owning china


Owning China

When I was two years old they circumcised me, and when I was seven they enrolled me in Catholic school. Then they put my dog down after shoving my goldfish down his throat and cut off my ear lobes and two toes from each foot. After that they stopped talking to me.

I learned to cope by pretending to play bit parts in B movies, like the elevator man who when the door opens says, “Going up.” Then the door closes, and up we go. The door opens again on the top floor and I say, “Going down…”

I eventually gave up on pretending to be in the movies and got a job as a caddy on the Forrest Hills golf course, and one day the man I was carrying clubs for yanked an Uzi out of the bag and began blasting crows out of the trees. Then he dropped the Uzi to the grass and broke down sobbing. I suggested a two iron.

He took the two iron and made a hole in one. He did as if it was no big deal, but after the 18th hole he tipped me extra and asked if I was free tomorrow. Asked if I was free tonight. Asked if I’d like to be his chauffeur and live over the garage, date his daughter.

To make sure we understood each other I told him about my ear lobes and toes, my circumcision and Catholic education.

He looked puzzled. “What’s that got to do with the price of China?” he asked.

“Tea in China,” I said.

“So? I’ll buy the whole country,” he said. “How much are they asking?”

“I don’t think China’s for sale,” I said.

“Of course it isn’t!” he said. “I already own it!”

“I’ll do it!” I said. “Drive the limo! Carry your clubs! Date your daughter!”

He handed me the keys to the limo. “Put the clubs in the trunk,” he said. “Put on the chauffeur’s cap that’s on the dash. Sit behind the wheel with your hands like this.” He extended his arms and gripped the air where 3 and 9 would be on a clock. “Wait for my return.”

He walked off toward the Club House.

This was a man free of doubt and introspection. This was a man with his ear lobes and toes intact. This was a man who owns China.

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