionally or physically). As you might have guessed, they asked Ryan and me to perform as well. I brought my guitar and played a few songs (Iron & Wine, John Vanderslice, and, accompanied by Ryan, Wonderwall... again). Jack wasn't satisfied.

"No more?" he asked.

"You go, Jack," I said as I pushed him in the back, "Have a try!"

"No, no, no," he pleaded, waving his hands, "I can't play!"

"It doesn't matter! Have a try!"

He got my joke and LOLed. Later that night he walked Ryan and me out to our taxi, carrying my guitar for me along the way.

"Let me carry it, Jack," I said.

"No, I must thank you for coming," he said with another big smile.

And so our friendship has formed, based a continual plea for the other to perform. Of course, I already know the outcome: It will always be the Ryan and me.


Yesterday, Ryan ate lunch with two of our close friends, Vince and Ken. Seemingly out of the blue, Vince gave Ryan an idea on how to improve their class. He told Ryan he should start telling stories from The Book. Taken aback, Ryan began to answer both of their questions about The Book.

We don't know how this happened or where it's going. All we know is, The Boss never does anything the same way twice. And so we wait on Him...


ruthie said...

I love the sound of this Jack kid. My egging people on to preform has never been a happily received. I get his enthusiasm. Perhaps you should bring out some "Table for Glasses" next time.

Anonymous said...

Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
I've been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

Thumbs up, and keep it going!