“You see,” he said taking a drag of his cigarette and ashing it in the ashtray, “She’s kinda like this city.” He looked up and saw the cashier of the convenience store glare at him and point to the sign announcing the new rule about smoking within a certain distance of convenience stores. He sat up with a jolt and ditched his smoke. The cashier went back to his work staring at the shelves as the time passes, he took a swig of his beer to shake off the glare then muttered under his breath about the fucking rules. “Anyways, he continued. She looks like this city.”

“She looks like Taipei? You’re gonna have to suss that one out for me” I said, taking a swig of my beer in anticipation of where he was going with this.

“Now let me clarify. I don’t mean the natural beauty, that’s straight fucking gorgeous, and she well, she’s a lot of things but she ain’t that.” 

“You’re still talking about your girlfriend, right?”

“For sure.” 

“Romantic aren’t you.” 

“Let me finish. Think about this rain-soaked city. Look at the architecture and tell me what most people who come to this city think. “

“Taipei 101 is pretty cool, it’s an odd color and the design-“

“No no no. Not that shit, nor the grand buildings of the city, I mean the back alleys and regular the city, where normal people live. People come here and they say they’re ugly, right? Concrete buildings of grey tones with birdcage like grills on every window. I know, I’ve heard it when my friends come to visit. People will politely, but clearly point out they think the buildings of the city are ugly.” 

“Yeah, I’ve heard a variation on that a few times before, hell I think I’ve heard it more from locals.” 

“For sure, and you give them the old ‘it’s cause there are strong property rules here, or it’s for earthquake safety and typhoons and whatever’ but the fact of the matter is that to standard tastes the city is not beautiful. It’s no Paris right?” 

“Actually I don’t really like the architecture in Paris, Second Empire never did it for me.” 

“Exactly!” He slammed his beer down on the table “Fucking exactly. Paris is for people who learn their taste from style magazines. It’s for people who don’t have a real opinion, just taking what is conventional. Taipei, though,” he took a swing from his beer. “Taipei is beautiful to me.”

“Me too, sort of.” 

“Na, I love it here. The twisting streets, the buildings that look mysterious and storied. I love the look here. This is the sort of city I could explore every day and still find little treasures. It is beautiful because it is Taipei, unique, and beautiful to these two eyes.” He pointed for emphasis. 

He took a swig and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “My girlfriend is thus.” He rotated the bottle in his hand. “To many, she is not cute, though all would say she is unique- but to me she is beautiful. She is unique, a one-off.” 

“And you could spend years exploring her.” 

“Damn straight.” 

“That might be the oddest description of a girl I’ve ever heard.” 

“The genuine is always one of a kind. “

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