There’s something uniquely reassuring in the comfort of Sex With Friends [trademark pending?].
There is a different sort of intimacy that comes out of camaraderie. You know each other in ways distinct from someone you’re dating or romantically interested in. There is less rose-tinted idealizing. I might admire a friend, but I don’t put them on a pedestal. So in a way, it’s a much more honest relationship. And with that honesty comes a clarity of experience that is exclusive to Sex With Friends.
But maybe it’s just me.
Reactions to the topic have been stupid funny. Even if inexperienced in platonic explorations of sex, everyone has an opinion. [It's one of the few things you can knock without trying, if it's to admit that you wouldn't be able to handle it. But please hold the judgement of others.] One friend says it would make her feel too self-concious around them after. No matter how solid the friendship, going out with the group later would be a new level of uncomfortable. Her mind wouldn’t be able to get past the “I’ve seen you naked, and you did things to me.”
Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely happened to me. [And my mind never stops thinking about it, giggling in some dark corner of itself.] I have had more than my share of awkward social gatherings. I would hook-up with a friend and have to pretend like nothing had happened the next day. Blushes occur, and eye contact may weigh loaded and infrequent. The thing about Sex With Friends is that it isn’t dating. You’re just friends. And friends accept each new experience as they come.
It’s up to each pair whether they’re open to others knowing about their bedroom [out-of-bedroom?] activities, or not. Everyone’s unique. I’ve had deals where one group of friends were rather incestuous and no one minded. It was a specific situation in our grouplife, and we were all aware of what was happening. Then there have been times when a friend and I would hang out normally, and more-than-friendly things happened. As far as the world was concerned, we just watched TV like we did every Thursday; only we knew. Some friends don’t care if others know, and some want others to mind their own fucking business.
College sees the worst sides of Sex With Friends. Adina puts it well: “It’s fun, but it’s dangerous.” Our Hook-Up Generation has a particularly terrible aspect: it conditions us to treat sex with an overly casual attitude. It can range from simply dismissive to surprisingly disrespectful, and young adults can be too underdeveloped to handle the fallout. I personally reached a point where thoughtless gossip and crass attitudes became too much, and pulled back from it all. It was emotionally damaging, because the snide comments and judgemental jokes didn’t come from random strangers or social enemies– they were spoken by friends. And during such a fragile developmental period of life as college, when you’re still learning what life is and how to deal with it, these incidents can be particularly harmful.
Such circumstances arise when people treat Sex With Friends without sensitivity. Just because the relationship lacks romance, doesn’t mean it lacks emotion. Sex is a profoundly intimate act, and should be treated with respect. You are engaging in one of life’s most penetrating experiences; anyone claiming to have sex without emotion is dead inside. [Seriously: a sociopath or zombie, but needing therapy either way.] Even if the emotion is as light-hearted as dopamine-fueled happiness or oxytocin-powered trust– the reactions are there and biologically proven. So I hold issue with people who say friends-with-benefits means sex without emotion. If it’s without emotion, it’s just fuck buddies. [See full definitions here.] Sex With Friends definitely has emotion– they’re just not romantic ones. They’re platonic, they’re sexual, they’re genuine affection. I can appreciate a friend’s sexuality, attractiveness, and fun without being starry-eyed. And I can definitely appreciate that special trick they do without wanting to be their girlfriend.
“It’s a good idea, until it’s not.”
Then there is the situation where one of the two grow more than platonic feelings, and everything goes to shit. Someone forgets that it isn’t dating. They start to take the little compliments as an intent to woo, when it’s really just a friend telling you your eyes are pretty, or they like how you do that one thing with your mouth. Suddenly the little moments become charged, and eggshells are required for walking. I recommend cutting it off immediately. Talking is necessary to make sure the air is cleared between the two of you, or you’ll never return to the friendship you had before. Note: the friendship will never be like before. Be real, you’ve done dirty things together. But it can go back to something good, if you’re up front and honest.
This is the crucial moment where most pairs fuck it up and ruin what they once had. If you are unable to talk about difficult emotions/sexual issues and don’t want to lose a friend, please never engage in Sex With Friends in the first place. Because you will fuck it up. And you will never stop regretting being such a royal fuckup. In your defense, most people are just like you. Not many are evolved or open-minded enough. So don’t even go there; you can’t handle it. Just keep it in your pants and fantasies, where it belongs.
I maintain the benefits of Sex With Friends. As a more experienced adult, I can maturely decide on the potential for fun or fallout. Unlike college, I am now much more proficient. Since joining the real world, I’ve played the game a number of times, and had plenty of fun winning. Mostly chosen for pure enjoyment, once for the solace of distraction, I discerned the value of each worthwhile. They were fun while we played, each ended amicably, and they are still in my life as good friends.
And in a city where we are all racing about our hectic professions and lives with rarely a minute to spare for groceries or the gym, let alone the effort and mess of dating… Well, enhancing your aptitude for Sex With Friends can easily make your life that much more fulfilled. If you can handle it.
One blush means I’m amused (or have done something stupid). Two blushes = definitely interested. Three blushes, and the deal is sealed.
I have a crush.
Once upon a time… fate, genetics, and a healthy sense of humor got together one night and created my complexion.
We’re talking seriously pale here, folks. To the point of multiple childhood nicknames and countless burns. (I once got a sunburn sitting on a cafe patio by the time I finished lunch. [Okay, it's happened more than once.]) So the general exertion of walking from A to B, thinking hard, or even the general frustration of where I left my phone– they visibly show. I wear my heart on my skin tone.
Sometimes, I’m like reading a book. I can play a mean game of RISK, and a decent hand of poker… but certain emotions are easy to tell. Denying a crush would be like me calling a ream of paper white; the pot and kettle have nothing on me. So, color me intrigued– literally.
An honest to God, old school, makes-me-blush crush.
We run in the same group of friends, so I can’t tell you who it is. But I can tell you what he’s like.
