A delightful gift (pictured right) arrived at my office today, with a note from my friend Rocky Lee, a very talented lawyer at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Carey here in Beijing. I was very touched: he'd bought this with me in mind, knowing my weakness for single malts. And he suffered through an hour-long lecture on peat roasting, malted barley, and the mysteries of Port vs. sherry vs. bourbon casks, all delivered (doubtless in a nearly uniintelligible brogue) from a "bearded Scotsman" in the duty free shop. Forgive me for my inability to banish the image of Groundskeeper Willie that formed as I wrote those words. There's an even better bottle, Rocky assures me, waiting for us to share when he gets back from the States--though I reckon given his infamous aldehyde dehydrogenase deficiency, I'll probably drink more of it. Wille said it was his very favorite, after all.
Infamous? Who else could know of Rocky's missing enzyme? Why, readers of The Red Herring, where I once published the tale of how the good Mr. Lee played Virgil to my Dante in my descent into the depths of the Beijing nightlife scene. (Registration required, I fear). Lots of tech deals get made, you see, between happy hour at Centro and the wee hours at clubs like Vics, Babyface, and Tango.
Rocky's note marked the final release of what tension may have persisted between us in the year-and-a-half since I wrote that story. Understandably, he was a little freaked out by it, even though he really was exceptionally well-behaved through the whole thing--I played fly-on-the-wall on many nights out with him--and even though I took pains to show just how in-the-know he is when it comes to tech deals going down in China. He's often the first person I'll call still when I want the skinny on a start-up. I never intended to get him in any trouble. And so I was enormously relieved when a partner at DLA Piper, which had hired him away from the firm he was with during our adventures, told me that they hired Rocky in part because of, and by no means in spite of, what I'd written.
If you like that one, check out my pentultimate swan song, "Taking the Plunge," in which your erstwhile correspondent tailed a Valley venture capitalist during an extended stay in China.