Hi there. I’m an ugly American. Oh, no need for photo attached: real ugly is about aura, not aspect. Take my word for it; in thought, word, and when I think only other uglies are watching, deed, I’m as far from light and grace as the bottom of Hitler’s jackboots.
Don’t blame me for being a black hole, though. I’m just absorbing the reality of my China experience and reconstituting it in a skewed dimension entirely of my own making, where my ugly pronouncements and judgments repel heathy souls like anti-matter, but draw other ugly vortexes into gravitational fields of self-righteous mockery that echo through the eternal abyss.
The mathematical principle on which my ugliness rests is that everything and everyone Chinese carries a metaphysical denominator of minus one – all of it ‘less than’ the right side of ought, on the two-dimensional, linear scale with which I measure thousands of years and billions of lives and, in my self-ordained wisdom, find it all lacking.
Being this ugly didn’t come easy. I got this way through years of discipline. Sure, when I got to China, I was much like the deluded backpackers you see wandering around smiling at everything. I too knew the thrill of being somewhere where nobody looked, talked, or thought like me. Then I finally asked why that was, and simple empirical deduction revealed that since I rule, people unlike myself suck, proportional to their degree of not-me-ness.
Once I had the theory in mind, evidence cropped up everywhere: cars, customs, food, films, none of it remotely resembled what I know to be best. Sorry, the truth shall make you ugly.
And you know what? Ugliness has led to some beautiful friendships. I mean, it’s hard to get to know other foreigners here, especially the ugly-haters who turn their backs on you right in the middle of a good story about the boneheaded handyman who tried to fix the grabage disposal with chopsticks. But I’ve grown skilled at sniffing out my own kind. We’re all over this city, and the U.N. could learn from how we overcome national, political, and religious differences in the solidarity of China-bashing. We congregate, of course, in Western eateries by day and Western bars by night; you’ll know us by our sudden bursts of derisive laughter, followed by sidelong glances to see if anyone in earshot has overheard and is offended.
You wouldn’t be the first to wonder why the hell I don’t just go home, if everything here is so contemptible. Asking that question marks you as one who can never understand the rosy glow of superiority that ugliness bestows. The only thing that makes sense here is my lifestyle. I get money and dates in Beijing just for not being Chinese. Back home nothing made sense. I was just as cool and much more hardworking, but nobody seemed to notice or care, particularly women and bosses. Now, I’ve got a devoted girlfriend who condones my ugliness, and a comfortable salary merited by not much more than my pasty white hide. Sweet, huh?
I feel the same way about my ugly as the sassy sisters on talk shows feel about their obesity – it defines me; it makes me special. If you don’t like it, don’t look. Or listen.