He’s tall [no surprise], strong [makes me shiver], and goofy as hell [is there any other type I like?]. He’s the kind of guy every girl sits up a little straighter for when he enters a room, but doesn’t notice. He simply knows who he is, and puts it out there in a confident, natural way. Such a straightforward personality is refreshing in a city of professional ladder climbers and social manipulators. The world zeros in when he’s around, to the point where I’m more aware of his proximity to me than whatever I’m actively doing. The rest of life is just on auto-pilot. I’m not just saying he’s attractive; he’s actually beautiful. A lean build, great smile when I tease him, and perfect eye contact. The kind you can’t look away from; as if you would even want to. [Like in oncoming traffic? Doubtful.] I can be quite the cool cucumber, but he’s tripped me up more than once into being damn flustered. And I don’t get flustered.
He’s not the only one I’m sweet on, though.
I pick up crushes like baseball cards. Like this one, most don’t amount to anything more than simple appreciation. I like picking up on something that fascinates me about a person and admiring it. That’s the beauty of crushes. And any little thing can kick start it. A common one lately seems to be a cute guy sitting at My Bar ordering a great beer and shot of Jameson. That one gets me every time– there is something admirably simple about ordering the working-man’s boilermaker that pulls me. Especially when followed by great, easy conversation with an attractive smartass. (I’ve said it before: you DC kids really need to step it up and put yourselves on the line more. Hint: a free drink means the bartender is interested.) This week definitely introduced a new rockstar crush of the boilermaker variety. He only got me to blush twice; we’ll see if he returns as promised to earn the third.
But more than the tripwire that spins me into infatuation are the qualities that keep me there. A quick mind and clever tongue. Culture and curiosity. A sweet nature and spontaneity. Impulsive ideas and the confidence to see them through. Assertive smartasses really steal my heart; no wonder I moved to DC. Right now, I want someone who actually thinks, recognizes their impact on others, and puts it to good use. I’m a heart-on-the-sleeve kind of girl.
I put serious effort into making other people smile with random stunts or little gestures on a daily basis; I like to think there are kindred spirits out there. I even see small moments like someone offering their metro seat, or running after an elderly man to return his dropped glove [happened in front of My Bar Saturday afternoon]. Today, I watched a businessman– fresh off the train with a suitcase and the distinctly-DC running-late look– stop to give a homeless guy two $20′s and tell him things will look up eventually. Heart = warmed. But apparently my personal karma is playing it a bit sadistically these days. Life’s been throwing a number of sharp hardballs my way, and I’ve have a rough time of it. Nothing terrible, just consistently difficult. So I thoroughly enjoy fun times when they come, and safe-keep the sweet moments in my pocket for later.
That translates into when a sweet friend-crush interrupts me to say I have beautiful eyes, or a cute bar patron says I’m trouble and will have to visit again next week….. well, those are the butterflies I keep to make me smile again later. I take these little moments to heart– so don’t break them.
Everyone needs a little more love in their lives. I’m not just talking about candy hearts and teddy bears (though I won’t reject the classics). I mean acknowledging the homeless person you breeze past every day outside Farragut North, or the Metro Express lady in Columbia Heights (who is a real sweet woman). How about helping the mother off the bus with her toddlers and stroller, or giving the elderly a hand. And yes, maybe even bringing a flower to that cute someone who comes to mind, or asking them for a drink. Happiness and romance don’t have to be grand gestures at the Empire State Building or airport terminals. They also don’t have to have some weighted end-game of commitment or marriage. They can be little things. Like just saying, “Hi, I think you’re cool– want to go for a walk?”
So here is my challenge to the City of Politics and Pride: how about you try making a random gesture to brighten someone ELSE’S day, with no goal in mind beyond making someone smile. If you want to share it with the world, tell me about it and I’d love to have a follow-up article of stories. If you want to make it selfless and keep it to yourself, more power to you. But just try it– it’ll make this week more bearable for everyone involved. I promise, warm fuzzies are contagious.
And since I will be working Thursday night: Happy Valentine’s Day, world. This gem is thanks to an NYU Improv friend:
The internet has been seeing a lot of restaurant checks and server horror stories lately, most notably the “Redditor Waitress vs. Non-Tipping Pastor”. And now, I have joined their ranks.
When I first heard about it, I thought, “Way to do God proud, Pastor.” Then, when I heard she later called and got the waitress fired, it upgraded to, “Sometimes I wish I believed in hell, you asshat.” But I hadn’t experienced such an insult where someone clearly went out of their way to offend me, as it happened to this poor Applebees Redditor. Until this week. Apparently, some people think to themselves, “What would Pastor Bell do?”
Now let me be clear. I’ve worked all levels of front-of-house for eight years. I don’t mean I haven’t been yelled at, scolded, complained to, stiffed on tip, sexually harassed, condescended to, and all those other fun things humans think up to fuck with one another. These are simply occupational hazards. We deal with a lot of asshats in the restaurant business. We deal with so much disrespect, I feel like Aretha is talking just to me.The trick of the trade is to emotionally stunt yourself until you feel dead inside. THEN, you’re ready to go to work for the night. You’ve heard “if you can’t handle the heat, get the fuck outta the kitchen”? Front-of-house has the same mentality. If you can’t handle the job, then find somewhere more suited to your delicate constitution, cause this sure as hell isn’t it.
With that said, we all have hard days. Sometimes you just can’t shake the rude tone or abusive language of a table. Occasionally, you’re wound so tight and tired, the attitudes that would normally roll right off your skin decide to stick instead. I could make excuses. [Over]working two jobs, I had already worked ~60 hours by Sunday. My broken toe is still healing, I ache all over, and sometimes only candy and smiles keep me going. On my way at 9am, I easily could have been that sour-faced server that ruins your brunch with forgetfulness, irritability, and a hangover.But no. Somehow, I was in a great mood. It was a beautiful day, I knew there was a solid staff team on, and I had cash to buy people lattes. There’s nothing like walking into a bar on a weekend morning with a pile of hot coffee and fresh muffins—it’s great to see my friends happy. Soon, we were open, and my roommate and friend decided to visit for brunch. Then an adorable family was seated in my section, with the cutest 9-year-old girl ever. By the time they left, she had made me a present with the wax toys we give to kids. My housemate looked jealous, and said he never gets gifts from happy children at his job. Yea? Well I have to soak up the great moments when I can, to hold me through the crap ones; I just didn’t know a crap one would be my next table.
