Age sure is a relative concept.
Last week several of the teachers here went to dinner. One, who’s been in China for years, invited a former student of his, Theo. Would Theo fill our Scofield void created because a very urbane student with a gift for English and an interest in hanging out with the foreign teachers, adding tidbits about Chinese culture? Scofield’s now in Australia for graduate school and we don’t have another Chinese person who’s interested in filling his shoes.
Did Theo fill this void, a void I’m the only one to notice since I was here during Scofield’s days? Nope. And I can’t say, no, but in his own way Theo’s very nice or a good conversationalist or anything along those lines. Theo’s 29 going on 50. He’s a very young middle aged Chinese businessman. His English was fine. His manner got to me. He just came across as pushy and rude. Throughout dinner he took calls on his cell phone. He boasted about his career and asked no questions about other people. He smoked from start to finish and he just was so domineering.
I later learned that Theo was the former student who got married in November and hates his wife because it was an arranged marriage. He’s already found a girlfriend. My colleague went to a birthday party Theo threw for his girlfriend. He invited several people, publicly lavished her with presents including a big stuffed animal (to this American a mistress receives sophisticated gifts not toys, but there are cultural differences). It’s his life, but I just can’t feel sorry for him and that’s what he’s sort of angling for from his former teacher.
He bragged about about wanting to help us and sharing his vast knowledge of Jinan. One of the teachers asked him where she could find an arts and crafts store. He assured her he’d get her the information by the morning. A week’s passed and he hasn’t called.
Another thing that struck me was he was keen on us ordering more dishes. I think we had 8 people and were satisfied with 7 dishes. He kept saying he had to save face and order more. In the end, we convinced him it wasn’t necessary since he did bring three bags of take out food with him. Since he made the remark about saving face and talked so much about how successful he was I thought he planned to foot the bill. He didn’t, which was fine, but I just left thinking “how pompous.”
I do realize there are blowhards everywhere, but this guy seemed so young to be so pompous with people who’re 20 or more years older in most cases.