History Class

Big Bro

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Bartender or Whore?

“What’s the difference between a bartender and a whore?”

We come in all shapes and disguises.

We come in all shapes and disguises. This is “covert”.

Apparently not much.

Lets talk about decency, and the lack thereof, one deals with in the hospitality industry. I was looking back at my writing this past year, and one episode stood out that missed publishing. The audacious depths of depravity involved in that night still set my nerves on end. This is the story of why I left the restaurant business.

I was working at the Pub that night, and had a rowdy group of 40 something’s. From the off, we had a stellar repertoire; very playful and assertive. I liked it. I had the women flirting and complimenting me and the men puffing up all flattering and grandiose. But towards the end, one of those charmers didn’t just cross a line– he charged it. He stormed the goddamn castle, sowing salt behind him.

After a night of excellent service for well over four hours and particular attention to my many attributes– both physical and intellectual– I was finally being cut (translation: let off work for the night) and cashing everyone out. While working on that, the big, belligerent bull of a lug went for the gold.

“So what’s the difference between a whore and a bartender?” he drunk-whispered as he leaned over me, more than invading my personal space.

Thinking he was starting a tasteless joke, I half laughed while spacing myself back to a polite distance. “I don’t know, what?”

“No, seriously, where is the line drawn? Because I want you to make out with this guy behind us. I wanna fuck his sister, but he’s looking all pathetic and needs a girl. She won’t do anything until he’s good. So you hook up with him and I get his sister.”

Just stop.

You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me. The aforementioned Sad Man was indeed looking like a half-drowned puppy swaying on a bar stool. His sister, well past drunk, was my biggest fan in the bunch. While I had a growing suspicion through our time together of an impending threesome proposition– which I typically find flattering or hilarious– this was unexpected.

“That’s not going to happen; here’s your check.” That didn’t satisfy him.

“No seriously, he’s not bad looking. If you’re a little drunk and like nice guys.” His suggestive leer did nothing to improve the ice running through my veins as his determination to disregard personal space actually cornered me.

“I’m sober, and have a boyfriend. No, thank you. Here’s your check.” He really can’t push this any further; there’s no way I’ll have to decline more than twice, right? 

It gets better.

“I don’t fucking care about you having a boyfriend or any of that, just do it. He won’t know. I really need to get with this guy’s sister. You’re my last shot,” the Lug said, dangerously unaware of the precarious situation in which he’d placed himself.

Know the fear.

Know the fear.

I silently handed him his bill, doled out the rest of the checks, and walked to the safety of the kitchen. Quickly. Before the explosive, homicidal rage overcame my desire to evade prison.

I’ve had nights involving sexual harassment many-a-time before; it comes with the territory, as a woman in service. But I generally squash those attempts and shame the perpetrators. Tonight was different: he hadn’t paid me yet. I had rendered services–apparently extensive services, given recent absurdities– and I deserved my pay.

Hold the phone.

How was I any different from a prostitute now? We both perform requested actions and are paid wages on a discretionary, performance-based scale. Now that I think of it, don’t they have a set, pimp-enforced price, rather than hoping to be paid what they deserved? So, in a way–and take this with a biting grain of salt–they are theoretically better-off. (Ok, that’s a thought that is going to fester.)

Well, I hadn’t received my due yet. So I punched a sack of potatoes in the walk-in fridge (to my immediate regret), and steeled myself for round two. I shamefully laughed it off, navigating the group until I got the receipts back. What’s the saying, fool me once? Yep, shame on me.

He tipped me under 10%. In this line of work, in this country, and considering my practiced expertise, this is wholly unacceptable. Especially considering the time I put into them and the horrible trash he’d dragged me through.

The sole redeeming moment: the evident look on my face upon reading his receipt did not go unnoticed. His buddy came over to ask if I had been appropriately taken care of. Out of sheer exhaustion and dejection, I shook my head and squeaked out a quiet, “Well, not exactly, no.”

