When Buzzy and I were in China in 2002 about to depart the tour bus to check out Tiananmen Square, our tour guide Chen advised us, “There will be several men roaming around us and monitoring things. Be careful what jokes you make and things you say because they are government officials and we don’t want any incidents.”
Sure enough just as Chen had advised, out on the Square there were all these squirrely little dudes walking around in black suits with earphones. (You can see an example of what I’m talking about in the video above.) While they tried to look discreet, they stood out even more as they hovered around the tour groups and listened in.
On the Square, Chen explained to us Mao’s revolution and his rise to power, the history of the buildings on the Square and the many uses of the Square. She then answered some questions. However, when I asked her where was the boy who stopped the tanks, she very pointedly ignored me and said “OK we will now get back on the bus.”
I caught up with her as we walked back to the bus and told her that while I was very used to American women ignoring me when I tried to talk to them, she was giving me a complex that my act had now gone international. She smiled and told me that she would answer me on the bus.
Once we were back on the bus she then said, “Someone asked about the picture of the young man with the tanks and that occurred just to the left of the Square from where we were standing.” She pointed it out from the bus and then went on to explain the origins of the uprising and how it was squashed click here for more info.
Chen seemed to sympathize with the protesters as she discussed it and I then realized that the squirrels on the Square weren’t necessarily monitoring what we the tourists had to say but were actually eavesdropping on what the tour guides either did or might say. Hence, the reason that Chen did not answer my Tank Man question while we were on the Square.
For reasons I can not explain, other than it leads to a bad pun that I’ll inflict on you in a second, the inevitably of the Chinese rebelling in the future reminds me of a question and answer that appeared in Esquire magazine’s Style Guru Advice column. The questioner asked how does one who wears boxers avoid having the pee go down his leg once he is finished urinating. The answer was “No matter how much you dangle, no matter how much you dance, the last few drops are going to go down your pants.” Somewhere in that reply I believe is a metaphor for what’s going on in China. Maybe we can call it Boxer Rebellion 2!
|Buzzy in Front of Chairman Mao Zedong Hall on Tiananmen Square|