March 16, 2020
EP. 207 — Love In The Time Of Coronavirus
An American living in China describes what it was like living with his other half’s entire family for 3 weeks during the Coronavirus. He also shares the surprisingly romantic story of meeting his wife.
207 — Love In The Time Of Coronavirus
[00:00:06] CHRIS: Hello to everybody who still doesn’t like Big Macs. Beautiful Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names, no holds barred.
[00:00:16] THEME MUSIC: I’d rather go one-on-one. I think it’ll be more fun and I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to know me.
[00:00:28] CHRIS: Hi, everybody. Chris Gethard coming at yeah from here Ear Wolf New York studio during a very strange week. I hope everybody is safe and healthy out there. I took a subway here. You hear me talk about it in the course of the call; but New York is like a ghost town. I think a lot of us out there are feeling like that and just genuine. I feel connected to the listeners to the show. I’ve met so many guys and I hope everybody’s just doing well. And we’ve I’ve bought some equipment so I can do the show from home if things get bad. And I just want to say not to be self-important, but people might be quarantined right now, people who might not be talking to too many other humans. And I really hope that this show allows you to continue to feel like you get to have some conversation and some perspective and all that. And makes me a, you know, one of the silver linings of a very tough time that makes me feel very proud of this show. Thank you for that. For anybody wondering about Beautiful Conoymous, we don’t know if it’s still on. It’s mid-May. We’re waiting to hear if the country and the city are allowing gatherings of that size, let alone the venue. The Bell House in Brooklyn where most the show’s taking place. So when we know, you’ll know and I hope we still get to do it. And if we don’t, because we all going to stay safe, that’s fine too. Anyway, this call you’re about to hear, I think is a really good perspective. And it landed in our laps. I’m talking to you on Friday, March 13th. We’re putting it out Tuesday. You’re listening this on Tuesday right after if you download. They came out. We had a voicemail. Turns out it’s from a longtime listener who moved to China six months ago. So the first half of this call, I think, is an extraordinarily eye-opening and human look at someone who was there in China as all of this coronavirus stuff started. And even most importantly for I think a lot of us do here in the states, someone who is now a month or so ahead of the curve and who can tell us how the hysteria has died down. What things have settled into, how people remain safe, but still may be getting back to some normalcy in their lives. And that felt to me like a very positive thing to hear the second half of the call. I will say is one of the great love stories we’ve ever heard on this show. Just a true. Well, I start to point it out a story that if true love is real, this story will be the proof of it. So the first half, I think, is very topical. Second half is very timeless. That’s a combo that I think is pretty cool. Also want to say, and we mentioned this during the course of the call. There are things going on in China that that really bother me, whether that’s hearing that there’s concentration camps, whether that’s everything that happened in Hong Kong, whether that’s cyber warfare, whatever that is. I don’t ask those questions because as the caller mentions, he needs to be very respectful of what he says on a phone line in China. So if you’re listening going, how could you not ask about that? It was for the actual literal safety of the caller. Enjoy it.
[00:03:45] PHONE ROBOT: Thank you for calling Beautiful Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
[00:03:53] CHRIS: Hello.
[00:03:54] CALLER: It happens like this?
[00:03:59] CHRIS: That sounds awfully sinister.
[00:04:03] CALLER: No, I guess I just didn’t know what to expect.
[00:04:07] CHRIS: It feels like a real movie moment like “so it happens like this;” that feels like a movie where like federal agents have been tracking some killer and then they finally face off in some in some dark corner. So it happens like this.
[00:04:23] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah, I mean that. I mean, not to veer into hyperbole that things have been pretty crazy here lately, so I don’t know, I guess maybe I’m just in that frame of mind.
[00:04:40] CHRIS: Explain that because I should mention so this is a voice mail call, which we do it once in a blue moon and I know I know very little about. I was just told they were gonna connect you to somebody in an interesting situation but I know very little about it. So when you say things are crazy here, what does that mean?
[00:04:57] CALLER: Well, I am I’m in China. I moved here about six months ago.
[00:05:04] CHRIS: Oh!.
[00:05:05] CALLER: And so I moved from the states. And yeah, I mean, it’s definitely not as crazy here as it was a couple of weeks ago. It’s actually quite surreal to see things unfold in the rest of the world and to be on the other side of it. But yeah, it’s just been, a lot of changes this year and then on the whole, you know, pandemic thing definitely threw a bunch of things into the works.
[00:05:39] CHRIS: So, yeah, let’s talk about that, because just for anybody listening in the future, we are currently speaking, it’s mid-March 2020. Really, just in the past, I would say 24 to 36 hours a true panic has set in in America. They just canceled major sporting events and NCAA tournament. The NBA canceled their season. I’m a big fan of Big East basketball. Not only did the Big East Conference cancel their tournament, they did it at halftime of a game. They told the players, don’t even walk back out on the court like this is real panic. I just took the subway here. It was nearly empty. The streets of New York are you know, the streets in New York are never going to be empty, but they are slowed down to a point where you notice it and it feels weird. And you are in China where I think a lot of people say that everything started unfolding in regards to this coronavirus.
[00:06:39] CALLER: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I still have contacts with people in New York But I would be curious to hear a little more about just like what the difference in the day to day there is because I lived in the city for 10 years and apart from like Christmas morning and maybe some like rare days in August, you really don’t see such a noticeable difference of like people out on the street. You know, like you’re saying. Subways. What was that like?