He took the slips back and asked for my help doing math; the woman supposedly won over by the Lug joined in. Look– I’m no walking calculator myself, so when drunks request assistance in paying me properly, I’ll always be more than happy to help. He said the one sister meant to put 20%, and bumped his own check to 30%. Between the whole lot of them, I think I ended up walking with over $150, for a total of $350 for the night.

I can put up with a ridiculous mountain of shenanigans from customers (and coworkers), but I refuse to provide my industry prowess in an atmosphere where I don’t feel safe. The managers and doormen were appalled that I hadn’t immediately grabbed them, to their credit. And while I might have done so in the past, I had reached a point in life where I won’t work somewhere that allows room for this to slip by unawares. Most other women working there were shocked; they said they had never experienced anything remotely close. However, one of my favorite coworkers was the only one to speak up that she wasn’t surprised, and had been in the same boat many times over the years.

Even so, that was the night that broke this camel’s back; I put in my notice a week later. If I make $350 in one night and am still showing up at home in tears, I’m calling it. As much as I miss making rent in one weekend, the emotional damage really isn’t worth it. I left the industry in favor of committing to a real-world professional (read: office) career move. If I’m going to “whore” myself out– because let’s be honest, a lot of jobs feel like that sometimes– it’s going to meet my standards.

I’m going to be a happy whore.

jawsomeBonus story time!

In a jam for money this fall, I tried rejoining the serving masses at a well-known tapas spot in the U Street area. The hiring manager had boasted two visits from Michelle Obama in as many months, so I looked forward to finally bragging about rubbing elbows with the upper crust to Big Bro up in Philly, where he routinely serves the fabulous and famous. I didn’t have to wait long.

On my third day of training (already convinced I’d made a great mistake, and was planning a graceful exit), the hostess informed my trainer and I that a VIP was assigned to our section for dinner. She didn’t know who it was, but told me “Valerie something” when I asked after the reservation.

“You mean Valerie Jarrett?” She nodded, looking no more enlightened. Everyone else is still oblivious. “Valerie Jarrett is a Senior Advisor to the President.” Still nothing. “She’s Obama’s best friend.” A few faces lit up. I instead talked to a manager, who absolutely knew the name.

When a Secret Service agent showed to post up at a table nearby, I kept thinking about how advisors don’t typically go about with escorts. Two young black girls arrived at the table first, but I assumed one was her daughter. It still could just be her. Then my trainer bolted over to me across a packed dining room.

“Please don’t freak out. I know you’re new, and I don’t know if you can keep your cool or not. But Sasha and Malia just sat at our table. Get bread and water and please, please do not embarrass me.”

For a group who didn’t know Valerie Jarrett’s name, they sure make a fuss over the First Daughters. I had to subtly shoo away multiple coworkers who stopped and gaped at the table. One server even nudged me while I was refilling a water glass and not-so-quietly whispered, “Are those the Obama girls?” My face was not pleased. Jarrett did indeed accompany the girls, along with some school friends. My only moment of nervousness was when the girls thought about ordering another soda from me along with their churros, which put me on edge.

I’m sorry, girls, but I wouldn’t want to face your mother’s disapproval. I sort of worship her. You understand.

Luck of the Irish

"Jules' Ancestral Portrait" circa: who knows, we were illiterate

“Jules’ Ancestral Portrait”
circa: who knows, we were illiterate

The few times in my life someone has mistakenly quoted the ‘when you least expect it’ cliche, it has typically ended in heart-arresting glares or a smack upside the head. [If you say something stupid, I will punish you.]

Unfortunately, this spring had a twisted sense of humor for many in the District. The past few months saw friends falling in love with friends, roommates fooling around, coworkers getting complicated [officially called the Taboo Trifecta, f.y.i.]– it’s the Capital of Confusion around here. And I’m no exception.

