Sex and the City, the TV show and recent movie, have loyal followings both here and abroad. When the series reached Beijing, one American woman living there was told she 1)resembled the character Carrie Bradshaw, played by the actress Sarah Jessica Parker. She’s a single-minded single woman looking for love in the Chinese capital.
Everyone in this town who’s over the age of 50 is rocking Jingshan Park with bamboo clappers, 2)accordions, love songs and Chairman Mao anthems.
Couples are holding hands, and everyone is in love. Everyone—except for me. I ask a gray-haired man who’s holding hands with his wife how long they’ve been married.
Forty years, he says. Wow. It seems like couples from my generation are lucky if they can stay together 40 days. All my Chinese girlfriends are either divorced or still single, like Mia and Lijia.
Interviewer: Do you think marriage is forever?
Mia: I don’t think so. I think two people get together and they just enjoy whatever they have. When the end is there, they should just both know that this is the end.
Lijia: Well, my parent’s generation, if you marry a rooster, you stay with rooster; you marry a dog, stay with the dog. You don’t, you know, it’s just unthinkable to get divorced.
So how do all these old Chinese roosters manage to stay together? I think I hear the answer calling out to me from Jingshan Park’s dancing square. That’s where this town’s retirees get their 3)boogie on.
Sun Aihua pulls me onto the dance floor. Her husband is dancing with someone else, but she’s not jealous. Sun says dancing makes them both healthy and happy. But wait, I hear a different beat taking over this dance party. A crew of middle-aged women in sweats and sneakers are running through their Mongolian dance moves. The leader has round 4)spectacles on. She’s been coming here for two years with her husband.
Today, she says, her old man brought not just his 5)thermos of tea, but also the 6)boombox. Then the dance leader asks me if I’d like to see some hip-hop. Yeah, I would. Where did you learn that?
On Chinese television, she says. Now, I got to see this.
So I’m learning it really doesn’t matter. Young, old, tango or hip-hop, staying in love is just about spending that quality time together.