Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How The East Was Won

There's a lot I want to share about China, but one of the most critical revelations I've had here relates to a rather unexpected topic:

Bare baby ass.

The Chinese people are a hardy, stalwart, lot. Over the course of thousands of years they've faced war, famine, disease, natural disasters, plague, and countless other hardships. Even today, with an entire generation of Chinese Gen-X'ers who spend the day sipping Starbucks carmel macchiatos and doodling with iPhones while shopping at Prada, there are still countless billions (literally) of people in this country who struggle on a daily basis to get by.

But they do it, just like they always have. The grit their teeth and face whatever obstacles life has thrown at them. Chinese people are tough, man, and they know it. They take pride in the determination, gumption and tenacity they possess as a nation and as a race. And I'll readily admit that I admire the strength and will displayed here on a daily basis, and wish I could posess even a fraction of the indomitable Chinese spirit.

And so I've been left to wonder: How is it that this nation has produced such stoicism?

The answer hit me a couple of days ago. It was bitter cold in Beijing. I was bundled-up warmly, from head to toe: long underwear, heavy coat, scarf, hat, gloves, and yet I was still freezing. I was working my way down a narrow-street - the kind that perfectly conducts bone-numbing gusts of cold wind - when I happened upon a Chinese mom and her toddler kid. The kid was bundled up from head to toe with so many layers that she looked like a miniature Hello-Kitty-pink version of the Michelin Man. As she waddle-danced around looking uncomfortable, her mom barked out something in Mandarin, and the kid stopped squirming, squatted, and let a massive river of steaming kid pee loose on the sidewalk.

Now, you'll note I didn't say "stopped, dropped her britches, squatted, etc, etc..." That's because, from my observations, Chinese kids under the age of 3 or so tend to cruise around in crotchless Garanimals.

As its been explained to me, this is a matter of practicality. There are still a lot of people who can't really afford the cost associated with disposable diapers, and having to deal with constantly cleaning soiled cloth nappies is something that can be extremely burdensome in areas where running/hot water can be a scarce commodity. So... if you've got a kid who's not potty-trained yet, crotchless attire allows them to take care of business without a whole lot of muss or fuss, regardless of when and where you are.

And this leads me to my theory on the intestinal fortitude of Chinese people.

Think about it. From the time of birth their genitals are exposed to the entire world. Subject to the elements: Freezing cold. Driving rain. Scorching heat. Gusting winds. Dust storms. Sand storms. Snow storms. Electrical storms. Passing animals. Small pebbles kicked up by passing cars. Ants. Plus the wandering eyes of the masses. (As you can see, I've given tremendous thought to the terrifying amount of things that could damage one's exposed nether region... I have nightmares).

Its no bloody wonder they're so tough. If you had your junk exposed 24/7 to Mother Nature and the entire neighborhood, you'd be able to withstand anything fate tossed your way, too. Me? I can barely muster the will to stand in front of a poorly-maintained urinal in a well-lit McDonalds, but as near as I can tell, Chinese kids all across this country are dropping trou on crowded streets, in sub-zero driving hail storms, to take a leak.

I'm sorry, man, but that'll make a person bad-ass.