Here’s the deal about the whole ‘Luck of the Irish’ bit: it’s ironic, in the true sense of the word. Much like the “blood vs. water” debate from awhile back, it is an abused saying. It actually refers to bad luck. [Like the fact that I need to replace a dying laptop, right in time to take money away from my Birthday Fun Fund!] Fact: nothing good happens to the Irish– and if it does, we didn’t deserve it. Or it’s some twisted version where the good and bad distort into something that only the Irish would consider luck. Example: when I was 20 and a senior in college, I was beaten pretty badly in a gang fight. Long story short, Big Bro, my boyfriend at the time, and I were jumped by 15+ kids on the street in front of my off-campus house. It was legally determined a riot. I ended in the gutter nearly curb-stomped. It was horrific, but we survived; I credit this more to my brother and ex than anything.

Fuckin' love lemonade.

Fuckin’ love lemonade.

When I finally took a shaky trip back to the house a few days later, I found a four-leaf clover. It was in the exact spot my brother tackled off of me the three guys about to kick my face into the curb and likely kill me. Now, that four-leaf clover rides in my wallet everywhere I go. Some people would say good luck would have been never being in the riot in the first place… but the way I was raised, it was a fair bit of good luck to have survived. And to have big, protective Irish guys around. [Notefour-leaf clovers are not called shamrocks. Shamrocks have three leaves, for the Holy Trinity, and represent Ireland; four-leaf clovers are rare, and considered good luck; five-leaf clovers are witchcraft and considered a sign you’re going to hell. So get it straight and stop calling 4-leaves shamrocks, or the devil will take you.]

Mid-March, this melting pot nation loves to paint itself green for a day to reap the benefits of what they think is the luck of the Irish. You want my emerald-tinted birthright on March 17th? At least know the mess you’re getting into. I told you I punish stupidity: your post-St-Paddy’s- hangover is payment for claiming my background, when you genetically cannot handle it. I bleed whiskey, so stick with your tonic and gin. My sadistic hope is that anyone claiming a heritage not their own– especially when it is rightfully mine– will next be met with a seriously unfortunate series of events. Because THAT is the true luck of the Irish.

Seriously, though... tip your bartenders/servers.

Seriously, though… tip your bartenders/servers.

Another factor of Irish luck is when you finally DO get something good, it’s when you don’t look for/want it. Much like the “when you least expect it” bullshit, only a serious pain in my ungrateful ass. Enter: my role in this bizarre Capital of Confusion. My typical DC life has followed a consistent pattern. I date, I experience, I write. Sometimes, I want more. But it’s summertime! Summer is for adventuring and new people! So it figures that, of all moments, this is the time only one person has managed to capture my attention. [And with my Relationship Attention Deficit Disorder, that’s no mean feat. Maybe he’s my RADD-erall?] And it definitely bites into my writing/ painting/ creative activity time.

Everything about it is unexpected. The timing, the meeting– him. Just as I’m gearing up for summer in the city, my favorite time to date. And one of the Taboo Trifecta, to boot! [Taboo Trifecta: friends, roommates, coworkers.] When it first started, I assumed it was a one-time thing, much like the majority of my liaisons. But then it happened the next night. Sparks took fire. And four times over the next week. And then five days in a row.

Now, it’s well over a month later. This fascinating Irish boy quickly blew right through my Two-Week-Expiration-Date deadline. [I have mentioned my dating style has the attention span of a goldfish, yes?] People learned of it the first few weeks, and we’ve met each other’s friends.  I hadn’t even realized it until we were at the bar with another coworker talking about dating/sex/et al. I mentioned that I typically get bored with guys after two weeks, and Smartass Coworker chimed in, “Hey, hasn’t it been over three for you guys?”

Pretty sure this is what my fairy godmother would look like.

Pretty sure this is what my fairy godmother would look like.

Realization, meet Dawn.