[00:07:17] CHRIS: I’ll tell you, it’s funny. Like you say; to me, I always think of the day after Thanksgiving. That’s the one day that you can guarantee people are either staying home or they’re all out in the suburbs visiting family. Christmas morning I’m generally out of the city, but to me, it’s the day after Thanksgiving is the one where I always notice it. And that’s what it feels like. It feels like or like Memorial Day when everybody goes to the beach. Like there’s certain days in New York where traditionally things just clear out and it feels like that. And on top of that, everyone who is in this city is, you know, a lot of masks. I wore latex gloves on the way here. And like, I went and stopped at a bakery on my way to the train station where I often get myself a treat on the way to Beautiful Anonymous. And it’s poppin off. This bakery is new in the neighborhood. It’s popping off. It’s empty; two people in it so it’s got that vibe of like the city’s kind of everybody’s taking it for real. But I want to hear about China, because you I mean, first of all, you picked a hell of a time to move. So what was it like to get dropped into that? And what’s the mood over there right now?
[00:08:33] CALLER: Well, so getting dropped into it would be very different if I didn’t move here to be with my now wife, she and I met in New York and we sort of got married without her parents consent, which is a whole other story, in the States.
But we moved here and I mean, it’s hard to explain, like just how different it is and I would say it’s most noticeably different in how like the touchpoints are very similar, but everything else is different. It’s like you have, you walk down the street. There are still people, there’s still businesses. They’re still fine, there’s still activity but the culture is just so dramatically different from anything that I’m used to. And like, the lettering is different, it’s not like other places you go to where you have the same alphabet, it’s just like, I know that that says something, but I can’t even comprehend what it is beyond, like shapes, you know what I mean?
[00:09:55] CHRIS: That’s just the general culture shock.
[00:09:58] CALLER: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s like, that’s sort of like experiential and then people say that’s just a completely different value system. And there’s that concept of like collectivism versus individualism, which, you know, I would say that’s one of the largest differences between thought and it permeates every part of daily life when it comes to living in China. I think that’s if I had to try to pick one thing, that’s the biggest difference, I think that would be it.
[00:10:42] CHRIS: And what exactly when you say collectivism is the mindset versus individualism? I certainly understand individualism being an American. Everybody’s trying to get ahead. Everybody’s trying to make their cash. Everybody’s trying to set up a life for themselves and their families. How does collectivism shop in China?
[00:11:05] CALLER: I mean, this is a very reductive, but one of the ways that I noticed it first was just being in cars and like driving around here. There are 1.4 billion people in China and you would think that it would be an absolute madhouse on the roads but people are just like, like everyone drives fast and it’s very densely populated. But like, people let other people in when they need to merge. And like, people slow down when someone is going to cross the road. It’s just like people are in my observation, people seem to be more accommodating and concerned with, you know, strangers and like the well-being of people that they have no connection to.
[00:12:06] CHRIS: So you get to China. It’s already a place where, as you’ve described. The letters just look like shapes to you. You’re overwhelmed. You’ve teased that you married into a family that had yet to sign off on your presence in the family, so all that’s already going on and then what happens when you get there and within weeks; a deadly pandemic erupts. How does that affect things?
[00:12:36] CALLER: Well, it was, you know, it’s interesting. It was gradual. So as you may have like read; the government’s response, it was not; they didn’t acknowledge it right away so there was this divide sort of generationally. Mostly between the older generation and the younger generation in terms of like, well the government hasn’t said anything so we’re not really gonna start to take this seriously yet. My wife was trying to get her family to wear masks and hand sanitizer and all that stuff and they just sort of, they listened, but they didn’t really change any of their daily life. And like, as soon as the government had a an opinion about it, it was like, where are the masks? Where are the hand sanitizer? And when we got word of that, we were actually in her; my wife’s mom’s hometown village, which is like probably two or three hundred families. Relatively remote, but it’s not too small so we’re living with her family like we’re all in one house. It’s like 20 of us. I don’t know if you know, but Chinese New Year; the tradition is that everyone basically returns home for this one holiday. So it’s her entire family and you know, me and so we’re getting this news. So it’s it wasn’t all that alarming because the infection rate was climbing, but you sort of woke up and you digested the fact that there was another, you know, two thousand people. And you checked to see how close it was to you and maybe you ordered some maps or whatever, but you just sort of went about your day. But when they instituted the travel bans, when they really started to lock things down even outside of the big cities, it was just like, you know, woah! Like we woke up one morning and some people had made some barricades and it was just like, shit, it’s real. And I got to tell you, if you ever really want to test your marriage, go be in, you know, go be in a confined space for three weeks with your wife’s entire family. Quite true!
[00:15:33] CHRIS: Ha,ha, ha. And are you fluent in the language?
[00:15:36] CALLER: No. No. Not by any means.
[00:15:41] CHRIS: So all of us listening in America right now, depending, you know, I don’t know if this will come out this week or the coming weeks. All of us are like we might need to buckle down right now. Only go to the store, get back to your house like that’s the way. You spent this era of the process. Effectively semi quarantined, not just with your wife’s entire family, the extended family, because of the holiday, and you don’t speak the language. You don’t read the language. And you are just to boil it down, basically, I hope I’m not being too blunt. You’re this white guy they don’t really know. It sounds like from what you said.
[00:16:22] CALLER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Everyone is very nice.
[00:16:33] CHRIS: Haha, I hate to laugh, it’s like a movie. It’s a sketch of your life. Yeah, it’s a story you will tell forever.
[00:16:42] CALLER: Yeah, for sure, for sure. It’s an experience. And yeah, I mean, like, you know, it’s one thing I will say is that I think that you can pick up a lot from like situational awareness. I mean, it’s definitely not a replacement for being able to communicate with people, but it’s just, it’s interesting the things that you can pick up in group dynamics. And I feel like I’ve been trying to rely on that as heavily as I can.
Just because, you know, my wife speaks English, but at the end of the day, like sometimes she doesn’t want to translate for me, you know what I mean? It’s just like it can be a burdensome burden I have realized so I try to I try to do my best and I’m learning, but it’s slow. It’s coming, but it’s slow.
