A bald Britney Spears. Lindsay Lohan sans underwear. Kim Kardashian without her wedding ring. And me at the Forbidden City. What do these all have in common? Each event inspired a mob of frenzied people to whip out their cameras in order to capture the perfect shot. That's right, in Beijing, I was practically a celebrity.
Posing with one of my many admirers
I should backtrack slightly and mention that I have had my picture taken before in Shanghai. At least once or twice a week, I will notice a camera or cell phone being slipped out of someone's pocket as I walk by. But in general, foreigners are so common in Shanghai that most Chinese could care less about our presence.
But in Beijing, I was a novelty, especially to the many Chinese visiting from rural areas for the holiday weekend. Add in a tourist attraction and chaos ensued. I was first asked for a photo while waiting in line to buy my ticket. I said yes and within seconds, a line of approximately 50 people had formed to have their photo taken with me. I smiled, I put my arms around men, and I even threw up a few peace signs as was often requested by my admirers. And then someone dropped a baby into my arms. It was like I was a presidential candidate on the campaign trail. They wanted a picture of me holding their baby. By the end of the day, I had posed for hundreds of photos and my smile was starting to strain.
I suppose this incident has made me into a seasoned professional should I ever decide to run for public office. Or for when I forget to wear underwear in public. Whichever comes first.