Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hubby and I have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It's always a bit strange on holidays, as right now we're 14 hours ahead of US Central Standard Time  - our Thanksgiving is drawing to a close while our friends and family in the US are still in bed! Today we headed out to the same restaurant as last year for a fabulous three-course meal with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, veggies... 

So, so good. Definitely better than the Thanksgiving meals we've tried at various fancy hotels. And for dessert later on tonight, we have some Starbucks' pecan tarts waiting for us in the kitchen. (Hubby is a southern boy, so it wouldn't be Thanksgiving without some pecan pie!)

Speaking of food, I still haven't told you about that luncheon I went to, have I? First of all, you have to know a little bit about my friend. She's a little ball of energy: always on the go, always on the phone with this person or that person, talks up a storm and never takes no for an answer. She has far greater confidence in my Chinese language ability than she should, and while our conversations always start out nice and slow, just a few sentences in and she's rattling away a mile a minute, while my head is spinning just trying to keep up. So, a few weeks ago, she says she wants to invite me to have lunch on a certain day in November. She says there are going to be a lot of ladies there, and she has a certain number of people she can invite, and she wants me to be her guest, yadda yadda... Now, at this point, she starts to lose me on what the luncheon is actually for. But I tell her sure, sure, I can come; it sounds like fun. A couple of weeks later, my husband is talking with her and tries to get a few more details. He finds out that there are going to be about 200 women there, and it's a luncheon where they're going to demo some health and beauty products. Oh, now I'm starting to get a better picture, I think. I've been to something similar before, where they let you try some innovative skin product, and then try to sell it to you for an arm and a leg. But she's assured him that I'm not obligated to buy anything; it's just for fun. Okay. 

So, on the appointed day, I make my way out to the address I've been given. It's a hotel banquet hall; the concierge at the desk tells me to take the escalator upstairs. As I reach the second floor, my stomach sinks. The foyer is crowded with women in sequined gowns, velvets, stilletos... I'm in a casual black dress with a grey pullover sweater and knee-high black boots. Ack! So underdressed! I'm also the only foreigner in a sea of Chinese women. And of course my friend is nowhere to be seen, and isn't answering her phone... After several minutes of standing awkwardly by the entrance while everyone else gives me the once-over, my friend finally appears. She's all decked out in a gorgeous embroidered red qipao with a fur capelet, her gleaming dark hair freshly cut in a '30s bob - the quintessential Shanghai girl. Stunning! (Why, oh why didn't she tell me - or Seth - that this was a dress-up event?) 

Once inside the banquet hall, I realize that there is a stage/runway set up - and that they've moved me from my friend's table at the back of the room to a table front and center, right at the end of the runway. Umm... I take my seat between two middle-aged, obviously wealthy Chinese women, whom I've never met. Awkward! Luckily, the food begins coming soon after. What follows is 2 1/2 hours of food, interspersed with entertainment (drummers, acrobats, break dancers) and awards for the host company's top sales-reps. Just as the final dish is (finally) brought to the table, the fashion show begins. (Oh, did I mention that this company sells not just health and beauty products, but a full line of shapewear as well? As in, girdles, thigh slimmers, all forms of Spanx-style garments. See where this is going?) The lights go down, and the models begin to walk the runway - yep, in their shapewear. But this isn't Victoria's Secret - think "flesh-colored, full-coverage, sucks it all in and gives you abs of steel" shapewear. Altogether so NOT what I'm expecting!

The crowning moment (for me) comes as the models are demoing how the shapewear can be worn under activewear (do people really do that?). Six women, strutting down the runway in hoodies, thigh slimmers, and tennis shoes, jauntily carrying badminton rackets, followed by a tall, athletic man with sculpted cheekbones and feathered hair, carrying his own badminton racket and wearing nothing but tennis shoes and a thigh slimmer. It's all I can do not to start giggling out loud.The runway ends right at my table, and he's standing there posing with his badminton racket, turning this way and that - this guy is in Spanx, people! How can he keep a straight face? Somehow I manage to keep it together until it's over - but I laugh the whole way home!

It just goes to show you, when it comes to living overseas, never assume you know what to expect in a given situation - you just might end up spending the day eating roast duck with wealthy Asian women while watching male models strut around in shapewear!


  1. LOL...such a terrific story!!!! What an unusual luncheon....least you got some free food and entertainment!

    BTW, your package went postal....hopefully it'll get to you before 2011....ha....just kidding..I hope...

    happy thanksgiving:)

  2. Oh my goodness, this was hilarious! Quite an adventure and you handled it well.