Ah, springtime in Jiangnan: fields awash in patches of yellow canola blooms…plum and cherry petals whipping around the picnickers beneath them…lovers meeting secretly before the wife gets home…

Yes, springtime is much more beautiful when it’s shared with an er nai. And why not? You’ve got the money to keep one–rent an apartment, buy expensive gifts, and give her a handsome monthly allowance so she need not work. Besides, you don’t love your wife in that way: you married her because it was time to get married, she was attractive enough, and even though you aren’t, she chose you for your financial soundness. Your marriage was a transaction, but this is love! (well, lust, at least, but you need that just as much, maybe more).

So why not enjoy the beautiful weather with your er nai? What’s that? You’re afraid you might be seen by relatives or business associates picnicking there on the mountain, and be chastised by society? Don’t be silly! Everyone does it; half of your own relatives have “worn the green cap” at one time or another! Besides, no one expects there to be a flame between you and The Missus; that’s not what marriage is for. As for business contacts, you’ll have even more clout when clients see your young, sexy er nai at the next banquet or karaoke fest. It doesn’t matter that she comes from the countryside and is doing this just for the money; your associates are all men too, so they completely understand. Heck, some of them may text message your er nai in the next few days and hope for a little get-together themselves.

Wait…come back…why are you shaking your head? You’re kidding me, your wife said that she is leaving you, and you have to go and save your marriage?! No, I can’t imagine she could have found a better provider for her family, eith–wow, a 7 Series, was it? But the bag is probably a fa–well whadda know, that is a receipt from the LV store just in town. Now just calm down, these purchases mean nothing; I am sure her family will be up in arms about this spectacle. What do you mean they think “his financial success can give her a better material lifestyle, and that’s what marriage is all about”? Now you’re really talking nonsense.

Oh come on, don’t cry, don’t cry. You can stay with your er nai while this all gets sorted out…No, I’m sure that was not one of your business partners that just answered her cell phone; you must have dialed the wrong number. Try one more time.

(Cross-posted at http://laurenbuckalew.blogspot.com/).

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About Lauren

Lauren Buckalew has happily lived in Nanjing and Shanghai since 2002 because her parents never received the e-mail in which she articulated why she was not going back (and thus never had the chance to protest). She is from West Chester, Pennsylvania which is--no, not near LA. No, not San Fransisco either. Yes, near the 76ers! This is her first time writing for a blog, so please be forgiving.

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  1. You do realize that “worn the green cap” is the situation when a man’s wife is having extracurricular activity, not when a man having one ?

    • Actually you are incorrect. “To wear the green cap” or 戴绿帽子 means to be a worker in a brothel, literally it means to be a cuckold. It’s supposedly from the Tang Dynasty where male brothel workers were made to wear a green hat.

  2. Lauren… nice to see your post, with it’s different angle. A 30+ year old Chinese male friend told me every guy he knows has one, but that it’s not being unfaithful. I have also been introduced to a married Chinese female friend’s “qing ren”, who is apparently richer and more endowed with “wen hua” than her husband. I felt kind of odd meeting her husband after that… but assume, on balance, he’s also got his “er nai”.

  3. Hi all, thanks for the comments. Now that you mention it, Ben and Ryan, you’re right, green caps are only for men, aren’t they? My apology for the oversight. But in that case, my next question is, what is the equivalent expression for women who have been cheated on? If there is none, that could add weight to Tam’s observation that “it’s not being unfaithful” for a man to have a mistress.

    And thankfully, this post comes not from some traumatic personal experience, but just from being bothered/fascinated by the ernai phenomenon.

  4. Wow, why so bitter? Maybe you can manyfacture enough indignation to state that once you leave China, you’ll never go back there, either. You will leave such an amoral place, right?

    BTW, if all Chinese you know have such marriage, that says more about the people you attract – and you – than China. Just guess since I probably know China quite well, maybe moreso than you?

  5. Hi 里: Thanks for your comment. I didn’t intend to be bitter. I think given the fact that so many Chinese marry for “practical” reasons that it’s normal for affairs to happen – people look elsewhere for romantic love, and society basically accepts it, or at least looks the other way. I still tried to be humorous about it, but guess that didn’t come through.

    And no, I am not planning to leave China, since there are a lot of things I like about it. My own faithful husband, for one. As a foreigner, though, sometimes one needs to rant about the differences one sees.

  6. what is the equivalent expression for women who have been cheated …haha good question but hard to answer.
    if s woman has been green capped, she is the “abandoned wife (qi fu)”.Emm,we can call her man”Chen Shimei”
    hope this will not get you confused:-)

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