They screamed “ASSHAT” from the second they set foot in My Bar. The hostess pulled together a table for them, which they blatantly passed by to beeline for a corner booth instead. Six kids, clearly hurtin’ or still drunk from the night before, disheveled and un-showered, and so fucked up they could barely read the menu. I watched with my coffee as they all fell into the cushions, and one curled right up as if he were at home. When she tracked me down to tell me I had another table, all she could do was sigh and say, “I’m so sorry… they’re total dicks.”
Well that’s fine. I’m great with hungover people, they need compassion. Call me the Alcoholic Angel of Mercy—I’ll clear you up happy, right quick. So I popped over and asked if I could get them started with some drinks. All wanted water, one desperate coffee, and three wanted mimosas. The others cringed visibly, and I mentally wrote them off as needing constant refills. The one curled up like a drunk cat was, in fact, still intoxicated. That should have been my first flag.
But the real kicker was when I took their orders. Normally, I don’t care to note the race of my tables, but it’s relevant. Here, we had three white kids, two brown, and one black. While ordering, the black kid said he had an unusual question. Used to this, I laughed and nodded. Pointing to the Fried Chicken and Waffles on the menu, “I feel like this is only on here for a certain demographic…” And the table erupted. Some saying, “yea, seems racist,” along with others telling them to shuttup—and all at explosive noise levels. It’s usually best to smile and walk away. But as a white girl being told by a black kid that her bar’s menu is racist because we serve fried chicken and waffles… I take issue. I told them it’s a regional favorite and we serve southern cuisine—so welcome to Columbia Heights. Shut up and drink your free water.
The rest of their stay went relatively smoothly. I was repeatedly told how grateful some of them were every time I appeared, because whatever they were going to ask for was served before they even asked. One guy said he wanted to be called ‘biscuit’ every time I came over, and made me laugh. Their food was made promptly and properly, and inhaled at likely-unhealthy speeds. My section wasn’t seated much, because they were so Goddamn loud and obscene that all tables asked to move further away. Well, that’s peachy. Their bill totaled $125, though, so that should be a solid $20+ tip, and would make up for lost money. It was only 1pm, so I didn’t mind much. When the check was dropped, the Drunk One took issue with being charged for bottomless mimosas when he only had one. Two others had bottomless, and I was sure he had more than one, but didn’t care enough to argue and bumped the check down.
After they left, I assessed the damage. Between four of them, I was tipped a total of $15. One guy (pretty sure it was the kid who thought fried chicken is racist) didn’t tip anything. And finally, the Drunk One, the arsenic cherry on top of the whole fucked up shitpie. Not only did he tip me zero, but he wrote a little note on the tip line. His food cost of $21.00, plus a tip line of “dontrobme”, for a total of “kthxbye”.
That was the last straw. At least be a normal dick, like your reverse-racist friend, and don’t tip anything. But don’t come into my bar acting like a fool, degrading our atmosphere with your train-wreck attitudes and illegal intoxication levels, and ultimately go OUT OF YOUR WAY to insult the server who went above and beyond to help your disrespectful asses.
The busser saw the look on my face as I stormed away to the kitchen, and followed repeating with a calm voice, “Aw, come on now, Jules, don’t be like that…” and let me explode in the dish area. I saw several shocked faces from kitchen staff, who have never seen me more upset than disappointed over being out of my favorite dessert. After I blew off some rage, he offered a hug. It worked wonders, and kept me from crying. But I still burned with humiliation. Because that’s what it is. Imagine you worked hard all day in your cubicle, doing whatever it is you do, and your boss leaves you a post-it saying you won’t receive pay for the day’s hours. Because he’s drunk and feels like being an asshole. But at least he included a “thx” in the note. His sadistic glee definitely helped the situation.
In retrospect, it wasn’t the worst serving experience I’ve had. But I’m not going to rationalize away Asshat’s behavior; no matter how much worse other shitheads can be, he is still one of them. When I told my manager about it, he wanted to know which table, so he could have a few words with them. They were gone, but I told him how shit like this is all over the internet anymore. He responded, “You should Facebook that kid; people like that aren’t welcome here. He tries to come in again, let me know.”
So here it is. [He needs a name, so why don't we call him Scott.]
Scott, you are no longer welcome at My Bar. I will count it as my due payment if you never come again. Don’t get upset with me– it’s company policy. Asshats are not welcome at My Bar. You know where. But just to be safe, let’s make it the whole of Columbia Heights. It will be a public service to my neighborhood.
At the end of the day, I’m grateful for the stellar staff at My Bar. The rest of that day, and every day before and since, we have been a goofy, supportive team. They are my family, who I love with my whole heart– this includes our kickass regulars, who never fail to brighten my day.
And since a day isn’t complete without Aretha…
“Yea, and after brunch, we’re going to get group tattoos of our crew’s name!” Hipster Flirt responded.
“What the hell is a ‘crew’? Is that the yuppie version of a gang?” Confused Jules asks.
True story. Sunday afternoon, my girlfriend Adina and I went for brunch at The Red Derby. Hands-down one of my favorite dives in general; they also sport one of the best brunches around. We’re talking $2 Bloody Marys, mimosas, and Screw Drivers. I chose the latter; Adina had mimosas. These boys were several buckets of bubbly in, and clearly still drunk from the night before.
One of the things I love most about brunch up in our neighborhood bars is how eventful they can be. This past weekend, I either was either bartender or customer for brunch– and both days saw some crazy things.
