Tonight is another night I just can't sleep, it's already 3AM.  I don't have any fun stories about eating pig parts.  But we have noticed a pattern of questions here...

I really noticed it this summer.  During the summer it was very hot.  I was with a friend visiting a mom and her twelve year old son.  In China, as it is in the rest of Asia and even in the U.S., it is customary to remove your shoes when entering someone's home.  It is also customary here for them to provide you with slippers.

On that particular hot day I don't remember if the slippers were too small for me or not.  It's not uncommon for people to not have slippers large enough for my feet, although there are plenty of large people here, maybe their feet are small, I don't know, but it happens.  But I do remember that I wore sandals that day so I had bare feet once I slipped my sandals off.

As we were about to leave the twelve year old boy pointed at my feet in amazement and everyone looked at the crazy barefoot American standing on the hot cement floor.

Was I cold?  Weren't my feet cold?  Frankly I didn't understand the line of questioning, it was over 95 degrees outside and inside, wouldn't cold feet be desirable?  But they weren't cold, I was hot!

The twelve year old boy joyously kicked off his house slippers as if kicking off shackles and chains.  He said that he was going to be barefoot too!

But his mother immediately told him to put his slippers back on and that the only reason that I was able to do it was that my body was different because I ate beef all the time.

Yes, beef.  I have heard this so many times: Americans eat beef.  Of course it is true, the average American eats more beef than the average Chinese person.  Everyone asks us if Americans eat lamb, or sheep.  Yes, we tell them, but a lot of people don't like it, we don't eat it as often as beef...  I must have said it a hundred times!

Just what does that kid's mother think will happen to him if he doesn't wear slippers in the house when it's hot outside?  Is she worried that he won't put them back on in the winter and it gets cold out?  Actually it makes sense to me that the locals here insist that slippers should be worn, the floors are usually cement and usually cold and hard.  Cold is a very real thing to be reckoned with here. It's just strange to me that we need a wive's tale about how you must wear slippers at all times so you don't die.  Seems like kids would just want to do it on their own when it was cold.

Now recently it hasn't been hot outside, it's actually very cold.  And I wear a huge down filled jacket, hat, mittens, insulated pants, thermals, everything, it all keeps me warm.  But the trouble with all that insulation is that when I get inside and I can't take it off right away, or I have to hike up five flights of stairs:  I tend to sweat a lot.

So I usually wear a teeshirt and sometimes a flannel shirt under my huge jacket so that I can quickly take off, or open, my jacket and flannel and cool off as fast as possible, which I do often.  But so many times I get comments about how "lee-hai" I am wearing my t-shirt.  "Lee-hai" I think can translate into "fierce".  They seem quite impressed, even though people here ride motorcycles through the -35 degree wind bare faced with shaved heads, no helmets, scarves, or hats.  -35 degrees is crazy cold, it makes the exposed parts of my skin burn within seconds when I'm just standing there, with a hat and a scarf.

I am always confused by the questions.  You think I'd just learn to move past it, just nod my head or something.  But every time these questions and comments flabbergast me.  Did they not see the huge four-inch thick jacket I just peeled off?  Or didn't they notice the sweat dripping down my face and that I also took off a sweat wet flannel? Does the temperature inside, which is usually quite warm, feel different to them?  (Actually it probably does)

And, yes, of course I've been asked more than once if I can wear T-shirts in December because I eat beef all the time.  Recently I was asked that in a restaurant right after lunch, but the person who asked had just ate beef and lamb with us, we all just ate the same thing.

I think I need to turn the tables on the people here and turn the questioning back around on them.  Maybe I'll ask them if they're wearing long sleeve shirts because they eat rice or noodles every day...  Or maybe I'll just get over it and learn to just nod my head:  Yep, I eat beef every day, that's why I am the way I am.  Slippers? Don't need 'em! I ate beef for breakfast this morning.