My good friend Monica, her boyfriend Fox, and I are in a car headed to Yuzhong. Monica’s friend is getting married in “the countryside” so she thought it would be cool for me to tag along. I’m wearing a hoodie, jeans, and sneakers because I was definitely over-dressed at my last wedding and don’t want to look out of place. We drive for an hour and get out in what looks like it could have been “the countryside” ten years ago, but is now turning into more urban sprawl
Fox and I are disappointed there are no pigs or chickens running around. We head into the bride’s large family home, to the courtyard, where the wedding will take place. We drop off a red envelope at the front and are offered cigarettes.
A red carpet is rolled out and lanterns are placed along the aisle. At the other end of the courtyard, there is a table covered in red cloth with dates, peanuts, longyan, and walnuts- the foods represent good health, long life, and fertility for a male child. There are two seats on each side of the table for the bride and groom’s parents. There is also a bottle of baiju liquor.. more on this later!!!!!!
The bride and groom walk down the aisle; he’s in a suit and tie, shes wearing a red and gold laced dress. The guests are loud and the emcee is making all sorts of slightly vulgar jokes. Monica points out to me that it looks like a McDonalds wedding “Its like the McDonalds logo! I’ll never get married at McDonalds”
Tables are brought out into the courtyard and the guests take a seat to have lunch. As with the previous wedding I went to, there were only enough seats for half the guests, so we have to wait for the next round of dining.
We go outside and see a lot of the men squatting, smoking as they wait to eat.
We walk into a bedroom where the bridge and groom might spend their first night- it was decorated all super cute, with gold and red balloons
The chef is making something amazing outside, with an enormous five layer steamer
Finally its our turn to eat. we grab seats and the appetizers come out. The baijiu guy is walking around with his shot glasses. Two shots per guest. Fox assures me he will take four shots for the both of us, because I HATE baijiu. A minute into eating Fox gets a call on his phone; something super urgent has come up for work, and he has to leave. it’s a really serious problem so Monica also leaves, and tells me to hitch a ride back to Lanzhou with another friend of hers who is at the table.
Baijiu guy is coming around, dangerously close to me… I cross my hands frantically to show I wont be drinking. Biajiu guy says something along the lines of “in china, true men drink baijiu at weddings, its embarrassing not to drink” luckily I’ve spent the past decade crafting my own idea of what it means to be a man, and the words “drinking baijiu with some drunk dude at a wedding in china” do not make it into this definition. I continue to ignore him
The woman next to me tells Baijiu guy im American and I don’t speak Chinese.
Baijiu guy looks disappointed for a second, then his eyes light up “CHEEEEERS!!!!!”
oh fuck! Where did he learn that? He knows English!
I frown and shake my head, to make a point that I wont drink. “no! no! no! no! no!”
Baijiu guy brings the shot glasses closer to my face. “CHEEEEEEEERS!!!!”
Me: “不! 不! 不! 不! 不! Bu! Bu! Bu! Bu! Bu!”
Baijiu guy, now with shot glasses two inches from my nose: “CHEEEEEEEERS!!!!”
Im about to SMACK him, but he finally relents and moves on to harass the next guest.
Crises averted; the rest of the lunch is rather uneventful and I head back to the city with Monica’s friend.
Disclaimer: All opinions shared in this blog are the author’s own, and do not represent the views of any outside organization, including but not limited to the United States Government and the Peace Corps.