Saturday morning, I was bartending brunch at My Bar. For those of you unaware of the epic proportions of awesomeness this entails, I highly recommend figuring out where I work and hopping over. We have bottomless mimosas and a full Bloody Mary bar. We have multiple Benedict options, and one of the best chicken and waffles around. Plus, you get to bask in my hangover-curing presence. Can’t get much better than that. It’s priceless, and served with love.
And that’s what my new favorite regulars believe, too. The Three Musketeers have been in a few times, but none more memorable than last weekend. Each a cool 20-30-something woman, the three of them together create a damn funny trio. They stumbled in around 2pm, stated they would likely be drinking their calories, and ordered bottomless mimosas in every flavor. Overhearing and joining conversations about everything from family politics and religion to sexuality and male alter-egos, they definitely made my day. [The pint-sized Birthday Girl described how she has an inner frat boy alter-ego, despite clearly not knowing what a frat boy looks and acts like. We eventually settled on a name, and Preston was born.] They stayed until 5, when Preston’s mom called asking when she would be arriving for her birthday dinner; well-intoxicated, she had to leave to sober up before facing her Mormon family. I believe I have a total girl crush on the lot of them, and look forward to our next brunch date. Also, on top of a healthy pile of bills, they tipped me with a huge heart-shaped pink cookie. It was DELICIOUS.
Sunday dawned a glorious morning in Petworth.
It started with me getting off on the mildly tipsy side of the bed, after a long, late Saturday night. I was awoken by a loud text noise from Adina, “BRUNCH TIME. WAKE UP, I’M HUNGRY AND THIRSTY.” Who could say no to that? Especially since I live a very few blocks from the Derby. So I pulled on some clothes and stumbled over to wait for her with a book and a quickly served, very stiff Screw Driver. [Seriously-- I'm talking yellow-colored vodka. I'm in love with the Derby bartender for oh-so-many reasons...] By the time she arrived, I was emotionally attached to the idea of Derby’s morning burger, served with all the fixin’s and a fried egg, tots on the side.
By the time we had finished most of our food and were nearing double-digit drinks, the table next to use was reseated. Four guys and a bucket of mimosas plopped down, and quickly grew rowdy. I’m talking “asking for the last of our tots and feeding them suggestively to each other” crazy. It was damn funny. One guy’s opening line was to tell me he loved my curls [we'll call him Curly], because they looked like they had a crazy night last night and were all disheveled now. [Which is exactly what they were; aptly described, sir.] Another simply exclaimed that Adina was the cutest girl he’d ever seen. He is the aforementioned Flirty Hipster. The tattoos were his idea.
Speaking of: after they’d eaten, we started to overhear talk of tattoo shops in the area. Curly leaned forward and asked if I had any. When I said no, I’ve played with ideas, but haven’t taken the plunge, Flirty Hipster had something to say. “What? No. You totally look like the kind of girl who would have tattoos.”
Okaaaay…. I don’t know what that means, but thanks? I’ll take it as a compliment. I love ink.
The interactions became more outrageous and more frequent. The Hipster decided Adina was the love [lust?] of his life, and Curly thought the same of me. We switched to beer. A round of shots were ordered. The four rearranged so the two were sitting next to their supposed soul mates. I had no problem with it; I wasn’t interested in any of them, but they were amusing as hell. Adina was laughing along and enjoying the attention, but quickly growing uneasy. Because she has a long-dedicated boyfriend. And the Hipster didn’t like the sound of that. He said it was okay, because he had a girlfriend, too. Then two seconds later, moved on to suggesting a double-date with Curly and I after they got their tattoos. Adina went to the bathroom, and the other friends had had enough of the tattoo talk. So our exponentially-drunk Hipster decided, “Either I’m going home with that girl, or we’re getting fucking tattoos.”
I think beer went up my nose then. So I smiled at the others and told them to get drunker, to help with pain tolerance; the tattoos were definitely happening. Because it wouldn’t be with my girl. Hipster didn’t like that idea either, so he bet me $50 he’d sleep with her by the end of the night, and I wasn’t allowed to cock-block. We shook on it, and she came back from the bathroom. In the long-drawn-out farewells, Hipster wanted a goodbye kiss. Adina declined. He wasn’t having it. So he climbed on to her lap, straddled her, and held her head to his chest. Repeating vows of love for her, he kept asking for one kiss to keep him going. The entire bar watched. It was surreal. Lap dances, at brunch. Who knew?
Naturally, I couldn’t stop laughing and was no help at all. He never got his kiss, though I think several were awkwardly showered on her cheeks. The boys eventually left, after insistently obtaining our phone numbers and “promises” to meet up later that night [clearly not going to happen, even if I didn't already have Downton Abbey plans]. We each received texts, ranging from persuasive to downright dirty, for the rest of the night. And when I told her about the bet, she lost it laughing. “We’re going halvsies on that, right?”
So, dear greater DC area: tell Don I’m looking for him. He owes me $50, and his friend Ken visiting from Connecticut witnessed that I have every right to mug him next time our paths cross. And maybe, next time he’s drunk at 11a.m., he won’t make outrageous brunch bets with savvy girls out to shark him.
Happy MLK-Obama Day!
Ooooh, I’m excited enough to burst. Two of my favoritest people in the world are renewing their vows this weekend, and I couldn’t be happier! Barry and Joe have been together for four years, and what a whirlwind their relationship has stirred. They’ve had their ups and downs, but in the end, the struggles made their bond stronger. And as a girl with starry eyes for Biden [literally] since birth, it makes me proud to see him with a worthy partner. In addition to Jill, of course.
Everyone knows you never forget your first time, and this is mine. Though the last time around was my first chance to vote [and what a vote!], I was still at university and couldn’t come down for the celebration. [I heard it was cold, did any of you die?] So I’m not missing my second chance!