So I wasn’t looking for a relationship. I wasn’t even looking for a date at that point. I just wanted to go out and have fun with friends for awhile, since I’d been working so hard at the Bar [and still am, to explain the long gaps in posts]. But does my leprechaun godmother give a shit about what I want? NO. She knows what’s good for me, my thoughts be damned.

Which is why my claddagh is turned in. Because, want it or not, this Mick has stubbornly stolen my heart.

The Resilience of the Fragile

Recent addition to the John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic

Recent addition to the John Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic

A friend asked me last week if I was afraid of going downtown, on the metro, or being in DC in general right now. I was confused for a second, before I realized we had been talking about Boston a few minutes before.

There are few moments when I can be rendered speechless. It’s a writer’s nature to put the overwhelming into words, whether  of love or horror, but even we can be caught up with the moment. The past two weeks has one of them. There were no words, only a storm of memories and emotion. Before 9/11, my first of such moments were beautiful. Holding my baby sister for the first time. My first kiss. Surprise birthday parties. The little things that are both common and profound to the young. They teach us so much about how to exult in experience. We learn wonder, awe, and the magic of life.

Honest, brutal, empathetic perspective. -Syria

Honest, brutal, empathetic perspective.

Some of us experience the flipside earlier than others. 9/11 was my first, as a preteen able to comprehend the utter horror. Hyper-aware and intelligent, it rocked my world as I watched my parents crumble along with the news’ footage of the towers. While adults held their children close, we learned the fragility of our world. Our buildings crash down. Villains are real. And our parents and presidents aren’t invincible. But they can be superheros, after a fashion. Living smack dab between NYC and DC, we all knew people. NYPD and fire-fighters. My best friend’s aunt worked at the Pentagon. My godmother lived in Manhattan. My parents worried about the impact such horror would have on their kids, but adults got the worst of it. They’re the ones with a rocked sense of safety. One of my strongest memories from 2001 was an overwhelming feeling of family. When the worst happens, that love is what saves us. And families will always remember.

I was in high school when Katrina hit. Every school sport, club, and team exploded with various fundraisers. Again, humanity’s great family rallied together to grieve and heal. I have yet to visit New Orleans, but the greatest repeated admiration of the endlessly hurricane-battered city is for the defiantly vibrant statement they make. Weather won’t ever change their joie de vivre.

From Big Bro and Family

From Big Bro and Family

A few years later, my cell phone rang during a French lecture. It was my mom. Another ring; another “je suis très désolé”. My phone continued to vibrate. An apologetic “c’est ma mère” got me into the hallway. She choked out to come home. Refusing to tell me details via phone, something had happened. My professor should cancel class, the university would be shutting down. I was too young to remember Columbine as more than a whispered story, but Virginia Tech threatened my own blood. I never was more grateful for having gone to college in my hometown more than that day, spent clutching my mother in front of the TV, waiting for my brother to finally call in that he was safe. Big Bro and a whole pile of friends are Hokies, and thankfully all survived. I wore maroon and orange with a sibling’s pride to my campus vigil. We are Virginia Tech, and we are strong.

I have experienced great tragedy in my life. From a young age, into adulthood. From something as personal as a friend lost to cancer, leaving me feeling like the whole world has changed… well, to the whole world actually changing after terrorist attacks. I have seen friends off to war to be shot, and friends have been shot in the ignored warfare waged on our own streets here. Each time, the flurry of phone calls to see who could have been watching Batman in Aurora, or might be homeless after Sandy, are made. Each time, news– both good and bad– trickles through jammed cell towers. I hold a great number of runners and Bostonians in my heart; this time, my loves are all safe.

The only time [hopefully] that the Yankees will ever admit their love.

The only time [hopefully] that the Yankees will ever admit their love.

