Preteen Paparazzi: Fame For An Unknown Somebody

A satirical spin on an unexpected addition to our sightseeing itinerary in Hangzhou, China.

Hangzhou's Preteen Paparazzi
Hangzhou’s Preteen Paparazzi. Photo: Christy Ly

“Woah, look!

“Probably from America!”

“Take a photo, take a photo!”

They can’t believe their eyes. I can’t believe my eyes either. With their bespectacled faces, the young’uns gawk and point, shuffling over in their flip flops and converse. Exchanging bewildered expressions, my friend Ye Bin and I stand back. A few request (via excited gesturing) if they can take a picture with her. She smiles, and denies none of the preteen paparazzi their right to prove that they met an unknown somebody from the U.S.

Like Aubrey, I too hail from the Far West but my Asiatic facial features don’t quite stand out (obviously). With hazel eyes, ash-blonde highlights, and dressed in an outfit brought together by two fine American retailors: Aéropostale and T.J. Maxx — that girl is surely a star! A celebrity, an American goddess, a–oh my gosh, is that girl in the grey actually calling somebody on the phone?

“Hui Yin, you won’t believe who I’m seeing right now.”

Who?”

“I don’t know!”

She’s definitely a somebody; they just don’t know who.

You in the blue. With the ponytail and tote bag. Are you really adjusting your glasses? Fine fine, get a better look. And you in the far-off edge of the frame — deep breaths; you must survive this spectacle without laughing yourself into a spasm.

You might notice a dark middle-aged man in the back; he’s donned in black, wearing a Jeep cap, and has a full-on Canon camera strapped around his neck. Ye Bin’s wealthy uncle, everybody. I know, he looks like he might be with the press. As our escort for the day, I’m certain he was just in front of us; how did he get himself smack dab in the middle of all those kids? Amidst the eager faces of those pint-sized paparazzi, the man blends right in. My man, you look so undercover right now. Get that photo.

An unexpected addition to our tentative itinerary: Chinese kids flocking to our friend and lining up to take pictures with a complete stranger. They ogle at her and we ogle back at them. Ain’t nothing like some good sightseeing.

Years later, as I ruminate on this photo, I now see a missed opportunity. We could’ve racked up some serious yuan from Aubrey’s five minutes of fame. I could’ve played the publicist and Ye Bin could’ve been her translator. Out with all your pocket money, kids. 110 yuan per photo; that’s about 15 USD. Muahaha. What? 2-week trips to Hangzhou don’t pay for themselves, you know.

Christy spent two weeks in Hangzhou, Zheijiang Province, China.

Christy Ly

Content Editor

Christy is a lover of the arts. She reads literature from around the world and holds a special passion for children's storytelling.

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