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The further adventures of Jock Lauterer, aka “Mr. Joke,” who is teaching in China this summer. The curious variation of “Jock” is due to the fact that my name is very difficult to pronounce for the Chinese, so I am invariably introduced as the closest thing they can get to Jock…so “Mr. Joke” it is.


In China one learns to take comfort in small things.

On a backstreet, far off Huixing’s main “college avenue” drag, I stumble across an actual coffee bar with WIFI and an English-speaking barista, who tells me her name is “Lunch.”

She is "Lunch" and I am "the Joke." (Jock Lauterer photo)
She is “Lunch” and I am “the Joke.” (Jock Lauterer photo)

So I am sitting here with an unexpected cappuccino, experiencing a lovely moment of private bliss, and caffeine.

When I go to pay for my coffee, I inquire politely of the barista’s background, and Lunch tells me she is a student at the university — and that her major is “news.”

Then suddenly her eyes fly open with recognition, and she cries out with excitement, “Oh! YOU are the Joke!”

“Yes,” I had to admit, “I AM the Joke.”

Clearly, my reputation had preceded me.

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