I am a tall man, and fat too if you must know. I look like an NFL offensive lineman who has gone to seed. I tend to scare people when they unexpectedly run in to me. I’m used to it by now and go out of my way to avoid embarrassing situations.
In China I need to work extra hard. Chinese children like to pat my belly. The little sneaks find ingenious ways to to get close and risk a quick pat. I’ve been in Suzhou a week as I write this, I’ve been tagged by about 12 children in commando style attacks. In one case, a young boy dove into my elevator, patted my belly twice, and then executing a perfect one shoulder roll to escape through the elevator doors before they closed. In another case, a small girl distracted me with a question while her playmate dove in from behind to pat me down with both hand like I were a drum. They dance away together holding hands only to return with their parents to ask for a picture. Still another young boy executed a perfect commando style raid by climbing a glass rail which separated the dining area from the lounge. He jumped from behind a planter to the rail, sliding over it to land behind me. I looked to the left, but it was a feint, he moved in from the right to quickly pat my belling. He yelled triumphantly as he ran away.
Enough was enough, I appealed to the host to help bring order to the four children circling my table. I was alone and drawing belly pats like mosquito bites. After the 15th bite, I was done. The host intervened by yelling at the children, one of whom started to cry. Her father stood up from a nearby table to argue with the host. He moved to within three feet of me and kept gesturing in my direction. I asked the host what was going on, The host said the man was angry with me. That if I did not want children patting my belly then perhaps I should not try to look like Buddha. He thought I was enticing his child to misbehave. I stood up so to move to another section of the restaurant, one without children. The father misinterpreted my gesture and backed away too quickly, falling over a chair. His party jumped to his defense. There was a lot of shouting, It was embarrassing. The staff finally came to my rescue.
I headed to the bar. The children attacked five minutes later.
Oh China, why do you like my belly so? Nobody else does.