One thing that has amused me over the years of my traveling to China is the group of guys you will see enjoying a meal together. Well . . . they are usually enjoying more than just the meal! There is a longstanding custom in China for guys having a meal together that is played out frequently all around China. Would you like to see what it looks like?
It involves the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and it starts out innocently enough. With the meal, there will be a few toasts made to their group, accomplishments, company, team, or whatever else they have in common. At the end of the meal, more toasts are made; and then it becomes more like a drinking game. One person will go to another person and offer a toast just between them, not the entire table. Even if the guy having the toast offered to him knows he has had enough to drink, culturally he can’t refuse the toast. After a few of these something humorous happens.
With groups like this, it is considered an honor to be the person that pays the bill. So, a good-natured all-in-fun wrestling match will break out to see who gets the honor of paying the bill. This is so funny to watch, but let me make sure you understand that nobody is mad and everyone is having a good time. Yes, they may raise their voices at one another while they are jostling to see who will get to pay the bill, but nobody is mad — and I promise you, they are having a great time! Oh, and the chances are very strong that there will be several cigarettes consumed that evening!
Have you ever wrestled for the honor of paying the bill?
I recall seeing gatherings of men in the hotel lobby surrounded by beer bottles, drink glasses, and clouds of smoke! I’d forgotten about it!