There isn’t much I can say about Boston that hasn’t already been said by the more prominent. President Obama’s speech caught my breath, with the quote about Boston being a state of grace. My favorite laugh came from a spoof-Happy Gilmore twitter, “Boston is probably the only major city that if you fuck with them, they will shut down the whole city…stop everything.. and find you.” And Stephen Colbert made me cry. “These maniacs might have tried to make life bad for the people of Boston, but all they can ever do is show just how good those people are.”

From DC, with love. The Run for Boston, 4/23/13

From DC, with love. The Run for Boston, 4/23/13

Because it’s true. When the evil fight to bring us down, the only thing good people can do is continue our lives in strength and grace. I would be lying if I said I have never flicked away a grain of fear for living in the US capital. I am far too informed to ignore the target this city makes to a mess of bad people. DC is undoubtedly an iconoclasm magnet. But that won’t keep us away from the places we love. We get back on to the Metro. We return to the Washington Monument. We continue life. This week, a group of runners organized a Run for Boston. I couldn’t attend, but a fellow blogger did a great write-up: thanks for running and writing, Dana. Great cities will always attract envy. Like our sister, Boston, Washington has a heaping of love, pride, and good people. What they, and the rest of the world’s response, embody is an undeniable human power. Threats only serve to strengthen our resolve. Our fragility isn’t a weakness, but a treasure. It makes us resilient. And there is nothing as inspiring, nothing to remind us of our original awe and wonder at the magic in life, as this resilience of the fragile.

And like all good people, we will hunt you down. So don’t fuck with us.

Boston strong.

Blood vs. Water

Unsurprisingly, the least-creepy phrase image when Googled

Unsurprisingly, the least-creepy image when the phrase is Googled

There’s that old saying about which is thicker, and therefore deserves the ultimate loyalty. (One is decidedly more drinkable; please don’t test it.)

But I learned from a Cracked article [where I learn most of my baller/ meaningless trivia] that the proverb’s been twisted. It doesn’t refer to your biological family like we think these days– it means the one you picked. Blood, as in blood-oaths and war; water, as in of-the-womb relatives. In short: your buddies are better than genetics, because you actually CHOSE them. You love family because you have to; you love your friends because you want to. And life is a fucking battle, so choose wisely who has your back.

I’ve always said something similar: one of the greatest things about growing up is this ability to choose your family. Because that’s who your friends become. The further away from the biological you move and grow, the more you turn to the surrogates in your life. The girlfriends who build a new sisterhood. The guy who steps in as an older brother, to roughhouse and/or protect you. A boss with those mystical parental powers of approval and judgement. On a very basic level, the majority of us will always have some makeshift family dynamic in our day-to-day lives. Whether you find them in the workplace or social circles (or both), the family dynamic is inescapable and omnipotent. It shapes your life.

As kids, friendships are forged mostly by default. You’re the same age, in the same class, seated next to each other alphabetically, or managed to have the same Ninja Turtles backpack. In high school, you shared the same athletic/academic/artistic talent (or mutual lackthereof), and were in the same clique. And college isn’t much different. Majors stick together, and dorm-mates bond. But out here in the real world? It can be harder as adults to find your family.

Is it just me, or is that big a fucking moron?

Is it just me, or is that bird a fucking moron?

Freshly pushed from the collegiate nest, we wander like hatchlings [read: idiots] around our new adult lives for a while crying “Are you my mother?” Think about it. For those of you who moved to DC without a support system– and knowing this city, it’s a large majority of us– there was a deep part of you starving for that close-as-blood connection. Some of us turn to classes or clubs to find it within similar interests (fuck bocce ball; but hashing is a “Jules Approved Activity”). Others simply go to a bar to meet people (arguably a similar interest, to those of us alcoholically-minded). Nearly everyone throws themselves into work until life figures itself out.

