Stupid Plastic Shoes


Jesse has an old friend in Shanghai. They were in school together in the Netherlands, Jesse for a year abroad, Brendan for his 5 years of school. Brendan is Shanghainese, but, from conversations over the evening, I learned that families who can AT ALL afford to, send their kid (son)(one-child-policy) to university abroad (usually Europe).

(an aside, most of the Chinese that have anything whatsoever to do with foreigners, traveling, or business choose a western name. Most of the people I’ll talk about on this trip are Chinese, despite having names like Brendan, Catherine, Jackie and Emma)

So, this old friend Brendan was excited that Jesse and I were moving to town. Brendan was out of town on business (setting up a new office or store or something), but just came back to Shanghai for the weekend. He met Jesse and I in Xintiandi, a fancy-malls-and-expensive-restaurants area of Shanghai that Jesse and I ended up in when looking for a place to have a cheap breakfast and free coffee refills. The place had closed so we ended up in Starbucks for coffee and Papa Johns pizza for lunch, which is where Brendan tracked us down and that was a bit embarrassing.

He wanted some lunch and to get us some drinks so we went to one of the expensive restaurants that Jesse and I had avoided. Brendan looks 20 but is 29 and has, in the past 2 years (with a business partner from NY), brought some popular shoes to China. He’s the Business Manager, he’s going to get me some shoes, and HE calls them “stupid plastic shoes”, not me. I’ve wanted a pair for some time but Jesse thought they were ugly. So Brendan’s has a successful couple of years.

He wanted to really show us around town, show off Shanghai, I think. So we first got drinks at the fancy restaurant, beers for the guys, coffee for me (It was 2 in the afternoon, and I don’t much like beer). Brandon (Brendan, whatever – Jesse’s not even sure exactly what his name is) brought a friend along, a quiet guy called Dino who had studied in Germany, so say “Dino” with a German accent. Dino and Jesse had also known each other in Europe and he was there to catch up with Jesse in Mandarin because I think Brendan wanted to speak English.

After Brendan finished his pancakes, he took us to Pudong to walk along the river to view Shanghai. He insisted on paying for the drinks and then for the Taxi. The riverfront view was awesome.

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This is Shanghai, folks, believe it or not. This is a view of “the Bund” along the river Pu. Yes, please laugh at it being called the Pu because I do.

After walking along for a spell, he walked right up into a riverfront restaurant, sat us down and ordered a bottle of expensive champagne.

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Jesse and Brendan (in a pair of Nike’s, I pointed out. He said he was off work so no plastic shoes)

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It was very good and also kind-of magical and also weird. In Shanghai there are some very poor people and there is garbage and the sewers smell up the street, but here you are having Champagne by the river.

It was dark once we left the river and we walked to a nearby mall. The largest mall I’ve ever seen, maybe the largest in the universe. Brendan took us up a few escalators and around a few corners to a new store, still mid construction, that will be his-shoes-brand-only store. We gingerly stepped around paint cans and half-made shelfs, appreciating what he is obviously very proud of.

He then took us up to the top floor to a fancy restaurant that take sup the whole top floor. He ordered 10 dishes (we were a party of 4), including sichuan lobster, shanghai broiled whitefish and cubes of tofu with meatballs nestled on top of them. It was all delicious and amazing. I think it’s important for “face” when you take somebody out to order far more food then can be eaten. He also served us (literally) and kept up a crazy, awesome conversation including weight-loss tips for Jesse, belly laughs about their time in the Netherlands, and anecdotes for me and Chinese families and tradition.

It was a very fantastic dinner. But that wasn’t all. He wanted to show us a cool bar in People’s Square (Every Chinese city worth it’s salt has a People’s Square) so we went on for a few more hours of drinks. At the bar I got 5 mosquito bites and literally fell asleep on Jesse’s shoulder. After such a large dinner, the grapefruit juice I had at the bar (Momm’s standard bar drink) really churned up my stomach.

Today is my lovely Mommy’s birthday and I miss her and love her. Think of her for a second with me.


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