[00:17:44] CHRIS: And is that so? Your wife’s sometimes she’s just like exhausted and like, I just I got you got to give me a minute. I can’t spend double mental energy or are there also times where it’s like, oh, hey, we’ve been right on top of each other and we’re kind of annoying each other. So I’m just gonna cut off your; we’re cutting off the translation as a punishment, buddy. Is that too?
[00:18:05] CALLER: Yeah, that happened then definitely happened for sure.
[00:18:10] CHRIS: Ha, ha, ha. Again, sure, very sorry to laugh, but, wow, that is a specific way to ride out the coronavirus. Harris said it’s an incredibly specific way.
[00:18:21] CALLER: Yeah, yeah. And like, you know, the other thing was, so after we were able to leave the village like my I have a visa situation where, like, I can be here for 60 days at a time, but I have to leave the country. And then it resets. So this whole thing happens and then like it was just like buy a ticket to Sri Lanka.
[00:18:56] CHRIS: My favorite place!
[00:18:57] CALLER: They’re not accepting people from China.
[00:18:59] CHRIS: Oh no!
[00:19:00] CALLER: I’ve never been.
[00:19:02] CHRIS: I was going to say Sri Lanka is the most incredible place I’ve ever been. Amazing place. Amazing people. Everyone should go. I’m so sorry that you had to miss out. And so you have to leave China every 60 days. And there’s massive travel bans in major portions of the world. Very, very paranoid about accepting people from China.
[00:19:23] CALLER: Incredibly, not only that, I believe, airlines are just they’re not even canceling flights; they are canceling routes. So it’s like, it’s like days are going by and I’m like, you know, there’s like five days until I have to leave. And I’m just like, OK, how, can I go to Cambodia? And then the other thing that gets in your mind is like, OK. So I can go to Cambodia. What is Cambodia doing wrong? Like, why are they…you know what I mean? Why are the accepting people? So it’s just like a total mindfuck. So I ended up being able to go to Thailand and I flew threw Hong Kong and I’m sitting in the airport and I’m just like. You know, I’m just like in total fight or flight mode. I would like, throughout this whole thing, like sheer panic has set in. So then I’m just like I moved to China to be with my wife, like, so that we could start a life here together. I found a way to get out of the country so that, you know, it’s not up to some like customs and border control agents that knows nothing about me to decide if I can do that or not. And I’m like sitting in the airport and I’m just like watching people go by and like, you know, everyone has a mask on. And it’s like everyone except what I think are Americans and I’m just thinking to myself; you know, do these people think that they can’t get the virus? Is that sort of like white privilege has permeated American culture so much that they think that they’re immune from it? Is it that they just didn’t know? Is it that they can’t buy masks? Like, so I’m just like, you know, it was just a thought that I had. I don’t know if I’m, you know being racist against white people because I have been in China for too long. But it was an interesting perspective.
[21:41] CHRIS: I thought, well, it’s interesting, too, because I feel like we’ve been; there’s been some warnings floating around for weeks now and we have all kind of quietly just been; I wonder what that’s about. But then you see in Italy, you see in China, you see places where it’s really you know, you know, you read stuff in Italy where I just saw, you know, a post going around from a nurse at a hospital in Italy who’s like, we can’t go home. We have to keep working. There’s not enough beds. There are reports that, you know, people going it’s not that bad for if you’re under 60. And it’s like, yeah, but the hospitals get so jammed up and there’s the equipment to treat it is not something that everybody has. And people are sleeping in beds in hallways and hospitals are figuring out who to prioritize to treat first and kind of doing it in a calculated way. It’s like what’s happening and we are kind of ignoring it here. It really felt to me like, and you and I having been here, for some reason in America, felt like once the NBA shut down their season, we all got serious about it. But it shouldn’t take, it shouldn’t take shutting down a massively popular sports league. Like you are officially, you’re officially behind the curve in your reaction, if that’s what it takes. Like a major institution of entertainment has to entirely go away to get anybody to take it seriously. So I don’t think you’re wrong. I don’t think it’s racist to say that Americans have been behind the curve. Some of that. I think, you know, it is clearly on the fact that I think the government was trying to downplay it. And I’m not. And I try to remain impartial and not you know, not slam the government based on my own values. But when you hear quotes from the president saying, I have a hunch this is going to go away. I’m not talking about partisanship. I’m not talking about anything else he’s done. But that’s clearly not a response that’s going to get people to put masks on. And that’s probably why there’s Americans wandering through foreign airports, taking it not as seriously as they should. When you’re when your world leader is gone, I got a hunch it’s gonna be fine. Well, a lot of people are going to listen here. It’s wild.
[00:24:06] CALLER: Yeah, yeah.
[00:24:08] CHRIS: Wild! Oh, go for it. Your reaction?
[00:24:12] CALLER: No, no, no, no, no. We’re not we don’t need to get political.
[00:24:17] CHRIS: I love the knowing chuckle of you about to say something. This is something that’s like. Is this even? Is this the type of conversation that’s even worth that? I did, what I was going to say was you mentioned at the top of the call, you phrased it in a way that I’m very interested in, where something along the lines of seeing it explode in America the past few days when we’re on. You almost phrased it as if to say that being a month or so ahead of the breakout, that you’re maybe on the other side of the hysteria and I’m very fascinated to hear about when did the breaking point hit, when. What were the things that made people kind of chill out? Because I feel like that’ll be very eye opening to me to kind of hear the steps in the process of here’s how it’s calm down, here’s where it’s landed. Here’s what we know. Living through the panic and being on the other side of that. If you’re on the other side of it, I don’t want to assume.
[00:25:20} CHRIS [music transition] And let’s pause there. I want hear that answer. I bet you do, too. We’ll be right back.
[00:25:26] [AD BREAK]
[00:25:38] CHRIS: [music transition] And that was our break. The break is over. Now let’s get back.
