Amazing. I shook my head and exhaled. His stern gaze unsettled me, but I left it at that. There wasn't any reason for me to speak up in defense. They knew it all. It would just be a matter of paperwork now. As I signed my statement, I noticed their crackdown was called "Operation Newlywed." Cute. The deputy gave me a consoling look and stretched his arms above his head.
I know it could have been worse. I could have been sent to China and tried there. I could have been excommunicated to Vietnam, banished forevermore, had I not been a citizen of the United States. At my sentencing hearing, I was required to write a letter of contrition to the court. The judge found it puerile and suggested I seek psychiatric help because I apparently didn't understand the severity of my case. My lawyer pulled me aside after the gavel hit and said, "I know you're just naturally snotty and sarcastic. But you know what's happening, don't you?" I nodded. I understood that I was going to Club Fed, knitting mittens, pressing license plates and practicing the sexual experimentation I missed out on when I didn't go to college. That would last five months. Then I would get a cool blocky, bleeping anklet to wear on house arrest for another five months.
In the meantime, I'll hang out with my friends and endure the endless shiv, shank and lesbian jokes. I will not participate in the upcoming 2004 presidential elections. I know I can never go back to China ever again, and I'm sad because it really is an amazing country. There was so much I didn't get to see: Shanghai, Beijing and the Beijing punk scene. I won't ever be able to gamble in Macao or lick the colossal ice sculptures in Harbin. And I know I don't sound apologetic enough, but that's because there really is no remorse. There's just shame. You understand the difference.