Which means it’s going to be a long weekend. The housemates all have friends in town, so the Clubhouse will be at full capacity. Jules Junior, Fabala, and Abigail are trekking down from the Motherland for the occasion. And it’s Fabala’s birthday to boot! Friday, I will be working. But only because my friend’s band, Jonny Grave and the Tombstones, will be playing and I adore them. Saturday morning, the Brunch Bartender Extraordinaire will be serving hangover cures and love until five, and then switching over to serve a few more hours. Then I’ll be off for the event I’m excited for…
SATURDAY NIGHT: The Shitkicker’s Ball So. Stoked. I love the Looking Glass Lounge any day of the week, but this is a whole new experience. Want to join? I’m not even going to paraphrase the description.
From the big man behind it all, “Shitkicking is about starting dance parties where even the fucking dudes who wear tucked in shirts and try to hit on women using their LinkedIn accounts wind up breaking out the funky chicken; and when everybody shares not just phone numbers, but sacred family recipes from the old country for drunk food… Shitkicking is about standing up for the people that nobody gives a fuck about in this town. It’s about staying in the kitchen because you love the goddamn heat. As Omar put it in the Wire “How you expect to run with the wolves come night when you spend all day sparring with the puppies?”
Now THAT is my version of an Inaugural Ball! I’d wonder what to wear, but they are pretty explicit.
For the rest of the weekend, the Clubhouse will be an explosion of madness. Literally and figuratively. I’m taking advantage of all the people, and will be cooking on Sunday. So many things to celebrate! Barry and Joe’s vow renewal, my sister’s birthday, MLK’s memory, surviving the Mayan Apocalypse, being awesome people in general… You know how much I love celebrations. Specialty cocktails will be made. Food will be consumed. Bonfires, firecrackers, and sparklers will ABSOLUTELY be involved. And all done in time to wake up at the crack-of-death 5 a.m., in time to catch the metro and beat some of the crowd for space near speakers on the Mall. What are the chances Park Police would confiscate thermoses? Because I’d survive much happier with a lot more Irish than coffee in my system…
INAUGURATION: [better details]
5 a.m. Wake up, throw coffee in our faces, and race to the metro. Time subject to change.
11:30 Vow renewal, on the steps of Our Nation’s Capitol. From a view of a million feet, back in the nosebleed section. Likely will be hugging a jumbotron for warmth somewhere back near the Washington Monument. Did anyone else see that Kelly Clarkson is singing? Lame.
2:30 Ba-Rocking Parade! Unsure of my attendance. Might physically require sustenance by this point, and belligerently demand alcohol. Return to Columbia Heights imminent.
MONDAY NIGHT: TBD. So many options, so little of me to go around. Did you know that, for the mere price of a quarter of my rent, you could go to an official Inaugural Ball? Yea, that’s one of the reasons why these might be better. [For a full list of all bars open until 4am on Inauguration, check out my friend at Guest of a Guest.] Madam’s, R&R Hotel, El Centro, and more will be Ba-rocking the body republic all night, and I plan on fulfilling my civic duty.
Where will you be celebrating this grand weekend?
There’s an undeniably perverse sex appeal to smoking that transcends rhyme or reason.
I know, I don’t like it either. It’s a bad penny that keeps showing up in your pocket, covered in grime, but somehow still works. I can’t help seeing it and thinking, “Yea, alright then. I’ll let it slide.” Somehow still ups the tally.
The guy from this week (yet to be named; I’m waiting to see if date two occurs) is a smoker. Said he’s quitting, but I suspect that’s a dating ploy. So many people list is as a dealbreaker, he’s probably adapted to social norms. I’d much rather people be unapologetic. The Mistake was a smoker, and didn’t claim otherwise; he simply made sure I had a full drink and was content before popping outside for a quick one. But unlike with him, this week I joined.
When a date smokes, I usually send them out on their own and amuse myself talking to the server/bartender/surrounding patrons. I’m perfectly comfortable taking care of myself, and I appreciate the added proof to the guy that I don’t need his constant presence to enjoy my night. I’m not clingy, and don’t require incessant attention. It’s monotonous.
Unless you smoke gross cigarettes. A coworker of mine smokes something nasty, and each time we talk after a break outside, I have to fight gagging. And these excursions occur every twenty minutes. I don’t know which poison of choice he carries, but the smell trails after him like a shadow of ash and odor. It’s awful.
Some don’t bother me; I think it’s the more natural tobacco. The scent triggers memories of college parties and nights with Big Bro’s friends in Philly or home. It’s basement shows and late-night rages, wandering South Street for pizza and following DJ sounds to a new dive. They’re good memories. And I smoke hookah anyway, so not all tobacco rubs me wrong. As a social smoker, I see the shared enjoyment of it. The communal moments circled around a shisha or ashtray. The particular intimacy of a shared cigarette, or leaning to accept someone’s offered flame. There is something illicit in such communion; it’s dark and alluring.
What does hit me wrong are the brands crafted solely for chain smokers. You can actually smell the addiction in the air. It’s all strained teeth, yellow skin, and cancer. It’s my aunt’s chemo, head scarves, and funeral. It’s the kids that barely survived our high school, and a few that didn’t. They smell of degenerates, death, and dumbasses. I might date smartasses, and a few jackasses– but I never date dumbasses. If a were ever out with a guy that smoked these, he would never reach date two. Kissing these smokers is like kissing an ashtray of disease. Just don’t do it. I don’t want all of my kisses to taste bad.
Thankfully, Mystery Man’s smoke doesn’t bother me. In fact, I switched it up and joined his breaks this week. He seemed a little more nervous than me, and relaxed more in his zone. Our bartender is an industry acquaintance, and was more than entertaining on the patio. Plus, it gave me the opportunity to ensure him that I don’t mind cigarettes, though I don’t personally partake. I mentioned hookah, and he perked up that he had never tried it but was curious. So I explained, and added that one of my goals during my time in the Middle East was to learn how to blow smoke rings. We compared notes on the easiest way to make them, and promised I’d show him a few great spots if he’d like. I think this is when the date turned to more comfortable level for us both. The chemistry ignited and caught fire.