[00:25:46] CHRIS: That’ll be very eye opening to me to kind of hear the steps in the process of here’s how it’s calm down, here’s where it’s landed, here’s what we know. Living through the panic and being on the other side of that, if you’re on the other side of it, I don’t want to assume.
[00:26:00] CALLER: Well, I think that, they think there are sort of two ways of being on the other side of it. One is, you know, the more sort of data driven like statistical stuff, you know, like the infections are calling the people who were infected or covering, you know, that that sort of thing. So from what I understand, that is the case in China. I would say the second part of that is just the mental component. And that fluctuates for me at least, it’s you know, as I feel like I have gotten to a good place about everything that’s happening through the process of just burning out, which is how I often get to a sense of peace.
[00:27:04] CHRIS: Becoming resigned? Hahaha.
[00:27:08] CALLER: Yeah, yeah; I mean, it’s especially tricky in in a situation like this because there’s such a fine line between like being prepared and being, you know, just like you said, like being hysterical. Like you said that you wore gloves today, like I have a box of surgical gloves in my closet right now. And I have, you know, like a bunch of masks and I have a bunch of hand sanitizer. But, you know, the interesting thing was they like I got all that stuff and none of it really made me feel safer.
[00:27:50] CHRIS: when I tell you that I am. Literally holding a Clorox wipe in my hand right now and have been for the entire duration, I’m not kidding, I’ve been rubbing my hands with a Clorox wipe this entire time.
[00:28:07] CALLER: Hahaha. Well, I will say that my hands have never been so clean. I think we can all see that. And, you know, I don’t touch my face as much, which I guess, you know, there’s going to be a global health crisis, you gotta get something good out of it.
[00:28:24] CHRIS: Yeah. Soft, supple hands; although God bless the eczema sufferers right now, the people who can’t have wet hands. My wife has some eczema so I do all the dishes because she just can’t get her hands wet. And God, God bless the eczema people. God bless them.
[00:28:42] CALLER: Hahaha; my best friend; she is like that. Yeah, I mean, like the mental component and ah, so I guess, let me try to gather my thoughts. So like I would say that; sort of like what you’re feeling in New York with the noticeably empty streets. You know, just there’s just like a tension in the air when a lot of people are in a place and maybe someone’s like moving away from you on the train or, you know, someone’s like you can tell that they’re going to shake your hand, but then they decide not to. There’s just like, it’s just not quite right. I would say that being on the other side of that is you start to notice that there’s a bit of a more relaxed mood, especially in crowded public places. And just the sense of like freedom, like that’s the other thing. Like when I was with my wife’s family, like we were forbidden to leave. I was, we were in the house for three weeks. So I would say that I have nothing but gratitude for the ability to, like, make choices on a day to day basis, which, you know, was also restored here when things got a little bit better. That definitely won’t be the same there. But so much of that is, is in your head, too, even if it you know, you don’t have some regime prohibiting you from leaving a house like fear can do that, too.
[00:30:56] CHRIS: What a weird life you have chosen to live lately. Like between fear and and the regime, it was really a kind of stifling there for a couple weeks.
[00:31:09] CALLER: And I had to go to Thailand and when I was in Thailand; I think that’s when it actually hit me like the magnitude and just, you know, how crazy it was when I left. And then I realized that I was going back.
[00:31:35] CHRIS: Right.
[00:31:37] CALLER: And it was like incredibly, it was just as difficult to get back as it was to leave. I was, I guess the thing that I’m happy about with all of this is that it makes me really confident in the decisions that I’ve made. You know, like some pretty big life decisions about marriage and my commitment to this person and our life together and future. I just feel like if there was any test towards my commitment, I would have been on the first, I would have been on the first flight to New York from Thailand.
[00:32:21] CHRIS: Right. If this love was not real. So when you’re sitting on that plane and they give the announcements, everybody buckle up. Everybody make sure your seat backs forward. Tray tables upright in front of you. Turn off the electronics. You’re just sit there…the things I do for love. Flying back into the heart of a pandemic.
[00:32:44] CALLER: Yeah. Well, I mean, it honestly felt safer leaving Thailand. I wasn’t afraid to go back to China. I was honestly afraid to be in Thailand because no one seemed to be concerned about it. None of it made any sense. It was just very, but I think a couple of things. Normally, I would be quite nervous to talk with you, but I listened to the show on a weekly basis. And I got to say, the headspace that I was in and I have been in it for the past month. It totally makes sense that someone who I listen to on the computer, I am now talking to on the phone at midnight. Like it just, there’s no question there. It’s just like, of course, of course. You know, one funny thing, when I was on the plane coming back to China, you know, when they do like the safety routine in the aisle. The flight attendants, so when you fly, everyone wears masks, including the flight attendants. So when they did the oxygen mask demo, they had to put the oxygen mask demo over their other mask.
[00:34:19] CHRIS: Wow, what a weird movie moment. So is there is there a part of you being on the show right now where you said you’d normally be nervous; I’m glad you’re not. Is there a part; I would have to imagine more than any other caller in the history of the show; there’s a part of you thinking I’m excited to be on this show I listen to, but also I’m excited to speak for an hour straight in a language that I fully understand. Is there some element of that?
[00:34:47] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah. My wife made that comment to me when I told her, she was like, are you happy to be talking to someone other than me for an hour?
