Last week, immediately before Typhoon Doksuri hit Kaohsiung (a tree snapped in half outside my building, but my neighborhood was otherwise OK), I went downstairs to collect a pre-typhoon grocery delivery.
As I walked back inside, the building manager beckoned me to reception, where she was standing with the security guard.
“Zhen-Kang, talk!” she said.
I might’ve looked puzzled.
So I said something like “How are you today?”
And she said, in English…
“We think you are very handsome!”
I felt shocked and awkward, and—not gonna lie—appreciative of the ego boost.
I replied (in bad Chinese) “I am not, but thanks!” (“Wǒ bú shì, kěshì xièxie!”)
She repeated “We think you are very handsome!”
So I repeated “I am not, but thanks!”
Then, to exit this awkward cycle of affirmation and modest denial, I quickly asked the security guard (in Chinese), “do you speak English?”
She replied (in English), “yes, a little.”
…At which point the elevator arrived, so I said (in Chinese) “That’s great! See you later!”
And made a run for it.