I don’t know what it’s like to move here without a single friend. Two of my best, Otoño and Sally, were already here. And that was hard enough! But between work and play, I found a few family trees to graft on to. My Restaurant the first year adopted me into a polyglot family spanning over a dozen global cultures. I had a fierce bunch of aunts and uncles, big brothers and sisters, all making sure I ate enough food and had the hugs needed to keep spirits up. Team United Nations pulled me into the wild world of clubs, DJs, and partying the sun to rise. Josef and the Roomies fill in as older brothers keeping me in touch with the art world.

And now, My Bar serves as home base. With a majority of the staff fighting in the DC job market, yet taking pride in Industry life, we understand each other on a very real level. In addition to our “Sunday is Coming” tradition, which kicked off to an awesome start on Easter, we typically meet on Mondays. The Pinch, our friendly neighborhood dive, has made Mondays their Industry Night– meaning certain astronomical specials for those in the know. The rest of the week, we knock off work and set up camp at the corner table at Wonderland Ballroom, where similar benefits are ensured. We take full advantage of industry connections, and have established strong familial ties between our bars.

My attitude, if visits don't happen soon. Everyone's been warned.

My attitude, if visits don’t happen soon.
Everyone’s been warned.

With that said, sometimes there’s nothing like your literal family. Junior visited with Abigail only once since Inauguration, and it almost felt like a tease because I had to work all weekend. Last week was Fabala’s spring break from high school, and it nearly broke my heart that a visit fell through. On top of it all, my dad was in the hospital for a fair bit (he’ll be alright, but a reoccurring worry). I had to work so much that I still haven’t gotten to pop home and see him. I’m currently the only veteran server at My Bar, and responsibility lays heavy.

The one thing keeping me going: I did get to visit Big Bro up in Philly a month ago; it was ridiculously awesome. He toured me around his favorite bars and restaurants, hopping from one bangin brewery to another craft cocktail bar. He works at one of Starr’s places, the Dandelion, where even their TOAST will make your mouth orgasm. I now have both a new favorite beer and drink– Triumph Brewery‘s Scotch Ale and Continental Midtown‘s ‘Blood and Sand’, a blood orange and scotch drink. I love DC and everything in it, but Philly’s mind-blowing food and drink culture reminded me why I almost moved there or NYC. [No worries, I don’t regret my decision.] One of the greatest things I left my visit with, though, was a strong calm with being an industry worker. Philly is such a great blue-collar-creative environment, and seeing everyone’s pride in their restaurants gave me a sense of peace I hadn’t felt in DC. So thanks to Big Bro, his lady, and all those goobers for the heaps of Brotherly Love.

Which I soon have the chance to return. Junior and Abigail are talking about visiting next weekend. The week after is Big Bro’s and my group of friends’ huge family reunion concert in Philly with our boys, The Heavy Pets (definitely check them out). A month later, the Phillies come down to play the Nats, which ensures a whole bundle of crazy along with it. Then Jules Junior, my pride and joy, graduates from university and officially begins the permanent move back to Our Nation’s Capital! In between all the Clan Jules activities, you can be sure there will be a pile of trouble with my District Family. Because life is best when you have a bunch of love from all corners. Stay tuned.

And because I can’t let the opportunity go to introduce you, this is from last year’s show:


EASTER IS COMING

So cute, I just wanna sink my teeth into them! *Caution: vegetarian with a sick sense of humor.

So cute, I just wanna sink my teeth into them!

Hey, folks! After quite a hiatus there [sorry about that], I’m back! And what a weekend to swing back in on. Happy Easter-Who-Thrones-fest!

So we all know I’m an epic nerd, bringing new levels of kickass to our geek chic culture here in DC. Not only is it Easter, the world’s best-sundressed holiday for eating fluffy things in every shade of pastel, but it’s been a two-day marathon of the most looked-forward to season premieres in all of Geekdom: Game of Thrones and Doctor Who. I will be abstaining from reuniting with my time-travelling love, in hopes of visiting the family later this week and watching it with Junior and Fabala… but my self-restraint stops there.

Caution: vegetarian with a seriously twisted sense of humor.