[00:34:59] CHRIS: HAHAHAHA! Happy to provide the service. So. I want to ask a couple of things, as we know, we’re half hour in, talked a lot about the virus. I’m glad to hear that even as people are staying safe, it sounds to me like what you said just to sum it up. Even in China, people are still being smart, staying safe, being really mindful. But you can walk around and people aren’t living in fear like it’s like we’re in 28 days later, something like that. I guess it’s normalizing to a degree, which is good to hear. I do want to hear about; because a couple of things come to mind. One, I think American listeners would agree that China seems like not just a different place for America, but you hear about the regime, you hear about a lot of authoritarianism. There’s a wariness, I think, in regards to China a little bit it’s fair to say, sometimes that turns into like xenophobia, racism, which is not okay. Not OK, but it’s a fact. And then on top of it, the popular myth is that when people who aren’t from America get a chance to come to America, that they jump at the chance. You’ve gone in the opposite direction. I would love to hear how that decision was made.
[00:36:33] CALLER: Well, I mean, what I can say is that it wouldn’t I would never have made this decision to come alone. I’ve definitely have had plans to move to other countries before, but China was not one of them. You know, for all the reasons that you listed but I think; I think that one of the best things about my wife is that she. You know, she loves her country and it’s not in a way that downplays or avoids or doesn’t acknowledge, the problems that are here. But she is really in love with this place and the culture and the people and, you know, I’ve been fortunate enough to basically have been given an introduction to a place that I know nothing about through her eyes. It’s a very different experience from if like if a tourist goes to New York and they go to the Times Square and they go to the Statue of Liberty. You know, it’s the difference between that and if someone going to New York for the first time with a friend who’s lived there for a while, it’s just a completely different perspective.
[00:38:14] CHRIS: Yeah, like come to my favorite dive bar in Brooklyn. It’s a different thing. Here you go, hang out at Ground Zero, the site of the worst thing ever and maybe you will buy some novelty T-shirts, buy some novelty T-shirts from some guy near Ground Zero. Verses like, hey, you want to go into Queens to this restaurant that is legendary, but that you’d never hear about if you were just here for a week otherwise.
[00:38:46] CALLER: Yep, yep.
[00:38:49] CHRIS: So you’re there, that’s cool. You get out there, following love, your wife has a true devotion and love of her home country, her hometown. I get that. Do you anticipate that you’re gonna spend the rest of your life there?
[00:39:05] CALLER: That is the plan.
[00:39:08] CHRIS: You sound super enthused. Haha
[00:39:12] CALLER: Well, I, so I don’t have any problem with it. My thing is that I think that you like, you know, you have to have a backup plan. So all the stuff about mass surveillance, all those; we are on a phone call so I’m not going to list all them, but.
[00:39:39] CHRIS: So that’s real. There’s things you cannot there’s things that you’re like I should just maybe clam up on certain things in case I’m being listened to. That’s a real concern. Day to day….Or you can’t even answer that, we should just move on. Wow. OK. I’ll shut up.
[00:39:56] CALLER: I mean, it’s an abundance of caution. But, you know, I am a guest in their country, so and I’ve seen some things that, you know, make me make those decisions.
[00:40:08] CHRIS: I wish you could share the specifics, but it’s sounds say the exact thing you shouldn’t talk about so we’ll just move on.
[00:40:19] CALLER: But yes, that is, that is the plan. Her family is here, and you know, too, she wants to be here with and for them. So that’s the plan. I have my feeling that, what happens if something happens. So if nothing happens, then, yeah, we’ll be here for a while. And if it does, then, you know, we might be in Thailand or something for a bit, but you know, at the end of the day, the plan was to be together and to be with her so wherever that is, it’s that’s fine by me.
[00:41:07] CHRIS: How did you and your wife meet? And hit it off? To this point this a love that made you leave your old life behind and go to the other side of the world. What’s that love story?
[00:41:26] CHRIS: Excuse me. Can we edit out and I could start the time code and edit out my burp; my barely audible burp. They are saying you can’t hear my burp, but let’s still mark the time code 23 minutes, 20 seconds. Just check on, OK? What’s the love story?
[00:41:44] CALLER: I mean, it’s like anything else. It started with like a decision. I usually went to this one bar and I decided I was sick of going there, and so I went to a teahouse instead and she was working there. And it sounds so cliche, but like instantly I was just like, OK, like there’s something about this person. I want to be around this person. So I went there again with a friend and, you know, I didn’t say anything to him, but I just kind of wanted to get his perspective on it. We left and I said to him, I was just like, you know, I want more of that in my life. And he’s like, yes, she’s great. You know, she’s the first and only person I’ve asked that I’ve asked for their number; she was actually engaged at the time.
[00:42:59] CHRIS: WOOAH! [music transition] That’s, that’s wild. There’s a story there we can hear that story and many more, when we get back.
[00:43:18] AD BREAK
[00:43:21] CHRIS: From here on out, it’s just conversation till the end. Let’s go.
[00:43:27] CALLER: She’s the first and only person I’ve asked for their number. She was actually engaged at the time. Which I found out as we were on what I thought was our first date, which was a walk from the East village to the Highline. But you know something about the way that she talked about it and about him. Made me think, you know, maybe it was more of like societal pressures and stuff like that. That was you know, leading them towards getting married.
[00:44:23] CHRIS: And had her parents approved of that guy already?
[00:44:27] CALLER: Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, he was wealthy and he was Chinese, so.
[00:44:32] CHRIS: So this is a forbidden love. We’re talking about a forbidden love right here.
[00:44:38] CALLER: Yeah. I mean it’s blossomed into a begrudgingly accepted love. But it was definitely started begrudgingly
[00:44:44] CHRIS: Hahaha! A begrudgingly accepted love. The begrudgingly accepted love. The three words that that describe every great love story, begrudgingly accepted love.
[00:44:58] CALLER: Yeah, Yeah
[00:45:02] CHRIS: So then she feels this pull as well. This is like a love at first sight thing. She realizes she’s in over her head on this other situation and then she gets out of it.
[00:45:12] CALLER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. She told me that before we had met, she had booked a trip to go visit him and she was asking me what to do. And I just said, you know, I can’t make that decision for you. I definitely would like it to go one way. But, you know, that’s a decision you have to make so when she told me that she’d decided not to go I was like, this is it, this is like a real thing now.
