Spitting, Peeing, Snot Rockets, and Me (part 1)
07 Dec 2005
My time in China has exposed me to my fair share of public spitting, peeing, and snot rocketing. Thoughtful fellow that I am, this makes me all introspective. What are the effects of five years of phlegm? How potent is the power that all that pissing poses to me, personally? Let us examine.
PART 1: OUTDOORS
It’s no secret that freedom of expectoration is a widely held ideal in the PRC. Some of the enlightened city folk of this great nation are fighting the good fight of hygiene, but if they’re making any progress, it’s extremely slow.
How am I affected? Well, I haven’t picked up the habit. I tried spitting once when I was about 10. A neighbor boy convinced me that swallowing my own saliva was uncool, and I enthusiastically followed his example for a week or so. Pretty soon I realized, though, that there was really no point. I had no surplus of phlegm to purge, and as I rarely found myself atop tall buildings, I gained nothing from the habit. I dropped it.
China hasn’t offered any compelling reasons to pick up the habit again. (Maybe the laobaixing snob thinks otherwise?) Still, I now find that if I ever have something unpleasant in my mouth while outside, I don’t hesitate to expel it orally. Back home I might have hesitated.
Ah, public urination. One of the (finer) joys of being a man! There are a few unwritten rules to be observed when participating in this glorious ritual in China. They seem to be: (1) do it outside, and (2) face a wall. That’s pretty much it.
Do I do it? No. At least I won’t admit to it. If I were to do it (hypothetically), it would have to be at night. None of this daytime peeing. It would have to be a relative emergency. I wouldn’t water an innocent wall if I could hold it until I got home. Also, I wouldn’t want anyone to see me doing it, because (1) I’d be embarrassed, and (2) I wouldn’t want to look like a Western hypocrite. (We Enlightened Occidentals must be a shining beacon of model urination to the misguided micturating masses, you know.) So I’d have to find some out-of-the-way, semi-private urinary sanctuary. Such circumstances might conceivably conspire to occur in China — hypothetically — very late at night after I’ve been drinking. I guess.
The Chinese have the “Four Great Inventions” to be proud of. With all the enthusiasm with which they celebrate its exsitence, I would be wholly unsurprised to learn that the snot rocket is a technique bequeathed unto the world by the Chinese as well. Who needs tissues when you’ve perfected the art of snot rocketation?
Well, I do. Which is not to say that I’ve perfected its execution… I just can’t bring myself to do a public snot rocket ever. I guess some cultural mores remain secure.
Tune in tomorrow for PART 2: INDOORS!