Xiao Piànzi, the Little Trickster

Simon has a Chinese name!  It was given to him by his Aunt Joy.  She was inspired by this post that I recently made on Facebook:

“During various sessions at the playground yesterday, my kid sweet-talked three nannies into giving him the food they’d prepared for their own charges (whole banana, handful of crackers, half an apple–cubed); carjacked two kids’ scooters while they were distracted; and managed to convince another little girl to trade all her toys for his one rubber ball.   Future career: hustler.”


photo 1
Guess who just swindled Aunt Joy’s wristwatch?

 His new name is 小骗子,  Xiao Piànzi .  Little hustler.  Little trickster.  Scoundrel.  Rascal.  Scamp.

Anyone with a really keen eye might recognize the first symbol in his name.  means “small.”
is an absolute bear of a word to draw.  It means “swindler” or “hustler” and specifically implies someone who acts with trickery, as opposed to a thief.  We’ve fully embraced it.

When I introduce Simon to someone and tell them his Chinese name, the response comes in two phases.  The first is confusion, because my pronunciation is awful and it takes a second for Chinese to process that a Westerner is speaking Mandarin.  Then, the realization and the laughing, as if they’ve just gotten the punchline to a joke.  And they have, because at that moment Simon is holding in his hands: their keys.  Their cellphone.  A pencil.  A box of breath mints.  Their child’s favorite toy.  You name it, he has charmed them out of their possessions before they even realized who they were dealing with.

The cat-ate-the-canary grin of Xiao Piànzi.
The cat-ate-the-canary grin of Xiao Piànzi in action.



2 thoughts on “Xiao Piànzi, the Little Trickster”

  1. Perfect. And yes, I do recognize that first character, because it is also the first character in the name of what counts, around here, as a good Chinese restaurant: 小四川.

    1. Little Szechuan! I confess: I really knew nothing of geographical differences in Chinese cuisine before I got here. (I’d only heard that Szechuan was spicy.) It will be so interesting to visit Chinese restaurants when we get home. Surely there are some reasonably decent choices in the Twin Cities. But just like Mexican food, the restauranteurs are preparing what Americans will buy…

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