[00:45:48] CHRIS: So you’re saying like, listen, we both know it’s a choice for you to make it in your head. You’re like, don’t go. Don’t go. Don’t go. And then she said, I’m not going.
And you’re like, WOOHOOO!
[00:45:57] CALLER: Of course. Of course. Yeah, that was hard. I mean, I would have loved to. I’ve just had bad experiences with like, you know, making these big gestures and then not being able to follow through with them so I wasn’t about to tell her to leave her fiancée.
[00:46:27] CHRIS: You can’t do that.
[00:46:31] CALLER: It’s too much pressure
[00:46:32] CHRIS: Yeah, say, hey, why don’t you abandon your fiancé in you’re in your home country that your family has already given thumbs up to, to come marry me, a guy you met in a random teahouse instead. Yeah. I can see why you didn’t want to be overzealous on that. You got to be respectful. Now, did you ask for her number at the end of that first experience there, or were you like; you know what? I think I really like tea more than I knew. And you’d gone back to the teahouse from time to time.
[00:47:05] CALLER: Oh man, I can tell you that I found out if you don’t drink water and you drink green tea, you get incredible migraines. I was there like every day Chris. I was there every day for a week.
[00:47:17] CHRIS: Haha, so she knew. She’s like, all right, this this guy’s either pretty smitten or I might have a stalker on my hands.
[00:47:24] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah. I’m trying to be careful about how I describe it cause I feel. Man, how can you be a man and not be creepy? You Know?
[00:47:33] CHRIS: A great question.
[00:47:36] CALLER: I don’t know. I don’t think I was creepy
[00:47:37] CHRIS: I will tell you that Anita, a-k-a, the new Harry Nelson, I just looked through the glass and as you said, how can you be a man and not be creepy? She laughed in a way that denoted like a full body joy that, that denotes the truth. I think you’re right. Every guy I feel like one of the basic things of being a good guy is just doing and just doing a lot of safety checks along the way to make sure you’re not being too much of a creep. I think that’s just a basic thing that we should all commit to in 20/20 is like if you’re hitting on a girl, there’s gonna be some level of that that either goes well or doesn’t. And just make sure if it doesn’t, that you’re not being creepier than you have to as your crash. When you crash and burn, there’s gonna be some level to which you feel like a creep. So let’s minimize that as much as possible. I don’t think that’s too much. People think of. Me too. P.C. culture. It’s like, you know, if we can just land in the middle of the pendulum swinging to extremes right now. If we can just land in the middle where somewhere guys just go. I’m going to try to not be too creepy if this doesn’t go my way. I think that that what a lovely middle ground to land in and if we can just get there as a society.
[00:48:51] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah,
[00:48:56] CHRIS: But It worked out. You go, can I get the digits? And she says: I’ve been waiting for you to ask. I know nobody likes green tea this much.
[00:49:05] CALLER: Well, I think that she does.
[00:49:12] CHRIS: HAHAHAHAHA!
[00:49:13] CALLER: And but yeah, I mean. She…I don’t think..I think that she was surprised that I asked her for her number. But yeah, I mean, you know, it’s late. OK., so we’re in the East village; we’re on 10th Street; she gets off work. I’m like, OK, it’s 4:45; it’s going to take an hour to walk to the west side. It’s going to be great. We’re going to get to Highline. It’s going to be sunset. Maybe we’ll stop and get a piece of cake or something. And, you know, I’m happy about this. It’s fantastic. We walk there, we get there, the sun’s going down. We’re up on the Highline. And that’s when she’s like, I think that you should know that I am seeing someone. I was like, oh, that’s yeah, that’s fine. So in my head, I’m like, OK. so, you know, maybe she must be just being nice and this is not a date. Like, maybe we can be friends. And then, you know, it comes out later that they’re engaged. So, you know, I just don’t know though Chris, something, something told me, I’m not one of those guys who is like not gonna see anything for what it isn’t. I’m not going to try to you know, wedge my way into someone’s life who has a different idea about how they want to live. But there is something about the way that she talked about him that just had this distance and hesitation. That made me think, you know, maybe, you know, maybe it’s nothing, but I’m going to stick around for a little while longer to see where this goes.
[00:51:17] CHRIS: Yeah, as you as you’re saying, you’re not the type of person to play this game. I can just say, just based on your incredibly measured tone of voice for the past 47 minutes, you’re clearly not someone who flies off the handle emotionally too often. I think that’s safe to say. You’re very clearly, chill, guy who our whole conversation you’ve been talking like this as you tell me about having to fly to Thailand to stay in a country that has a pandemic. So you’re clearly not someone whose like: I’m gonna chase this!! I’m just gonna lose my mind and chase this!! I guess. Although maybe. Who knows? Who knows? Maybe every once in a while you fly, fly off the handle it in a way that would be…I don’t know. Who knows but doesn’t; you don’t strike me as the type.
[00:52:09] CALLER: Well, thank you.
[00:52:12] CHRIS: Hahahaha! Even that! Even that! Even before you made me that I’d…there is one. I forget what I said. I said something that I felt like was pretty impactful, pretty tense. And you just went, hmm. That was your reaction. And it made me smile.
[00:52:30] CALLER: I don’t do well with compliments, but I’m glad.
[00:52:38] CHRIS: Hahaha! So that’s great, so then you’re sensing she’s already been having some misgivings. She’s already feeling in over a head the situation back home. I’m gonna be respectful, keep distance from that while also letting her know that I’d love to be friends. And therefore, she wants to open that door. I’m available and open to it. That’s the logical way to handle this.
[00:53:01] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:53:03] CHRIS: And how long? As long as it until she says, you know what? Something special is happening here. I got to go for it.
