By HUI JIA
XIAN (China Daily Show) – A middle-aged American male caused widespread embarrassment Sunday, after attending a friend’s wedding dressed like a 19th-century mandarin.
“Oh for fuck’s sake,” muttered Dan Menzies, 26, the only other overseas guest at the ceremony, as 52-year-old Doug Ehrlich arrived atop a donkey, costumed head-to-toe in the full regalia of a feudal Chinese official.
“This is 2017, not the frigging Ming. Nobody wears that shit any more,” a despairing Menzies told fellow customers afterward at Molloy’s, the city’s only serviceable bar. “Plus his ceremonial robes cost more than the bride’s wedding gown – so he actually made her family lose face. Great fucking job, Doug!”
The qipao incident is far from the first time Ehrlich’s attempts to ingratiate himself with his Chinese peers have caused discomfort. Sources say Ehrlich has frequently tested his hosts’ patience with an overenthusiastic embrace of local culture since his arrival at the Xian Ascot International English School in 2015.
“It was no biggie to start with – just little things, like enthusing about the high quality of provincial television and praising the school’s curriculum,” recalled Menzies. “I mean, Ascot is an English mill. Nobody gives a hot damn about the curriculum. They just care that Doug’s old – and white.”
Montana-born Ehrlich has been an unfailing attendee at the school’s weekly English Corner, where his favorite subjects include the majesty of calligraphy, the sheer munificence of Chinese poetry and the unquestionable beauty of jade.
“He actually got in a bit of trouble one time, for overpraising Mao,” Menzies sniggered into his third beer. “The boss asked him to tone down the politics. But then Doug commissioned an apology scroll in traditional Chinese characters. I mean, for God’s sake – no one could even read it.”
Friends say Ehlrlich, who arrived in China via southeast Asia in 2012, insists on carrying his own chopsticks and has frequently appeared on local television to praise Xian’s ancient beauty, culture and glorious development.
“Doug likes China very much,” said nervous colleague Zhu Ning, 25. “Yes I think maybe, too much… haha.”
One student who visited Ehlrich to drop off some homework says he was surprised to be greeted at the door with a deep ceremonial bow.
“Doug was wearing a wushamao, and insisted I join him for a tea ceremony,” student Andy Wu, 18, told China Daily Show. “Also Doug will only converse in Chinese. And Doug can’t really speak Chinese.”
At the time of going to press, Ehrlich’s burgeoning Middle Kingdom career was facing an uncertain future, after an online search by Menzies revealed Ehrlich was still wanted for questioning in Helena, Montana over sex offenses dating back to 2009.