Wandering hands on the bus spark panda-monium

By Erik Nilsson ( China Daily ) Updated: 2007-07-19 15:09:12

Wandering hands on the bus spark panda-moniumI had been making small talk with this middle-aged Chinese man I met on a bus from Beijing bound for Tianjin for about 20 minutes when he suddenly seized my hand and started tenderly caressing it.

He had a very serious look on his face, and I suspect I also got one when he started stroking my palms. Surely, I was curious about his intentions, but I was taking this whole scenario in stride.

Suddenly, his eyebrows jumped towards his hairline, and he gasped. "Ooh!" he barked.

While I remained silent, I shared the same feeling - but perhaps for different reasons.

"You will become very, very rich at age 35!" he informed me excitedly. My sense of "ooh!" turned into a feeling of "aha!" as I realized this fellow was reading my future as imprinted on my palm.

"And you will live to be 100 years old!" he exclaimed through a snaggle-toothed grin, as he traced a fingertip along my palm's furrows.

"Well," I thought, "that gives me a good 65 years to blow the big bucks I will apparently come into."

Since then, I've been thinking about how I should spend this pending fortune. I think many guys who would find themselves in this situation might buy a huge house and move in with a beautiful woman.

And I believe this is what I'd do also - except, instead of moving in with a lovely lady, I'd prefer to bunk with a pet panda.

I'd buy my cuddly buddy truckloads of the finest bamboo-chute nibbles and swimming pools brimming with top-grade tipple. My new roomie and I would feast fanatically, eating, drinking and being merry all day, every day.

I could buy a DVD store's stock and a souped up entertainment system, so when we are done banqueting, my panda pal and I could put our feet - and paws - up to rub our swollen bellies and watch movies until our eyeballs ooze out of our skulls.

With my newfound fortune, I would pander to my panda's every whim.

But then, I began to worry: What if things didn't work out with our living arrangement? What if my panda pal started getting annoyed with me leaving my socks in the middle of the living room floor and squeezing the toothpaste from the middle of the tube rather than from the bottom? I'm not the best roommate, and it could become a bear of a problem in this case.

I heard about a guy in Australia who had the same thing happen with his koala buddy when they moved in together. According to the rumor mill, things got pretty hairy between him and his fuzzy friend in the end, and the fur really flew when they fought.

So, I really don't know what to do now. I need some guidance about the direction my future life should take and whether or not I should seek to cohabitate with a rare and adorable Ailuropoda.

There's no rush; apparently, I've got about three quarters of a century left to figure it out. And I have a pretty good idea of where to seek the answers. I just need to board a few more outgoing busses from Beijing and hope to meet another palmist who could lend a helping hand.

(China Daily 07/19/2007 page20)

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