[00:53:13] CALLER: I’d say it was, you know, like a month. It wasn’t, it wasn’t super long and things kind of just took off from there. Like we spent a lot of time together, really got to know each other, you know, as much as you can in that period of time.
Like how vulnerable you’re really willing to be in the first three months. But, yeah and then she dropped that her visa was expiring and she had to move back.
So that was not that great. I mean, I kind of feel bad for saying this, but, you know, I’ve been in relationships for three months before and if someone were to say to me, like, I have to go back to my country and I’d be like, all right. Like, it was nice knowing you; we had a really good time together; enjoy the rest your life. But, yeah, it just wasn’t the same here. And, you know, I took a couple of trips out here. But for a long time, like so we’re married. We’ve been married for a year. We’ve known each other for two years. But she and I have spent more time together apart than together together.
[00:55:01] CHRIS: Oh wow.
[00:55:06] CALLER: So, you know, part of a moving here was part of the dynamic of moving here was like, you know, the big question of sure, we love each other, but like, can we stand to live with each other? You know what I mean? Like love and living with someone are two very different things. And, you know, we’re still sort of feeling our way through that. But, you know, it’s just. And I don’t know. Life is wild.
[00:55:42] CHRIS: Yeah. And there’s people as they, as the story you’re telling us, she has to go home and we’ve only been dating a year. And some people after three months, would just say we had fun; but I; and, you know, again, the cliche that we assume is like ah, and then you; so you got married for citizenship because you hear about that. Sometimes people saying we kind of had a feeling we’re gonna get married anyway so we just bumped it up and got it done. But no! YOU MOVED TO CHINA! This was not that. YOU MOVED TO CHINA!! You what it was, you know, it was your family and friends. Like, what are you doing? What do you do? What are you talking about? Do you hear? Again? And I want to be clear. There’s a number of things I would love to ask you about. But you mentioned that that just certain places we can’t go. There’s a number of things. I’m respectfully saying I’m not going to put you in a position to have to even react at all. But we all know there’s stories about China that are pretty intense. Your family and friends must have been like; WHAT?!?! You’re the most LOGICAL PERSON WE KNOW! What?
[00:56:48] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah. This was very off brand for me.
[00:56:51] CHRIS: Yeah, haha. You don’t say, you don’t say. Couldn’t figure that out? What did they say? What does your family and friends say? And when you say so I’m out, I got married and moving to a place that’s the opposite of America.
[00:57:09] CALLER: To be honest, Chris, I’m sure that everyone had the reaction, the internal reaction that you’re having, but they did a pretty good job at not expressing that to me. You know, they were nothing but supportive. They were just like, you know, I get it, like this is what you have to do. You know, even, even like the company that I worked for. You know, I work remote anyways, but they were just like, listen, I know it’s 12 hours time difference, but like we’ll make it work.
[00:57:48] CHRIS: So you have the same job?
[00:57:50] CALLER: So, yeah. Yeah.
[00:57:53] CHRIS: So you just have to be up all night on the computer. Like all right guys…if we could just get IT…get this done by end of business day that would be great. And now please let me go to sleep because it’s 4:15 AM. You have to sometimes be up for conference call tonight in the middle of the night?
[00:58:09] CALLER: Oh yeah. Yeah. I mean it’s I don’t know what time it is in New York. It’s probably well, like 12:00, 12:15.
[00:58:16] CHRIS: Yeah, it’s 12:15 p.m..
[00:58:19] CALLER: Yeah, so is it’s 12 am here. Yeah. I mean, you know.
[00:58:24] CHRIS: YOU’RE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD! Telecommuting! Yeah. Oh, my. If there is ever year; if there’s ever been a real life story, this is not a Disney Disney princess movie. If there’s ever been a real life test of the validity of true love. Your story is it.
[00:58:48] CALLER: Man, that’s a, that’s a lot of pressure. I hope so. I would I would hope so. Yeah.
[00:58:54] CHRIS: No pressure at all. But what you’re living through will be the ultimate proof of if love is real. No pressure.
[00:59:02] CALLER: Yeah, I mean, in all seriousness, though, like yes it definitely, I didn’t have a lot of doubts before but now I don’t really have any. You know, I would do anything for her. I would.
[00:59:18] CHRIS: That’s amazing. What a cool thing to be able to say. And you know what? If my wife turned to me one day and said. I don’t know why this is my instinct. But I need to live on the other side of the world. I’d say cool. Let’s go. If you really need to go, I’m not going to stay here. And be there with ya. And then I go, I guess I got to learn a number of dialects of a language that strikes me as very complicated so I can hopefully tell some jokes and make some money.
[00:59:58] CALLER: Haha. And that would yeah, that would be an interesting challenge.
[01:00:02] CHRIS: You can’t telecommute. You can’t telecommute as a comedian.
[01:00:10] CALLER: We don’t have a lot of time left, but yeah. How do you make other cultures laugh? Like what other cultures find funny?
[01:00:16] CHRIS: Well, I’ll tell you what. There’s a comedian, good guy, real good guy named Des Bishop. And he’s. He’s a New Yorker. But he became really well known in Ireland. He’s had an interesting life. He went and lived in Ireland when he was a teen. I think he’s a friend of mine. I don’t know the best, but we’ve gotten to know each other and he’s very popular in Ireland and he has a good career in the states. But he also, I believe, is married, right? I think married to a Chinese woman, and he is fluent now. He’s like it’s obviously one of the biggest markets in the world and there aren’t many. There aren’t many Westerners who can go in there and tell jokes and pulled it off, so he goes and gets gigs in China. It’s wild! Good on him.
[01:01:08] CALLER: Good for him. Seriously.
