This oddly titled post actually serves as the wrap-up to our three-part “Visit to Qingyuan Mountain/Old Man Rock” series.

Obvious premise: Put a foreigner in China–and by foreigner we mean a non-Far-East-Asian person–and the person is going to be stared at. A lot. Known fact, no need to dwell on it.

But in my nearly 14-year relationship with China, I’ve passed now through three types of staring. And it’s that third one we’re going to highlight today. Disclaimer: This of course reflects my own experience. I’m not, say, a woman with one African and one Latino parent, so yeah, we’re talking just Dumb White Guy in China stuff.

OK, then.

First type of staring: You’re a single Dumb White Guy in China. People stare at you sometimes like you’re a circus freak.

Second type of staring: You have a Chinese girlfriend, fiancee or wife. The staring sometimes takes on a different dimension: He must be a predator of some sort, deceiving our sister there into some evil foreigner type of relationship, or She must be a Gold-digger, looking for that green card, or…You go, girl!…planning to cheat him out of his extensive Lao Wai fortune, all of which he’s probably carrying around in that faded green backpack.

Now on to the third type of staring. I touched on this in an earlier blog entry, “Gawking on Gulang Yu: The Revenge Photos,” but here we are again.

Third type of staring: People stare not so much at you, or your wife, but at your kids.

Now, it’s fine if they look at your children in a pleasant sort of way, but when they stare en masse, and for far too long, as Jimi Hendrix put it, “That ain’t too cool.”

So there we were, my daughters and I, enjoying ourselves in front of the Lao Zi statue at Qingyuan Mountain.

I took some pictures of the statue, and was then taking some pictures of my girls, like this one:

But when I was about to take a later shot, I noticed that an entire line of tourists, like crows on a telephone wire, had caught sight of my youngsters and were staring at them like they were witnessing some sort of optical illusion, and simply could not avert their eyes:

They look amiable enough in this shot, but this staring went on for several minutes. We went here and there, and this group of people just followed us with their eyes the whole way. Yes, tour bus people, my daughters are adorable. And smart–they do vector calculus just for fun. And they’re extraordinarily well behaved. But C’mon, don’t overdo it.

If you see them, have some courtesy, have some sympathy, and some taste. Use all your well-learned politesse, or I’ll lay your tour bus to waste.

Even the girls, who generally learned to shrug this stuff off quickly, were starting to feel a bit uncomfortable.

I know what you might be thinking, so Yes, we could have left, but why should we? We made quite the effort to get there. And Yes, I could have politely asked these people to stop, but prior experience suggests they would not have done so, and it would have required taking the girls even closer to these folks. And Yes, I could have said some abrupt things to them to make a point, but that’s not my style–or at least not the sort of thing I want to demonstrate in front of a 4-year old and a 2-year old–so I just tried to keep the kids active and focused on other things…which of course these people ended up finding even more stare-worthy.

Finally, this group got up to leave. But one woman in particular just wouldn’t friggin’ blink or stop staring at the girls even as they were on their way out. If there had been a stone wall in front of her, she would have bumped into it. And I admit, by this point, I would have broken out into evil, evil laughter when she did.

As they came by us, I tried to make the point by taking this woman’s picture–that has sometimes brought people to their senses, even garnered an apology or two–but not even that phased her.

So here she is, Ms. Orange Jacket, who could not mind her manners and instead STARED AT MY KIDS LIKE A STUNNED BUNNY FOR TEN MINUTES STRAIGHT. This has won her a spot here in this next Revenge Photo, where you can now pretend to stare at her unabashedly for as long as you’d like:

Have a nice day.


Related:
Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated