Chopstick-Fed Peking Idiot

I sat in a small restaurant in the southernmost district of Beijing. There was a food rating on the wall: C. With a fat, yellowed, sad-face emoji. Chinese people parted around me and my luggage as Jennifer, the woman who’d recruited me to come work in Beijing, stuffed a vinegared cucumber into my mouth. “Foreigners are terrible at chopsticks,” she told me. I chewed. I wanted to say to her that I wasn’t terrible at chopsticks, that I was pretty good actually, but, of course, I couldn’t: my mouth was full.

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