So he’s an interesting one. He’s older (a topic to be discussed in my upcoming article, “What’s Your Number?”), taller (despite size not always mattering, I really do enjoy a 6″4 guy), and new to the area. I love new people. Showing them around, sharing the city as I know it… nothing beats it. Because they’re just as excited as I am; others who have lived here as long or longer than I are typically calmer or more jaded about our town. I prefer the excitement.
And he is subtly exciting. He’s old enough to know who he is, what he wants, but young enough to still want something new. He lives rather far out in suburbia, and deeply regrets it– something I find attractive. I only want to see people interested in being in the middle of it all. He is rather good at dropping the most interesting comments into conversation in the most quietly unassuming way. Instead of asking if I like Doctor Who, he mentions how our topic is like an episode. (And I fucking love Doctor Who– very geek chic.) While talking about how he didn’t start drinking until his later-20′s, he modestly credited it to having to be out on his own at age 17, being responsible with a full-time job instead of partying. In lieu of declaring the much-sought-after ability to keep rhythm and dance, he broke off mid-thought and said he loves the blues tune the band was playing, and the inspiration to dance was distracting him. He loves live music, but also likes to be able to hear the person he’s with? Alright, then– let’s move to the back bar, where it’s a little quieter. And hey, there’s even a real fire back there! (Both figuratively and literally.)
He’s comfortable with who he is. He admitted the first thing he drank was a period of Rumplemints (of which he had to get the bartender to hit me a shot, since my lack-of-girly-drinking had never had it). So maybe he actually is unapologetic in personality; he laughed enough at himself for it, and maintains it’s a delicious liquor. He mentions his experiences being single in DC in a relaxed way, and has no problem with questions. He asks some on his own, too. By the end of the night, he offered to drive me home. We parked outside my house to finish a conversation long enough to make me wonder if I should kiss him. But I refrained; I made the first move twice with him already. First, in contacting him; second, in asking him out. I know he’s older, but he needs to make the next move. I need him to make the next move.
When I mentioned earlier in the night that I usually go to Madam’s on Thursdays for salsa and karaoke, he looked thoughtful and said he could probably make it. So I texted him yesterday that my friends are definitely going; he has an early flight Friday, and said maybe. Today, I texted that I promise the roof patio will be open to smoke this time, and I promise I won’t make him do birthday cake shots with the bartender again. He wrote back laughing. I understand flights and late nights don’t mix, but I can’t help hanging on the suspense if he’ll put in the effort. (And therefore judging a possible lack of it if he doesn’t show.) He’s attractive, tall, older, interesting– and fuck me, he looked hot smoking those damned cigarettes.
I don’t know if his smoke is hiding mirrors or if this is a genuine and sustainable interest, but color me intrigued.
Overwhelmed with scheduling holiday parties, making sure you don’t miss out on cultural events, or tracking down those seasonal activities you always seem to miss? Or the worst: not taking advantage of those favorite seasonal beers/drinks finally back for winter? [Speaking of which, where did my whiskey-nog run off to....]
Yea, I have trouble with that, too. Not just the leaking-glass issue, but keeping the season straight. Nothing is more traumatic than finding out you RSVP’ed to five different parties on Saturday, but Friday is empty. OH, THE HORROR.
So I’ve added a new page to help. All my favorites are there: family favorites like the Zoo’s lights and the Nat’l Christmas tree at the W.H… to non-family-friendly classics like bartender competitions and late-night holiday shenanigans. My personal mission: as many beer/liquor sponsored holiday parties as possible. I have two this week alone. The page is constantly under construction as the days tick by, so keep in touch!
My next week:
Wednesday, Dec 12:
Wednesday is my only full night off this week– so I’m spending it with my favorites. Sally, Theon, and any other of the crew interested in throwing back serious holiday cheer will be gathering at one of our local spots. I’m campaigning hard for the first one:
DC Brau’s Holiday Party, via Meridian Pint. As the Pint says, “the Brau boys will be in-house spreading holiday cheer as only they can”, with 19 Brau drafts at happy hour prices all night. I’ve sent out the alerts, folks– I’ll be there in full force. Those barrel-aged beers are MINE. And I adore the bartenders; you know my weakness. The younger ones are cute and flirty, the older ones are badass, and they all know their shit. Sit and ask for a pull of their favorite, and you’ll never be disappointed.
Head to the Churchkey for the unveiling of L’Interimaire, the new Bluejacket/ Dogfish Head collaboration. No cover, pours start at 6pm, and individually priced. As Dogfish Head holds a special place in my heart, this event might bring me unique seasonal cheer. We’ll see where I decide.
Thursday, Dec 13:
Though I will likely go to Madam’s Organ for drunkeoke and my favorite salsa band, I’m insanely tempted to check out the Secret Stash Party at Scion. With over 50 beers not usually offered in DC, this is a brewnerd’s winter acid trip. Regardless of venue, I will likely be seeing a gentleman caller for our second date Thursday night. Mildly nervous. Details to follow.
Friday, Dec 14:
I’m stoked to finally check out an After Hours event at the Crime and Punishment Museum. This month, they celebrate the end of Prohibition with an all-out Roaring 20′s party, hosted by Canadian Club whisky. Throw on your pinstripes and flapper dresses, get to the speakeasy bar, and run free in the shut-down museum from 7-11pm. I’m so flustered, I don’t know which of my gangster getups to wear! Tickets may be purchased on the Museum site, or for half-off for one more day on Groupon– doesn’t matter for me, I’m on the guest list!
Team United Nations will merge again for a night of combined alliance for seasonal shenanigans.
Saturday, Dec 15th:
This coming weekend, my newest favorite neighborhood dive, The Pinch, is hosting a four-day Holiday Apocalypse Party. I’ve been a few times for food and late-night fun. The owner is a great guy, and passionate about quick, fantastic service, and the staff definitely deliver it. Plus, the downstairs stage throws me back to my years as a college live-band-party coordinator, and I mean that in the best way possible! Drinks are strong, beers are quite choice, and it’s all served with the neighborhood dive vibe we all love.