[01:01:11] CHRIS: Yeah. Maybe that’s what I need to do is learn how to…Become like the clown here. Right to be like here’s this neurotic ameri-. I’ll go there and I’ll be like the Mr. Bean of China. I’ll be like the caricature of every American. Then I’ll go over there and I’ll like eat McDonald’s on stage and burp alot and wave constantly. And I won’t wave a flag because that might get me killed. I would imagine that I’ll become like the buffoonish American that they can laugh at and I’ll make so much money. I bet I would. I bet that would clean up.
[01:01:49] CALLER: Hey. So I know we don’t have a lot of time left.
[01:01:54] CHRIS: Three minutes.
[01:01:58] CALLER: I know I’ve been a bit cagey about talking about certain things, but I would I would like to just make the distinction between Chinese people and the Chinese government.
[01:02:11] CHRIS: Of course.
[01:02:12] CALLER: Like my experience with the Chinese people that they’ve done, you know, nothing but incredibly kind and I’m sure incredibly tolerant of, you know, a variety of humiliations that I put myself through on a day to day basis. And it’s just, you know, the people in power is a different story.
[01:02:46] CHRIS: Well, and, you know, it’s fascinating that that I feel like there’s large swaths of, you know, America clearly more than ever. Red and blue. And I think there’s a lot of people who go. The way the government’s presenting our country on the world stage right now is not how we feel and they say that the American Chinese are so at odds with each other. But the way you just described it, maybe the actual people on the ground in those two countries have more in common than anything else because maybe it’s further proof that humans are humans and governments don’t always represent the actual realities of how those people feel. Maybe average people from those two places, if they sat down and got a beer together or in my case, a ginger ale, started speaking freely, maybe they’d actually find out that they have more in common than people from some other places here.
[01:03:47] CALLER: I think that that would be true and there’s a lot of common commonalities as well. China is so diverse. I think, you know, before I moved here, I just thought that it was one sort of homogenous culture but there’s more diversity here than there is an America just because there’s so much more, you know, people like one out of every seven people in the world is Chinese.
[01:04:23] CHRIS: Wow. Are there American towns like New York has, I think, like four or five different Chinatowns? Are there America towns in China?
[01:04:33] CALLER: I mean, there McDonald’s probably the closest you’ll get.
[01:04:38] CALLER: Yeah. Do you eat McDonald’s? I haven’t eaten McDonald’s in years but I think if I lived in China, I’d go get some fries just to feel a taste of home.
[01:04:50] CALLER: No, I have not. I would feel a certain way about struggling to order a Big Mac.
[01:04:58] CHRIS: Indeed. Indeed. Now we’ve run out of time and I want to thank you. Eye opening. I feel like the first half of this call was a public service announcement for all of us in the world and the second half was an amazing story of true love. And our final question. The food you’re eating in China. Does it make you? Is American Chinese food fake? Is that not real Chinese food?
[01:05:28] CALLER: American Chinese food is, by and large, disgusting and not representative of Chinese food in the least bit. Gotta come here. Come here just for the food.
[01:05:40] CHRIS: Well, I’m sure that when the pandemic cloud lifts, this call will lead to a flocking of Americans to come eat Chinese food in China. Thank you so much for talking. We could talk forever. Good luck to ya. Get some sleep. Love is real. Love is everywhere. And now lets everybody stay healthy and stay safe.
[01:06:05] CALLER: Good stuff, man. It was good talking to you.
[01:06:08] CHRIS: You too, happy to give you an hour of English all in a row. Thanks so much.
[01:06:16] CALLER: Beautiful. It’s beautiful. Take care man.
[01:06:21] PHONE RING
[01:06:28] CHRIS: Caller, Thank you so much. Thanks for verifying at the tail end that Chinese food in America; that’s just American food. Thanks for reminding us that. And thanks for reminding us that love is real. And thanks for reminding us that things are not going to be this crazy forever. Thanks to Jared O’Connell and Anita Flores in the booth. Thanks to Shellshag for the music. I do have standup dates on my Web site right now, although I don’t know that people are clamoring to buy tickets for public gatherings. Chris Geth.com if you want to put your life on the line and see some standup. Hey, if you like this show, apple podcasts, it’s really easy to subscribe and it really helps when you do. Remember the entire Beautiful Anonymous back catalog is out there on Stitcher Premium or Stitcher Premium.com/stories. Free month and more details.
[01:07:25] CHRIS: Next time on Beautiful Anonymous. Me and a lady in London who self-quarantined chit chat for an hour, mostly cause she was bored, not trying to make light of something very scary, but when it’s like hey, you can’t really go out in social situations right now and you should probably stay home. There is a part of me going; yeah, no problem.
[01:07:48] CALLER: Well, I’ve actually been nothing. I can let talk my wife. I’m not finding people really. I have had a dry cough and NHS guidelines are that if you have a dry, persistent cough that you stay away that day. I’m actually in self-isolation at the moment.
[01:08:04] CHRIS: You are?
[01:08:05] CALLER: Yeah.
[01:08:06} CHRIS: That’s scary. Are you freaked out?
[01:08:08] CALLER: You know, I’m not freaked out of myself. A freaked out about it. My mom has a lot on the line in health issues, and she’s shall not prompt me for saying this, but she’s on the wrong side of 65. And so I’m really concerned for her.
[01:08:22] CHRIS: That’s next time on Beautiful Anonymous.
Recent EpisodesSee All
March 23, 2023
Geth has a new book out called “The Lonely Dad Conversations,” and you’re about to hear a sneak peek!
March 20, 2023
EP. 363 — Jersey Italian Grandma
Kidnapping mobsters, a phone call from beyond the grave, and holy water in a vodka bottle. A Jersey Italian grandmother always has stories.
March 13, 2023
EP. 362 — Punk Rock Lawyer
She considered herself a hardcore anarchist, until she became a lawyer. A tattooed, body building, sometimes musician discusses her journey to becoming an attorney.