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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WC Bob (I'm Sorry, Man)

I'm sorry to have to tell this story, but it's way too funny to keep secret anymore. I do feel bad about this, though.

Okay, so when I was in Lanzhou, I met a whole lot of people. Of course I did, China's got a ton of people, and since I was Lanzhou University of Technology's first-ever exchange student, I got a lot of attention, right? Yeah.

So, anyway, I met a bunch of dudes who were going to study abroad the next year - among them Janson and Freddy, who became my bandmates and my best friends while I was over there.

I also met Bob.

Bob was also going to study at NEIU - I didn't know him that well, and I still don't, but I liked him and still like him. Occasionally, I will still talk to him.

When I first met him, it was on L.U.T.'s West Campus, because that's where he lived. We talked, exchanged numbers, and I put him in my phone as "WC Bob" - short for "West Campus Bob", because I already had a "Bob" in my phone.

Now, here's where things get a little complicated. China has a couple of hundred years' worth of history in dealing extensively with Europeans, mainly the British and Germans. Even now, there are traces of this influence all over the country, but none more odd than the WC sign.

The WC sign is known as representative of one thing: the bathroom - public bathrooms, more often than not. It took me a long time and a lot of asking before I found out WC stood for "Water Closet," a mostly British term.

No doubt, you can see where this is going.

I had never connected the name in my phone and the sign on the streets as being the same. They were always locked away in my brain as two different things, of course. WC Bob is a cool dude, and the WC is where I go to the bathroom. I never even thought about the fact that it could be a point of embarrassment for Bob.

A few months had gone by, and I was in Guangzhou (Canton, for you historians and old-timers haha) with Bob and some of the other L.U.T. students, when we were trying to find out what Bob was up to.

Somebody's phone was dead, and I said, "Use mine, he's under WC Bob."


"WC Bob. West Campus Bob - that's where he lives, right?"

................................."Dude, WC is the toilet."

And wouldn't you know it, Bob walked in right then. Perfect timing.

"HEY, WC Bob!!! We were trying to find you!" said the other guys.

He was really confused, and once the whole story emerged, both of us were quite embarrassed - me because of my ignorance, and Bob because of his newly-found nickname. I believe it's been forgotten, but just in case it hasn't, I want to take this moment and tell Bob that I'm sorry. That was my bad, dude, and I know they gave you crap about it for a little while.

Sorry, dude.

And that's the story of Bob "WC" ****, a true tale of cultural ignorance, loss of face, and forgetfulness.

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