“You want to go on vacation together?” I email my uncle not too long ago.
“Negative. Can’t travel anymore,” his email reads, my plan to imbibe in an expensive paradise now needing an alternative. “How are things going in China?” he goes on to ask.
“They’re going well, nothing special.”
“I pray for your safety everyday,” his next message says, and I laugh.
Save your prayers for Sundays because my time in China has been nothing short of a vacation. When I first got here I was grossed out by people shitting with the door open, choking back saliva and then spitting everywhere, plus the dog shit that always lies in the middle of the sidewalk. It’s an indictment of my tolerance that those things now seem second nature. It doesn’t mean seeing an old woman gargle and then spit two feet away from my shoe is any less disgusting, but at least I expect her not to pick up after her dog when she waddles up the road.
I was at Hooters the other night, in dire need of a burger and fries after a solid week of rice, bread, and potato chips. As soon as I walked in I felt uncomfortable. There was only about five other people in the whole place, and it was 7 P.M. My guess is the people of China don’t enjoy visual objectification as much as us Americans do. But everything here is pretty standard Hooters protocol. Scantily clad super cute chick comes up to me, writes her name on a napkin and takes my drink order. She’s giving me these eyes and I can’t tell if they’re part of the gig or if she’s giving me an opportunity to ask her out. She comes over four more times before my buddy arrives, each time a reinforcement that nah, bro, you should ask her out.
But I can’t ask her out, no matter how much the tingle running along my spine contradicts my logic. And truthfully, I don’t want to ask her out. I have a nice thing going for me, to the point that I pity this attractive woman working at Hooters. She’s probably a sweet girl that deserves a nice guy that will take her out to eat on the weekends and hold her hand as they walk through the brisk fall evening. It’s like I’ve become a dad because I want to take off my sweatshirt, walk over to her and buy her a hot cup of soup. I’ve flummoxed even myself with these thoughts, because as early as a few months ago I definitely would have whipped out my phone and asked for her number.
But right now I just don’t want that. Sometimes I think about my life path, how things could have been different. I grew up wanting to play in the NBA, like any kid with some height and a sports acumen. I got cut from the team my junior high of high school, quickly dashing that dream. At the time, it was monumental because I had no identity other than being a basketball player. Looking back, even if I would have played basketball through my senior year, at best it would have amounted to me playing at a low end college with professional prospects still hovering a sliver above zero. Had I done that, I’d likely be selling insurance, living in the suburbs, and coming home to a woman that would keep asking me when we were going to start a family.
Had I done that, my dreams might not be what they are now. I still dream of making it big, voluptuous models wanting to be with me so they can be a part of my lifestyle, and not because they care about who Quentin Super the person is. I recognize how empty a lifestyle of breaking bread with women from magazines would leave me, but the mind has an interesting way of glamorizing fantasy.
Maybe I’m where I am because it’s ‘cuffing season, that time of year where everyone gets into a relationship and puts on ten pounds of comfort. Perhaps I’m one trip back to Florida away from being sucked into the vortex of indecency, where my eyes would salivate at women rollerblading in bikinis. I spent two weeks in New York last summer and biked out with enough material to write another book, the liberal culture there so much different from the stuffy and traditional Midwest that I grew up in.
“Dude, you’re a man. You got to stop feeling guilty for things you can’t control,” my older and wiser friend tells me as I share my thoughts. He’s not wrong. If I spent all my time trying to explain and control the untamable, I’d be living a fruitless life. But I’m trying to be better than the average, as one of my boys so famously implores me to do. I’m not trying to be the stereotypical dude that romps through his twenties exhibiting a glaring lack of care and delicacy.
But I also sit here beginning to believe that so much of our life’s path is out of our control. Yes, we can do the simple things like make some money and treat people with respect, but in terms of the way our emotions dictate our lives, I think we are rendered powerless. The things we can’t control are trying to tell us something. We just won’t know what that is until the future takes us down that road.
Want more Quentin Super? Buy his book, The Long Road North, here
For a video recap of his book tour, click here
Also, follow him on Instagram here