Thor's China Diary

Video Wisdom

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 Here is one of  life's less profound questions. Should you judge a woman by the quality of the videos she lends you? Maybe adventurous women think alike, or maybe they read the same agony columns in women's magazines, but lending out a video seems to one of their inspired ways of beginning to weave that gossamer network of obligations that start an affair. The emboldended gent presumably then invites her over to watch it. Ladies, you take a risk.

I recall one Katerina, a shapely blonde from Odessa, who lent me something called "Magic Moments". I loved her figure, and she really did radiate a sexual alure (which wasn't altogether selective). Ah, the video. A pedestrian thing, a martini romance, big on fast cars, cigarettes, expensive apartments, miniscule on the passion of ideas. Katerina, it diminished you I'm afraid. I saw her in the street a couple of years later, or she saw me. Was it an accident? I mean the change. Alas, she had mutated into something resembling the back end of a tank, and had just opened a dress shop.

Now we have Hua Shi, a university full of literary types. I've been banished from the virginal crush of undergraduate classes, exiled to the postgraduates. All 306 of them. A little frayed around the edges, these slightly older femmes, not quite the fresh blush of belief and desire as their eighteen year old sisters, but maybe wiser in the ways of the world. I suppose there's a statistical probability in all of this, but there was a young woman strategically parked in a front seat the day I took over her class. Following all the rules of instant intuitive calculation she cornered me as soon as class finished, followed me to the bicycle stand, walked me down the road. Now it's a weekly ritual. The first time she talked about romantic movies. Loved "The Bridges of Maddison County". That bit about an older man. The second time she offered to lend me videos. The third time she turned up with a selection. Only one I hadn't seen. Something called "Bitter Moon".

Now I've got a short fuse with movies. If they're not talking to me soul within ten minutes, I give them the heave 'o. Well, she does have a certain alure about her, this girl, and nowadays (let alone in the olden days) it's not too often I'm an object of allure (for passion or profit). So in the interests of friendly relations, as the diplomats say, I put up with an hour of "Bitter Moon". If ever a movie was made of green cheese, this is it. Story of a failed author and his broad. Narrated by the failed author, and he must have slept with the producer's wife to get this stuff onto celluloid. About the time they got heavily into sado-masochistic sex I began to laugh. Should I buy my new Chinese lady friend a whip and a pair of handcuffs?

"Video Wisdom" copyrighted to Thor May 1999; all rights reserved
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