He would have been my first, I suppose---a Korean student at some other school in Beijing's Wudaokou university district.
I'd met him on a website. You're the first and only person I've ever admitted that to, handsome reader. I suppose I want to feel closer to you.
I was 19, Arab-American, studying Mandarin and poli sci at a Chinese university. I was exceptionally awkward, and still under the impression that no one knew I was gay. They all knew and indulged me my illusions of illusiveness.
|(Just an illustration)|
He was in his mid-20s. School was hard for him, he said, in our brief chat on a website for gay men in Asia.
I'd heard of a class of Korean students like him---unsuccessful and blowing their family's money away learning Mandarin, while China busily worked itself into the world's second-largest economy. Their parents wouldn't let them come home until they obtained a certificate of completion, and the Chinese universities appeared keen to keep accepting international student tuition fees, even if they were from the same students, year-in, year-out.
He was foreign---not just in the sense that we were of two different nationalities, living in China. He was a bad student, a rich kid, a magnificently athletic loser with a Rocky-like neanderthal chin and tall nose, the kind of man who is called, in Chinese, a baijiazi, a son who spoils his family's wealth. Fresh, preppy. He wore clothes my Chinese friends paid twice as much for at the bazaars: Korean fashion. His man-bag was made of real leather. He was a petit bourgeois; every lock of hair had been calculated and every pore tightened, perhaps surgically, because he had the time, money and inclination. He turned me on.