For better or for worse, here’s a glimpse into the life a Chinese married couple.  That is of course to say a Chinese couple and not all.  Do not mistake any editorialized writing as an attempt to sway you’re opinion in one direction or another regarding gender roles and familial life in China.  I have simply taken one example of a Chinese family I’ve found amusing and presented the facts, albeit somewhat emphasized towards the funnier side of it all.

I met  石作香(Miss Shi) through Will, who’s been in China close to three years now, has traveled, studied and taught English. Miss Shi is a lawyer and, like many middle class Chinese professionals, an entrepreneur on the side.  She has dipped into the business sector of English schools (a hot item at the moment) by way of Will’s contacts with foreigners.

Miss Shi has unbelievable focus.  At no point in her actions does it seem that she is wasting time by deciding what to do next.  It’s as though she wakes up every morning and already knows exactly what she’s going to do for the day, right down to when she rests her feet.  But for as punctual and driven person as she is, there is nothing rigid about Miss Shi.  Her eyes rarely show it, but she is in actually an easy-going person, with the ability to improvise, with the ability to wander off topic (she just choses not to).

Miss Shi seems to thrive off of serving others.  She and routinely delivers bags of vegetables and bottles of cooking oil to Will’s apartment, which she arranged and signed the contract for.  She prides herself on her cooking, on her clean home, on her job as a lawyer.  As the mother of two, she is the rock of the family.

袁斌 (Yuan Bing) is a truck driver, and Miss Shi’s husband.  The first time I met him he ambled through the doorway of Will’s apartment, sleepily lifting a half smoked cigarette to his drooping mouth.  He tossed the cigarette and shook hands with Will and then spotted me.  He gave me this sqinty-eyed grin, the kind of smile a young guy might expect from one of his dad’s old drinking buddies.  He spent most of our afternoon together snoring on Will’s bed while Miss Shi and I chatted.   One time I went to their apartment for lunch, and when I got there, Yuan Bing was passed out in the bedroom while Miss Shi bustled away in the kitchen.  He eventually woke up and joined me in the living room, shirtless and smoking.  He knocked back two and half cups of  白酒 (rice wine) during lunch, smoked another cigarette, and went back to sleep.  Miss Shi is the fussy one.  The one you call in a jam.  The one who always knows what to do.  Yuan Bing is the chilled out one, the one you’d want to share beer and swap dirty jokes with, the one that always makes you feel comfortable, cuz hell, he’s pretty comfortable.

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