Valentine’s Day is today, and your date plan is a set menu deal from Geisha that includes sushi, chicken salad, taco pizza, and a burger? That’s one way to show love to the lady that followed you all the way to China and stuck by your side after countless nights coming home stinking of Manhattan.
Another way is to get your head out of that expat ass and come up with a night that she will never forget. Let’s face it, V-Day is just another shell game amateur hour like New Year’s Eve that the restaurant and bar industry use to get you to drop four times the cost of a regular night out.
Lucky for you I’m here to help. Last Friday I did a dry run of the most romantic evening of your life. My chosen date was Super Sophia, front woman of the all-girl Shanghainese band Next Years Love. Here's how it went…
15.30 – Like Taking Tuna to a Dolphin Fight
It’s a well known fact that dolphins are the most erotic creature of the sea. I’ve explored this subject in the book Dolphin Heat written under my pen name Ronnie F. Strong. To my amazement, I recently found out there is a dolphin and sea lion show less than a mile from my house! Ocean World is in Changfeng Park, which is only about five minutes from Zhongshan Park. After living in Shanghai for over four years this came to me as quite a shock.
We started the date early with the 3.30pm dolphin show, which is the last one of the day. Take note: none of the park vendor stands sell beer. However, there is a restaurant inside the park near the aquarium that will let you take beer to go. I mean come on, kids. No one wants to see an Ocean World show dry. After an exhilarating hour-long show and some dolphin water splashed back in my beer, it was time keep this date rolling.
17.30 – Trick Picture Me This
Also to my surprise, I found one of those 3D picture places literally right across the street from the dolphin show! To be honest I hate these "take amusing pictures" venues almost as much as I hate wax museums. However, girls love selfies and this place is heaven for the selfie enthusiast. I got into the spirit as much as possible, pretending I was coming out of a giant toilet, or blowing wind up Marilyn Monroe’s skirt, etc. On the upside, my mom really believes that I almost got eaten by that shark. After about 100 pictures of ourselves we worked up an appetite and it’s time to eat.
19.30 – That’s One Spicy Kermit the Frog Leg
When you think of romance, two words constantly come to mind: "competitive eating". There is nothing that gets a girls heart beating faster than a meal that’s not only a contest but could possibly end with a trip to the hospital. Tonight we are trying the "Spiciest Frog in China" challenge at a Hubei restaurant called Lotus, which is also near Zhongshan Park. Here’s the deal: you have one hour to finish a big ol' plate of what could only be described as mind-numbingly spicy frog. Finish the whole thing, and you get the frog for free, which will help with the night’s expenses. Don’t be a jerk, now. Be sure and order two spicy frog challenge plates so you can both join in the fun.
I went the strategic route by separating all the tiny frog bones first then scooping the meat down quickly. Sophia calls this the "wimp method". She ate each piece individually, spitting out the tiny bones as she went. To my amazement, both Sophia and I finished within an hour successfully. Our names will forever be on the wall and that damn frog was free. Despite the next three days of not being able to move more than ten feet away from a bathroom, it was worth every flush.
22.00 – Double Dipping in the Tea House
Let no one say I’m not attentive to a woman’s needs. It’s for this reason I chose the next stop on our romantic vision quest. There are tons of clubs around town, like MYST or MINT or M2 that feature skanky go-go girls shaking that ass. But where in town can you treat that special lady in your life to a hot plate of hunk with a side of huevos rancheros? Shanghai Studio of course! Now Studio has three main go-go boys for hire, Sean, Benny and KK. We went with Sean who has the best attitude. If you tip them say 50–100rmb you can get a private dance for your lady with all the trimmings. I’m talking reverse cowboy, windmill and a personal favorite the long drip tea bag special. They are also available for private shows via WeChat booking at ‘seanzhao2006’. Since things are getting pretty heated up, it’s at this point I go ahead and put an offer on the table to extend the date to a little place I like to call The Forbidden Unknown.
23.30 – Is that Bush of Shame Taken?
Okay, Shanghai. What you need to know about me is that I live in modern times. I’m talking Blade Runner style, living with robot brothels and not just third but fourth genders, putting all things sexual in the gray. It’s for this reason my date and I head to the next location: the Hongkou Cruising Park to find some company. Here you will find a number of the third-sex looking to share your company at a reasonable rate. The Hongkou Cruising Park is around the corner from Lai Lai Dance Hall, which is a hotbed of drag shows, ballroom dancing and working class gentlemen hustlers of all ages. Am I proud of that trip down the rabbit hole? No. Did my date and I need to spend a few days apart in shame afterwards? Yes.
But that’s modern living my friends. Happy Valentine’s Day!