The Last Mountain

©Stephen McDonnell 2002

draft April 27. 2002

5. Rose

A Rose by another name smells as sweet, was my misquote of Shakespeare to my Chinese guide., She laughed with her all her guts, finding me amusing.

In her little apartment, Rose offered to cook me rice with hot spices. She opened a bottle of Johnny Walker, worth a fortune for most Chinese, and we drank away my disappointment. After the spicy dishes and the mellowing whisky, my mind was melting into a stupor where Rose took on a new look.

She changed in front of me, taking off her thick glasses, and her blouse, revealing two perky brown nipples on a flat chest. Her head, with its thick thatch of black hair, seem to zero in on my crotch and she pushed me down on my back on her bed and soon she was administrating a massage to parts of my body that had been neglected by my American girl friend for a long while because she thought it disgusting. Rose made me rise to the occasion with her administrations, when I was hard as a "stone" she rode me, her small pelvis thrusting on me with a vigor that I would never have thought possible in such a tiny woman. She told me later she had learned how to shoot on a horse - one of the Chinese "sports" taught at school. The other one was throwing grenades while swimming. No wonder she knew how to hold her breathe so long. Clinton would be in hog heaven in China.

That night I stayed with Rose, ours bodies spooned together in the small bed, and as I lay there, I could hear the sounds of people around us, their body functions, coughs, spitting, laughter and snoring were so Chinese in nature. Smells surrounded me, the night soil was fresh, as were the smells of animals, chickens and pigs lived in the apartments, making me think I was back at my grandfather's dirt farm.

Flies and mosquitoes buzzed around, making me think of my quinine and anti Malaria pills. Rose got up in the middle of the night and sat on the pot. To my naïve American mind, it was both disgusting and exciting. No American woman would dare do that in front of a man, they would rather die, as my former girl friend told me as she shooed me out of her bathroom. Rose took me in again, her almond eyes crossed eyed as she came, her face no longer china white, rather a blushing rose color.

In the morning, we were as shy as strangers. Walking away from her apartment building, in the cool morning air, I remembered what Marco Polo had written about the women of Kunming.

"At the end of these five days journeys you arrive at the capital city, which is named Yachi, and is very great and noble. In it are found merchants and artisans, with a mixed population, consisting of Christians and Sarocens. The land is fertile in rice and wheat, for money they have the white porcelain shell found in the sea, and which they wear around their necks. Eighty of their shells are equal to two venation groats. The natives don't consider an injury has been done to them when someone has a connection with their wives, as long as it was voluntary on behalf of the woman. Here there is a lake almost a hundred miles in circuit, in which great quantities of fish are caught. The people are accustomed to eat the raw flesh of fowls, sheep, oxen and buffalo...the poorer sorts only dip it into a sauce of garlic...they eat it as well as we do the cooked."

We had hardly spoken during our lovemaking. It had not brought us closer, more the opposite. Rose was a novelty, my first oriental woman, nothing more. She told me I was the first foreign devil she had slept with. Maybe that is why I sought out my own kind, cleaving to my own culture with its known Western rules and hypocrisies. I found them at the Meili Bar having breakfast.

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