When I lived in Beijing, I found the place to be crawling with Since I moved to Shanghai, I haven't been really been bothered by any guys who have tried to pick me purely on the merit of him being foreign. Most of them will attempt intelligent conversation or at the very least pretend that they have a lot of money. After not having contact with the I'm Special Because I'm Foreign expat guy for so long, I nearly forgot that they existed until a couple weeks ago when one tried to pick not just me up but my friend all in one, rather unimpressive swoop.
We were intently rifling through a book cart on a street corner. For those of you not versed in book carts, a very Shanghai thing, they are literally vendors towing wooden carts full of bootlegged books. The selection is not that great and consists of a pretty schizophrenic selection of books from either A list (Malcolm Gladwell) or D list (Sophie Kinsella) authors but still each book costs only USD3 so they tend to be well worth a browse.
I had just picked up Huxley's Brave New World when I heard a voice next to me.
"I read that."
I turn and saw a short, squat, 30 something with beady eyes and a balding head.
"Yeah, is it good?" I asked silently wondering why good looking males never seem to browse bootleg book carts.
"It's okay." he pauses and then continues carefully articulating his words as if speaking to a child "Did you know? That author is a verrrry famous author,"
My friend let out a loud snort of repressed laughter and I felt my inner nerd prickling with indignance. "I know he's famous." I glared.
"Thanks for telling us though. That was so... helpful." my friend chimed in, her voice laced with barely contained mean girl glee.
I'll have to give it to baldy. While most guys would have taken the hint from the way I was stabbing him with my pupiles and left he continued, "Oh. Yeah. You girls look pretty smart."
"You know how I know you girls are smart?" he continued unfazed.
"Your English is so good."
This was so unexpected that it caused us to stop and turn to look at him incredulously.
Finally my friend spoke, "Gee, thanks."
Sensing he may have misspoke, the guy faltered. "Oh, you girls aren't from Shanghai are you?"
"Are you students?" he pressed on hopefully.
I guess for some people, if you can't be a local, the next best thing is if you're a student. Financial desperation is almost a good a target as passport desperation for a smarmy guy with not many - or any - redeeming qualities?
"No," I replied evenly, my eyes unconsciously narrowing (Y later told me that I looked like I was about to club him over the head with my copy of Brave New World), "are you a student?"
"No, I work for a magazine," bald man said uncomfortably, shrinking away from my gaze.
"Oh really? Do tell us. Which one?" I purred venomously.
"You wouldn't have heard of it. It's a magazine for..." he pauses and on his face, I saw a look that seemed oddly reminiscent and then I remembered - it was that all too familiar look of wheels turning in a dim head that I had seen guys from Beijing get. Memory lane! "...It's a magazine for doctors!" he finished looking at us obviously hoping that we wouldn't question him further.
Much to his relief, my friend and I decided to let it drop. We paid for our books and headed on our way. As I carried that armful of books down the road I thought how funny it was that I had already been treated to a story that night without having to read a thing.