In September of 2005, the Peace Corps sent Michael Levy to teach English in the heart of rural China.
“When I finally relented and agreed to go to Dog Meat King, I did so with no attention of eating the meat that gave the restaurant it’s name. But as a sat in the restaurant, hungry and happy to be with my friend Jennifer, I felt a Moment of Truth emerging from the greasy haze. Was I about to go fully native? Maybe there’s no really difference between dog and pic I thought to myself. I lifted a dog cube with my chopsticks and stared at it. The face of my brother Eliot’s golden retriever appeared in the veins of the meat. To my horror, my mouth began to water. I licked the meat. The sky did not fall. I popped the cube in my mouth. I chewed. I swallowed. It tasted like chicken. Kosher was of course out the window.”
“All of this is thanks to the Leadership of the Communist Party and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” teacher Qing said. “We will get rich now and develop and catch the West. Then we can develop True Communism later.”
“You do not have to worry about the quality of the meat. We can buy it in Walmart.” I was taken aback. “Walmart sells dog meat?” “Yes” replied Jennifer. “The price is also low, always the lowest. Walmart has the lowest prices in town.” I shook my head in disbelief. It was bad enough to think of a dead-dog section of Walmart, but what was even more unbleievable was that they could undercut the proces of butchers in the open markets, who were squeezing out a subsistence living.
My first class at Guizhou University started with everyone telling me their names, rather the American names they had given themselves. The worst student in the class had chosen the name Moron, which was ridiculous, but far from the strangest. There was “Anvil” a butch girl with a bowl cut, and an effeminate boy who went by “Dandy.” Two skinny girls inroduced themselves as “Shitty” and “Pussy.” Shitty explained her name by telling me it “sounded friendly.” Pussy told me she liked cats. There was Shmily, which she explained stood for “See How Much I love You” and Larple “I am a little fat, like a large apple.” There was God, Red Hero, and Waiting G, as well as two brothers named Stone and Stone Crusher.
Jackie raised his hand after Moron sat down. “His namee is Gordon, Mr. Mike, not Moron!” Jackie yelled. “But his English is very poor so that you cannot understand him!” Jackie was looking sternly at Gordon. “His Chinese is very poor, too! He is a minority person, so he has difficulty learning!”