Friday the 14th is a JAILBREAK party, with four DJs bringing 70′s punk, glam, garage, and power pop on vinyl. Saturday night is an album release party for PRIESTS, with three additional performances. Sunday is Hangover Brunch Day, highly recommend the french toast and donuts; bottomless screwdrivers rock my world. The Apocalypse ends with a final show Monday, with DC’s the Sniff and a hometown throwback with Philly’s Cousin Brian. No Cover, any night. Killer atmosphere guaranteed. Wish Big Bro and Jules Junior were here to enjoy a joint DiscoCity-Philly bash.
ALCOHOLIC GOAL OF THE WEEK:
If I don’t track down and consumer the new Crown Royal Maple whisky, I will die. This is not a joke. I don’t joke about whisk[e]y/bourbon. Unless I tell you your drink doesn’t have any, because that’s a funny lie. If I made the drink, it’s in there. And the joke is, you’ll enjoy it.
So if you help me find this, I will buy you a drink (of your choice), on a night (possibly of your choice). I have been searching like a heartbroken, lost puppy every since my stepdad told me about this over Turkey Day. Message me here, or please tweet me, so I’ll receive news even faster. Thanks for keeping my holidaze cheery!
Or at least it could have been.
Waiting for a date at Jack Rose, I learned more about Notre Dame basketball than I care to remember (my F’in Irish friends would be so proud). By the time he arrived, I had already turned one attractive guy down and had been chatted up by the charismatic bartender for a solid fifteen minutes.
Here’s the thing about being late: it’s not just what it says about your priorities on meeting me. It’s not just my time you waste. It’s about the interest you lose to the hotter, more ambitious men at the bar who are not only approaching me– they’re present. Too bad this kid struck out before he even arrived.
I swear, I gave him a chance. He was as tall as advertised. Definitely as smart. But just not as cute, and his lack of punctuality cost him. Time is money, no? This is why, when I give advice to guy friends, I tell them to get there early. That way, they don’t leave opportunity for this to occur. And bonus: they have time to down a Scotch to calm any nerves. [Or just to enjoy in solitude.] Honestly, that’s why I don’t mind arriving first. Just sucks for the guy when the unfortunate happens…
The dating collateral lost by running late creates a sub- or fully-conscious predisposition to judge any further dealings with you at that level. Before you even take your seat, I’ve seen cute guys. I’ve been hit on by cute guys. And now, I expect you to match or improve on my night so far. No matter how cute some of you are, these memories will remain. If, at the beginning, I think, “this bartender is hot”– at the end, I will still think, “this bartender is hot”. With the addition of “and my date is not”.
Sorry, but the truth’s a bitch. If he had shown up on time, I wouldn’t have had attractive experiences to get me all charged up for disappointment. I still wouldn’t have been attracted enough for a second date either way [probably not]. But it might’ve been a more successful date [maybe]. He at least might have had the chance to ask to meet up again [unlikely]. Instead, we had interesting conversation while I internally had to block myself from scoping out the bartender too often.
So while you’re banging you head against the metro door, cursing yourself for running late [or just not giving a shit, because you're an asshole], just remember this: all those thoughts of the girl you’re meeting being stolen by some charming stranger at the bar? It isn’t paranoia. It’s actually happening.
Because while my date was struggling with the Red Line, I had a bourbon bought by the bartender who then introduced himself, asked again where I mentioned I work, and talked about returning the favor by coming to visit my bar sometime.
Guess who had my number in their pocket by the end of the night.
Tomorrow, I will be seeing my high school sweetheart for the first time in eight years.
It’s a crazy thought on so many levels. The fact I’m getting to see him; the fact we’ve kept in touch over the years– hell, the fact it’s been EIGHT YEARS. I’m not even close to old enough to have that long since I’ve seen someone significant, but there it is.
I should start at the beginning.
We were just kids when we met. When I started high school, I went on a volunteer trip with my church group. This one guy was a bit older, and I had a harmless schoolgirl crush on him. That is, until we talked a lot the last night of the trip and found out he liked me, too. Our group had stayed at the church we were rebuilding in the Blue Ridge mountains. We started talking about his training in the Army Reserve and plans to join after high school, and my particular hippie leanings as a pacifist. We wandered around the grounds and ended up in the field behind the church, under the night sky. Epic, adorable, romantic. Sparks flew. My teenage heart didn’t stand a chance.
And neither did our relationship. When my mom found out how old he was, she was [ok, fine, somewhat understandably] unsettled. I was a freshman, he was a senior. Three years is a pretty big difference, at that age. But I had always been an old soul, and a damn stubborn one at that. We fought over it. I had my first real taste of teenage rebellion, and relished the secret online contact and late-night phone calls that ended in us falling asleep. We talked constantly. I daydreamed in school. He wanted me to visit, meet his family, even go to Prom. I was smitten with the whole Romeo and Juliet vibe of it all. Not only was he a soon-to-be solider and I a card-carrying pacifist, but our families didn’t remotely approve.
This continued for months, until we had another church trip that winter. By then, the strain of distance and family disapproval had weighed on me. The adult supervisors were keen to the situation, and it soured the experience. It was bittersweet to see him, knowing I might not again. I crumbled under the pressure, and we agreed to get emotional distance to match the physical separation. I gave him a peace sign ring I always wore, as a joke to remember me by. I was utterly heartbroken.
In retrospect, I was a kid and bounced back just fine. We hadn’t been exclusive the entire time, so it wasn’t much of a social change for me, but the emotional impact felt real. The romance was over.
But the story didn’t end. We looked each other up over the years, and kept in contact pretty consistently. I found out that after we lost touch after the initial break, he did actually sign up with the Army. He was deployed to Iraq from ’05-’06, and was injured twice. The second injury was enough to have him sent home.
