Dear Xi Jinping
Love letter from a forlorn fangirl
Text by Elizabeth Peng & Photos by Marlon Rueberg
It’s not easy being a woman in today’s China, Big Xi.
I spent much of my life being a dutiful daughter and pupil of the State and then, BAM. I’m 27. Not a girl, not yet a woman.
All of a sudden, I’m considered sheng, or leftover, unwanted like a dried out lily bulb that’s browning at the tips, waiting for her day in the sun…and all this because I’m unmarried?
Isn’t it enough that I’m saving myself for you?
Mother wickedly compares me to meal scraps that are thrown into Sunday porridge like an afterthought. Turning and turning in the stew, my once defining flavors and attributes blend into a meager one, savory. The ground rice sinks to the bottom and chars, adding a bitter tinge.
Even still, I guzzle every last drop because, as the saying goes, each grain of rice left in the bottom of one’s bowl is akin to the number of pimples a future spouse will have, or something.
Not that I’m waiting with bated breath, it’s more like bloated gut… I hope you don’t mind! ;)
Between us, I think Chinese folklore is so dumb. Do you remember superstar Tang dynasty poet Li Bai, whose Quiet Night Thought poem we had to memorize in grade school? People talk about how romantic he was when he attempted to capture the moon’s reflection in the Yangtze from his boat, drowning instead.
That rotten egg was a drunk, and that was an accident!
Do you think much of our SAR sisters? No, not SARS, I mean those in Hong Kong, silly! Little Mei just got back from her honeymoon (ugh) and I asked her to take pictures of the latest fashions for me in and around Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
She’s so dumb she only took pictures of people’s shoes! They’re all quite beautiful though, like little postcards of moments frozen in time, where everyone seems to be wearing the same darn thing.
No really, there is an Italian-made shoe with a pretty little bow and golden clasp that everyone wears.
I can’t even begin to pronounce its name, “Ferragamo.”
It sounds something like “FAIR,” from My Fair Lady, “AH” like Ah Q (my favorite dumb dumb!), “GAAAAA” (open wide!) and “NO” like “No! I will not marry you” (JK) except with an “M” sound, not an “N”…hard, right?
My Chinese-American friend Delia says they are typically worn by older, foreign women in positions of power, like former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, even shanzai DVD movie legend of My Fair Lady fame Audrey Hepburn, RIP.
Actress Tang Wei also wears them––she is not old or foreign, and after watching Lust, Caution, it’s clear that she’s in multiple positions of power! I admire her beauty: those wide-set eyes, that high nose bridge and petal-perfect lips.
This. Just. In. Baidu tells me Tang Wei was married in 2014 at tender 34…
There is hope for me yet!
Should I get a red pair? (Too obvious?) Or maybe black? (Too safe?) What Would Marx Do? I know, I know. It’d be a contrived subservience to inhuman, unnatural and imaginary appetites. In short, excess. Profligate. Nyet. Bu neng. Got it.
I guess we can’t all be blessed with the high pitch range of a Shandongnese soprano AKA Madame Peng AKA FLOC, a veritable goddess that one! ;))
Some of us need tricks, or sensible flats, like that Dorothy girl in the populist parable film The Wizard of Oz.
But answer me this. There’s no such thing as yellow brick, right? Isn’t it gray and made of cement, like on the Great Wall?
Maybe marriage, like Oz and Confucianism, is just a trap.
I mean, what ever happened to women holding up half the sky?
I hate to say this, but I think I may be on to something. BRB daddy, I need to ring Little Mei…
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