Baijiu in 60 seconds!
Sean: “Dude, you could be drinking baijiu in 60 seconds.”
Bruce (Me): “Really? No way… Prove it.”
Sean: “Seriously? I mean, really?”
Me: “Totally. I’ve got 16:00 on my clock and will time you.”
Sean sprinted off out the door of the apartment suites we’re staying at in Chengdu. He was naturally wearing his suit and dress shoes, attire for his job at the suites, and he was very fast on his feet. I hesitated a moment… should I wait here, or give him a fighting chance? I jumped up and sprinted out the door to chase after him, leaving Emily behind in the lobby (probably laughing at the ridiculousness of her husband).
As it turned out, Sean was right (of course) and you could find baijiu (pronounced “bye-joe” for my billy and bob friends back home) quite close by and on the cheap (price of a can of beer). 15 sprint seconds away was a little Chinese store adjacent to our building. As I ran in the door, he had a small bottle in hand and was passing a few RMB to the cashier.
He looked at me. “It’s only been 30 seconds, I’ve got plenty of time”. I nodded in agreement, and we sprinted back to the lobby of our apartment building where Emily was still sitting (and laughing).
I popped the top and took in a slug of the infamous Chinese booze. “This doesn’t taste so bad?” (It really wasn’t bad on first blush).
Sean: “Oh, it’s horrible. You’ll come to regret those words.”
My second swig also wasn’t bad at all. “How much alcohol is in this?”
Sean: “55 proof.”
Me: “That’s it? Too easy.”
Sean: “Oh sorry, I meant 55%, 110 proof.”
“Oooooohhhhh,” I said. That sounds more like it. It still went down smoothly, perhaps like a smooth/cheap vodka might taste if it were infused with a little tree car air freshener.
Conversation continued with discussions about the ways in which the Chinese will get us drunk on baijiu, how to ensure they taste just as much of it as you at a banquet, stories of Sean’s introduction to the booze, and Emily passing on this golden opportunity as we waited for our cat Evie to arrive (yep, I’m a responsible parent).
As I’ve continued to taste the drink over the last hour, my taste buds have reconfigured a bit. Just like any man might taste the hottest salsa at Tijuana Flats and pretend the taste of pepper spray on a chip isn’t too bad, my gag reflex became acquainted with this fanciful drink from the east and began to object. OK, so it wasn’t that bad, but certainly I started to grimace when taking a shot of it not 30 minutes later.
It had been over 2 weeks since we arrived in China and I’d finally laid this historic “sipping tonic” upon my lips. Life is good. Ganbei!
In other news, after 2 weeks in Beijing with good friends and great exploration, we arrived in Chengdu last night. What’s more, minutes after imbibing this foreign beverage, our cat arrived and we’ve been warming her up to her new home since. Finally, on a separate strange sidenote, here’s a picture of coffee we ordered “to go”.