I heard through the grapevine that something had happened to him, and tracked him down via the wonderful interwebs. It had been two years since we’d talked. He said he had wanted to find me the second he got home from Iraq, but didn’t think I wanted to hear from him. Absurd. Of course I wanted to hear that he was alright. So we caught each other up, and went back into a sort of pen pal connection. We’d talk about our days, what kept us busy, who we were seeing, the heartaches, the happiness. Our favorite color. That awesome band we just saw live. The usual conversations of our age. Friendship.
There were sweeter moments, too. On nights when he couldn’t sleep after work, or I was up late writing a paper for college, we’d talk about that summer night under the stars, or the winter trip in the snow. It was fun to think back. When that movie, Dear John, came out about an Iraq War romance, we both watched it online together. [The movie is total crap, don't watch it; we ended up just laughing the whole time.] At some point over the years, he confessed how often he thought of me in Iraq. It comforted him to have someone to fight for, and it brightened his day to think of how I would have hated him holding a gun in the first place. Said he could hear me in his head sometimes, railing against the concept of war. Surrounded by bombs thundering and guns firing, I made him smile.
One night, he told me that he even brought the ring I had given him with to Iraq, and sometimes kept it on his dog tags for good luck. The second time he was injured, his Humvee was blown up. The explosion tore away both his tags and our ring. He told me how furious he was to have lost it. He always thought to come home safe, find me, and show me that it had been his good luck charm. I cried that it hadn’t been good enough to keep him safe. He replied that it did work; he was alive, wasn’t he?
Our relationship has represented a sort of romantic nostalgia over the years. It’s mellowed into a calm, warm place inside me. No matter how small other heartbreaks might tear me, those memories can always piece me back into a smile. He’s my chicken soup.
And now I get to see him, after all these years. He’s from Silver Spring, so he’s back this week for the holiday family visit, and we’re meeting up tomorrow. Jules Junior asked if I’m nervous– I can’t lie, butterflies have invaded my stomach. He hasn’t seen me since I was fifteen! Now that we’re adults, is this going to be weird? What the hell should I wear? And I’m concerned that he might want to initiate something! I don’t want to ruin what we have together by reigniting long-distance yearnings that spoil it. [And if Fairfax is too far away for me to date, South Carolina is practically the moon!] But it will be unreal to be in the same place just the same.
We’re going to meet on the steps of Natural History and kick around the museums and monuments. He hasn’t been down to DC proper in years, despite being a semi-local, so we’ll play at being tourists. Apparently we have a knack for being a picturesque, cliché duo. I’m not complaining. I’m pretty confident about our status in each other’s futures as the bright light/ chicken soup, and am bubbling with butterflies at the chance to add another day of memories to the story.
You know you’re just as excited for the sequel.
To be continued….
You know how Star Wars started off brilliantly, sucked for a bit in the Empire Strikes Back, and then nailed it again in the final film? Because that’s been my past few months.
Wait– you’re not a 40 year old nerd-virgin [nerdgin?] reading this at 4 a.m. in your parent’s basement between Halo games? My bad; I’ll explain.
So Star Wars is hands down one of the greatest stories of all time. [Just accept this as fact and continue.] I’m not talking about those new-fangled crap ones with Hayden Christiansen and CGI with speech impediments, which are not recognized in my world. I mean the original three. I grew up fighting with my siblings over whether to watch the one where the guys have to slice open and climb inside an unlucky animal in order to survive arctic weather, or to watch the one with those fucking adorable ewoks.
Y’know which one typically won out? The one with fucking adorable ewoks. Because Return of the Jedi is the best of the trilogy, and Empire Strikes back is just a heap of daddy issues and really weird incestuous undertones. Can’t beat ewoks.
So my past year’s been stellar. It had it’s ups and downs, sure, but it’s overall been pretty on par with A New Hope [the lesser-known but actual title of the first Star Wars film]:
1: I moved away from my childhood home [which was considerably cooler than Luke's, despite our lack of robots].
2: I’ve met a bunch of charismatic, attractive new friends who are equal parts totally awesome and complete trouble: check.
3: I’ve even hung out in bars with aliens to drink questionable cocktails and listen to funky jazz. Done and done.
Conclusion: I am Luke Skywalker.
Which brings me to the Empire Strikes Back– the second movie, and my past few months.
I switched restaurants to one in my actual neighborhood, with the added bonus of live music three nights a week. The food is great, drinks even better, and staff rocks my socks. My coworkers are a great [yes, and dysfunctional] family. I’ve mostly worked five or six shifts a week, have added ‘Bartender’ to my growing list of titles, and remembered just how much I genuinely enjoy serving. [Much better than hosting.] It’s been a lot of hard work, harder hours, and working to properly balance the ‘party hard’ end of that equation. I struggled with my identity as a college graduate working in underemployment. Never thought I would identify with something as dorky as Luke Skywalker, but I was definitely feeling his level of angst at my current state.
After two months of that, I received a call from my former Middle East policy internship. They needed a new, part-time coordinator during the week, and wanted me. Oh, happy day! So now I’m working at the office during the day, fending off pushy calls from diplomats and journalists, and nights and the bar, indulging my smartass social side. It’s a fair balance. There are even ewoks. [In the form of cute, nerdy hipsters; working our Trivia Night every week has been fun.] I’m still mid-movie and have yet to do final battle with Darth Job-Market to triumph for a full-time, stable, field-appropriate job…. But I’m definitely enjoying the plot for right now.
And, folks… there are even some dating shenanigans afoot. I happen to be a bit sweet on a certain cute nerd from one of my bar’s regular trivia teams, and just might do something about it. He’s no Han Solo, but his dimples and stellar trivia scores make up for it. And to throw family back into the mix, Jules Junior is coming to visit this weekend… I’m sure THAT will stir up enough trouble for our next chapter….
Signing off to return to top secret Dating-Jedi business [until I tell you about it next time],
p.s. I would like to conclude that this has, without a doubt, been the dweebiest thing I’ve ever written– but hey, since I wrote it, it’s now geek chic. And if you’ve read this far, it looks like I’m in good company.