Old Fogies at Modernista

My wife and I went out on a date with some friends in Beijing, tonight. We don’t go out enough. Our six-year old was crying as we left our house. H. wasn’t used to us leaving. M., I suspect, was content that we weren’t around to nag her. She barely looked up as we walked out the door while her younger sister waved tearfully from the window.

We met up with our friends in Sanlitun, a modern outdoor mall concept that’s hip with the youngsters. Run by Swire Properties, the building complex meets LEED Gold standards, which would please the environmentally conscious millennial.

This was our first time at Bottega, a fancy Italian restaurant. You could tell because the cocktails had large cube ice cubes. I ordered an Earl Grey Old Fashioned. My wife tried The Ambassador, a gin and tonic cocktail.

I tried the fried calzone, and ordered the large antipasto meat plate for the table. A. ordered an avocado salad.

“Happy birthday!” DL greeted me. We ran into each other after getting out of our Didi. I shook her husband’s hand and gave him a bro-hug. ML is the operations chief for the Universal Beijing Resort in Tongzhou. We haven’t seen each other since summer started and I was glad to hang out with them.

“Do you know where we’re going?” asked ML. I showed him the face of my phone, indicating I was using a map. Turns out Baidu Maps was better than Apple Maps (at least in China).

RP and KP also greeted me with happy birthdays. This wasn’t my party, but it was very nice of them to acknowledge. W and M were there, too. W spent the summer traveling throughout Central Asia, like Tajikistan. He works for ConocoPhillips in Beijing, and recently had lunch with my section chief, CG.

We laughed and talked about different things. M spent some time taking about this new Chinese guard working at ISB who could pass as the Chinese Bachelor. RP noted the irony that the men at the table wouldn’t be able to get away with talking about women this way. It is the #MeToo environment, after all. Still, we all enjoyed laughing about the girlishness of it.

The highlight of the evening was watching “Steve Mac & the Mac Daddies” play at the Modernista. This bar/venue is hidden in the hutong alleys near the Lama Temple. “Where the ‘Dolly Lamb-Uh’ once teached,” RP joked, emphasizing the Lama in “Dalai Lama” with a common American mispronunciation.

The venue at Modernista is also a fire hazard. Should any emergency break out, the only exit is up a narrow flight of rickety wooden stairs. We then would have to cross a crowded balcony full of tables and drinks, through a smoking lounge on the same upstairs floor, then down a different flight of dangerously small stairs into the packed entrance for Modernista. Like responsible parents, we left the place ten ’til eleven and got home to relieve the babysitter by 11:35pm.

Of course, we enjoyed a 50-minute set from the band. They did mostly covers of popular songs from Maroon 5, Bruno Mars and The B-52s. A., DL and M got up to dance. I even danced for a little bit. It was really fun to go out, drink, laugh and dance. Turning 40 this year made no difference. I’ve always acted like an old man and I wasn’t disappointed to go home.

I spent over 15-minutes holding our hamster, Creampuff. That was a nice way to end the evening.

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