We now interrupt this rambling and slow-paced recounting of "What I did on my spring break" to bring you this news bulletin. Sometimes living in China drives me crazy!
It took me a while to get going this morning. Somehow there were three thousand things I had to assemble. The last thing I did before going out the door was dig out my brown sandals because I was wearing brown pants and it looked really warm outside. They've seen better days, of course, because they are Target off-brand sandals that I wore constantly all last summer. But they're not totally disreputable looking, you know?
So after doing a variety of other errands, including eating an eleven o'clock lunch to beat the crowds, mailing a post-card, and so forth, I finally made it to the library. There, I swung my heavy bag up on a podium they have just inside the door and fished around inside it for my access card. Uh oh, the guard started showing an unhealthy amount of interest in me. Not unhealthy in a pervy way, unhealthy in an "I want to kick you out" way. Fortunately, I had the all-important "campus card". I bet he just didn't realize that foreigners could have them too. But I have one! See? I held it up for him pre-emptively, once I'd managed to dig it out of my bag.
He looked impatient and jabbered at me. "Something something shoes. Are you going in?" "Why yes I am." "You can't go in with that kind of shoes." "Huh? What? But I went in with them yesterday." Strictly speaking this wasn't true. I went in with tevas yesterday, but they're functionally equivalent. "I didn't notice you yesterday," he snapped, and made it clear that I needed to leave.
There's no point in fighting these things, I thought with exceeding grouchiness, reviewing the conversation in my mind as I walked straight around to the other door, which was fortunately out of sight of the first one, both inside and out. With my access card in my hand I breezed in past the distracted guard and gained the stairs before anyone could stop me. But once in I felt exceedingly self-conscious about my shoes. So I started looking at everyone's shoes. Could there possibly be a rule against open-toed shoes in the library? Or maybe just until May 1? Because I had worn my brown sandals in and out of the library all last autumn until the weather got chilly.
What my shoe survey revealed was not promising as far as improving my mood was concerned. Lots of girls were wearing open-toed shoes. I mean, they were fancy high-heeled open-toed shoes with little bows on them, but still. What, is there a rule against comfortable practical open-toed shoes in which one wouldn't mind walking a mile? I reviewed the conversation in my mind, and then it hit me--the word he used was tuoxie, slippers. You can't wear your slippers into the library. Maybe this should have made me laugh but it didn't. It filled me with impotent irritation. How can you prove that something is or isn't a pair of slippers? Look, they're leather, they have rubber soles? They just happen to bear a passing resemblance to Chinese slippers. How is that my fault!?
If you think I was ridiculous for gnashing my teeth over something like this when after all I was already in the library anyway... you'd be right. It is so time for me to go home to Chicago.