I’m reminded of this one time I was in a small town called Moganshan outside of Hangzhou. I went with the family of a little girl named Cici that I had been tutoring my first year in Shanghai. We took a road trip with their family friends which seemed like an eternity given the fact that both Cici’s “sisters”, Tina and Annie, both sitting on my left and right, decided to throw up and cry, sobbing tears into my pant leg. After we finally arrived and crawling out of the car looking like I just pissed myself we gathered hot plates, coal, lighter fluid and a cooler filled with meat, vegetables, and beer.

The weekend getaway was for having BBQ along the riverbanks and escaping the pollution in the city. In order to get there, we needed to walk through this bamboo forest. Along the way, Cici and her Mom were crouching down picking baby bamboo out of the ground and gnawing on them. Baby bamboo reminds me of what it would be like if you were to zoom in with a microscope on your head to get a close up of hair follicles. Each baby shoot is edible.

When they looked over at me and offered me one to try, it was as if they were testing me. I figured it a good opportunity to test my Chinese and sound confident saying, what I thought to be as, “we look like Pandas!”, but instead was met with an awkward stare followed by a synchronous burst of laughter. After I asked Cici what the matter was and clarifying what I had tried to say, she said I had said we looked like we’re eating chest hairs! (Face palm). Xiong mao, when you switch the tones between 1st and 2nd it’s the difference between meaning panda and chest hair…




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