Today something strange has happened.
I was strolling in Shanghai’s Fuxing Park when an U.F.O. came down from the sky.
The spacecraft landed in front of me and dropped a beautiful Martian. It was strangely high and pleasant, he resembled in everything Matt Damon (guys the weather warms up and I feel the spring in the air, I cannot affront a green man!).
Matt took off his helmet and smiled. I admit it, I was unprepared. For a moment I was left overwhelmed by the impressive amount of white and bright teeth he had in his mouth.
“Hey you, attractive Martian (from now on I’ll call him Matt), what are you doing in the Fuxing Park?”
“Hey you, beautiful human girl (good eye this Martian), I came to see if this planet fits Martian life, we would like to move here, red sand storms bother us. Would you like to accompany and explain to me the human customs and traditions? “
“With pleasure Matt, the only thing is, at 3pm I have to pick up the girls from school…(in movies they never have kids coming out of school ).”
So Matt and I are going to discover the park, Shanghai, China, the World.
We turn the street corner and we cross the usual eighty-year-olds walking backwards like a geriatric version of Michael Jackson. Matt does not smile, he has that stunned look I had when I just arrived, and I explain that no, they are not stupid and do not have hips mounted on the opposite way. For Chinese medicine the moonwalk relieves backache and increases kidney function. For the popular belief also walking backwards allows to reverse the sins committed in the past. Think about it: if it was true that walking backwards opens a space-time door where no, it is not allowed to cancel the stupid things committed, but it clears the guilt and lightens your heart. No more “but if”. That’s a lot of stuff.
The toothless grandpa stops and starts to self-hit, first tapping the skull and the tambourine behind his ears, then covering them with his palm as a child who does not want to hear his mom, then rotates the torso with dangling arms that slap his back and his sternum. To get to the end of the self-massage the man punches himself in the kidneys and on the side of the legs from the gluteus to the ankles. Matt is about to intervene, he has never seen someone knock on his own self, he thinks it’s dementia and he wants to help (the Martians, in addition to have so many teeth, they have a great heart). I explain that they do it for improving the circulation, to relieve the pain and hang the anger. Matt smiles, cheers.
We continue the walk and we meet some completely covered women, long gloves, hat, sunglasses, face and neck wrapped in a giant scarf. Matt is frightened, he heard in the intergalactic news that all those people who cover the face are dangerous, bad guys whom steal money in the bank, put bombs, throw rocks from the overpass or paper bombs at the stadium.
“But, no” I tell him, “They are just terrified by the sun!”
Chinese women want white and smooth skin, sunshine hurts, leads to wrinkles and HORROR!!! causes tanning. I point out that other women instead of going around like in the Mummy Returns, prefer to cover themselves with the tiny umbrellas, strictly lace and glitter, bright colors shining in the sun, fake precious stones.
Matt smiles grimly, God he has so many teeth!
We leave the French Concession, full of sycamore trees and wonderful Art Deco houses, I stop a taxi to take him to the Bund. For a moment I’m afraid of losing him, I glimpse at him staring at the taxi driver who splurges his marvelous smile and says:
“Zài nàlǐ? (Where are we going?)” while scratching the ears with his fingernail long as the Great Wall and yellowed thanks to years and years of poking all the body cavities.
Matt gazes at the nails. He takes off his glasses to look at them better. I explain that some people use cotton bud for ears, tissues for the nose. Sometimes someone picks their nose, but usually they do it privately. Because the Chinese people are right, often just blowing the nose is not enough, you need to use the finger.
“No Matt, usually we clean and cut the nails in the intimacy of our bathroom, not in the taxi, subway, market or wherever it happens.”
Risking our life fourteen times, after mowing down three pedestrians and seven electric scooters we finally arrive at our destination. Matt looks puzzled at the sky and asks me:
“Do you also have red sand storms?”
“No, Matt, this is pollution. We have fun poisoning the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink to have more money.”
“And what do you do with all this money?”
“We go on vacation where it’s not polluted.”
“I do not understand…”
“Me neither. Dear Matt, do not think about it. We all pretend it’s nothing you can do the same…at the end you are from Mars.”
People rallied around us. They all want a Selfie with the beautiful Martian. A lady with a deft and swift move tosses up her nine-month old baby, yelling and stuffed in Matt’s arms to take a nice picture to remember the Martian teeth (around here they have never seen teeth so white). Matt is a gentle and polite Martian, he is smiling, trying not to drop the little fella that moves like an eel. In order not to let the baby slip he put one hand under the armpits and with the other holds up the chubby ass. The little fella is restless and unhappy, he doesn’t give a shit to the selfies, he just wants to go back to mom, he turns red and shows his displeasure by issuing an “squaccckkk” sound and fills the hand of the oblivious Martian with shit. This happens because in China they do not use diapers, children happily trot along the city with open pants under the ass so the kids can freely defecate anywhere when needed, without spending money on useless diapers and freeing humanity from the disposal problem of non-disposable wastes.
I apologize, I accompany him to a restaurant where he can wash his hands and eat something.
The waiter immediately brings a nice glass of boiling water. Perhaps Matt would prefer a nice iced beer but at this point I don’t have the courage to order it, they would probably bring it at room temperature and after the boy’s poo let him drink the hot beer who taste likes pee it seem too much. And then hot water will help him digest the face of the pig he just ordered.
Matt begins to be confused, does not understand if it is better to eat pork or dog, take the sun rays or not, use the napkin or the nail, walk forward or backward, drink hot or iced water, have almond eyes-shaped or round eyes, be blond or brunette, be gay or straight. I see him confused.
I try to explain to him that there are different cultures, customs, foods, religions all over the world, but basically all of us are the same. There is no right or wrong but the one you are used to.
He gives me another smile, I waver. I want to convince him to move to the planet Earth, the world is a nice place, we love you beautiful Martian, we can all whiten our teeth together to make you feel comfortable. I feel confident.
Then the inevitable happens. A Western guy with cuff pants and moccasins without socks followed by a Chinese guy wearing short veiled socks that go so fashionable here.
This is too much, even for a Martian.
He goes away. Without smiling.