So the legend of Big Gay Tony (or as we like to call him BGT) began about three weeks ago. An aspect of EF is that not only do we do classroom teaching, but we also do one-on-one sessions as well. BGT was a one-on-one student of mine (and most of the other teachers too). He is about 27 years old and is a college student. His English was one of the strongest out of everyone that came to EF, so it was always a pretty easy lesson.
One day I was waiting for the bus to go home and Tony (who had just finished a one-on-one lesson with another teacher) was driving by in his car. He stopped and offered me a ride. I knew him, so I thought why not? We were chatting in the car and he asks me what I have done so far during my stay in China. I said I hadn’t done much because I hadn’t been in China for that long and I’ve been working so often. I ask him what are some good things to do/see in Qinhuangdao? He mentions that there is a really beautiful beach called Beidaihe (pronounced Beida-hu). I mention that it sounds really nice and that I would put it on my list of things to do. Being the gentleman that he is, Tony offered to take me their with his friends later.
And this is when things start to get weird. As I’m getting out of the car he asked me when would be a good time to go. I replied that I would have to get back to him because we were still in the middle of intensives and I was working a lot. I told him to send me a text later in the week.
A few days later Tony sent me a text asking me when I could go with him to Beidaihe. I was in the middle of class so I didn’t respond right away. After the class I go into the teacher’s room and ask my friends if anyone would want to come to Beidaihe with Tony and I? I didn’t want to go alone, but none of my friends wanted to go. I texted BGT later saying that I couldn’t make it to the beach that week. He replied, fine we will go next weekend.
Now all my co-workers know that Tony has asked me to the beach and I had said no. So my boss, tries to do everything he can to make my life as awkward as possible. He schedules me to have three one-on-one sessions with Tony that week.
During every one-on-one class I’ve taught, I’ve asked the student what they had done since I had seen them last, just as a conversation starter. When I asked Tony what he had done that weekend. He said that he went to Beidaihe with his guy friends and drank wine. First flag. So at this point it is not clear whether or not Tony is gay. And of course all my friends at work are busting my balls and teasing me that Tony is gay and wants to take me to this romantic beach, just the two of us.
So I come up with the idea that I will ask him a loaded question and see how he responds to try and determine if he was gay or not. I ask him what he thought about gay marriage. He said that he is all for it. Unfortunately, that answer is inconclusive; I would have said the same thing. So I am still back at square one, is he gay or not. He keeps mentioning how he is looking forward to going to Beidaihe with me and I still have no one to go with me. I feel uncomfortable going alone. Later that week Tony sends me another text asking when would be a good time to go. I come up with another excuse saying that I am very busy and only have two hours. Tony responds that it won’t be enough time.
During this time the nickname of Big Gay Tony develops. It first started as Big Tony because there were two Tony’s who take one-to-one classes with us and we needed to distinguish them from one another (one is older and one is a young kid), hence Big Tony and Small Tony. And then the word gay just got thrown in there and he was forever known as Big Gay Tony (or BGT for short).
The next week my boss again gave me three one-on-one lessons with BGT. Luckily my new roommate had just arrived and I decide that I was going to drag him along with me. (His name is Sam and he is really into karate and MMA so I figured he could protect me if Tony tried anything). We got into BGT’s car and I ask him how long it will take to get to Beidaihe? Hoping that we could make this as short as possible. He said that it would be at least a 50-minute ride just to get there.
Now, I know I am in it for the long haul and there is no getting out of it. BGT pulled out a restaurant menu and said “this is a really nice restaurant, maybe we can go there later tonight.” I quickly came up with a lie and told Tony “oh sorry, Sam has to get back early to Skype with his parents tonight. He hasn’t talked to them since he got here.” Halfway to Beidaihe, Sam’s phone rings and it is his parents. F@#K–my excuse for not staying too long just went down the drain.
We got to Beidaihe and it was actually pretty nice. (Apparently Mao Zedong was also a poet and came to this spot once and wrote a famous poem). Today, it is a little park with a bunch of different statues. One is a dragon made entirely out of seashells. In China, the dragon is a symbol of power. There is also this big green frog that you can put money into its mouth (the frog is a symbol of good luck).
We climbed a little mountain called either Eagles Rock or Dove’s Nest (I’m not sure which one) from which you have a nice panoramic view of the coast.
All in all I had a pretty good time. BGT was a total gentleman and didn’t try any funny business. In the end, to tell you the truth we don’t even know if he is gay. But some names just stick and he will be forever known and Big Gay Tony.