Caution: vegetarian with a seriously twisted sense of humor.

Tonight, Adina and I are hosting an all-out spring dinner feast, complete with the proper blood-sacrifices traditional to celebrate the resurrection of House Stark: bunnies!

Alright, I may be joking on that count. But we have some serious menu items in the works [that is, after I finish procrastinating with this…]. I’m making my potato-leek soup, caramelized onion-goat cheese turnovers, and pumpkin bread pudding with candied ginger and buttered whiskey sauce. [Yes, your mouth just orgasmed. It’s alright, that happens a lot.] The Teambuilders and other friends will gather for food and festivities.

After eating all our delicious food, everyone will shutthehellup at 9pm for exactly one hour, so I can pay homage to the Starks. *fingers crossed for dragons* Big Bro and the rest of the Jules Clan have been geeking out over every trailer for months [one courteously included at the bottom of the page].

Because I have to keep a few tricks up my sleeve to impress new friends and enchant boys via their stomachs, I’ll only list one recipe. The turnovers, I first made for Sef’s birthday last summer on a whim, and they’ve been a hit ever since.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, room temp
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 heaping tbl Dijon mustard
  • 4 oz. goat cheese

desDirections:

  1. Preheat to 450.
  2. Cut butter and cream cheese into cubes and mix with flour; knead into dough and cover with wet towel in fridge.
  3. Heat oil and fennel until lightly brown, then add onion. Stir slowly on medium until caramelized (~30 mins).
  4. Combine caramelized onion, Dijon, and goat cheese while warm; refrigerate.
  5. Roll out dough on heavily floured surface to cut into ~4 in. circles, and brush edges with egg. Spoon half tablespoon of filling in, and pinch edges closed. Prick tops.
  6. Space on ungreased pan and bake ~12 mins.

And since it’s Easter, and the day isn’t complete without actually eating cute, helpless things in effigy… we will indeed be creating the deviled egg chicks. SO STOKED.

Happy Easter-Who-Thrones Day, everyone. ❤

Smoke and Mirrors

Then again, ANYTHING Jon Hamm does is sexy...

Then again, ANYTHING Jon Hamm does is sexy…

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.

Gained serious cool points when I added that to my party resume.

Gained serious cool points when I added that to my party resume.

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.)

Dating suspense: drives me almost crazy enough to smoke.

Dating suspense: drives me almost crazy enough to smoke.

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.

Holidazed and Confused

Bahahahaha... me in a nutshell

Bahahahaha… me in a nutshell

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:

HA! Get it? Get it?

HA! Get it? Get it?

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.

OR

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:

Beer in front of roaring fire: can actually be accomplished at Madam's Organ, first floor, back bar. Totally awesome.

Beer in front of roaring fire: can actually be accomplished at Madam’s Organ, first floor, back bar. Totally awesome.

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:

I want this in my mouth SO BAD. #dirtysecrets

I want this in my mouth SO BAD. #dirtysecrets

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!

The Waiting Game

I’m not a patient person– what can I say, it isn’t one of my virtues. (The ‘good things come to those who wait’ cliche has always made me nervous.) So this tends to be quite the struggle in both my work and love lives. How long should you wait to call? How long is ‘too long’ when waiting hear back?

I will punch the next person that tells me the Circulator comes every ten minutes– IT’S ALL LIES

Sometimes, I feel like I’ve spent the past year waiting for my life to start. Waiting for the bus; waiting for an interview; waiting to hear from a guy. Just waiting for the water to boil, so I can get cooking! [You should see me on a slow business day at my restaurant, the minutes seem to crawl slowly over my skin until I’m bouncing off the walls from boredom.] Apparently professionalism and romance have a lot in common. In a lot of ways, it’s the pursuit of who you aspire to be, either as a career or relationship. They’re both presenting your better self in hopes of getting the future you want. Whether in the dating world or job market, the game’s the same: you’re looking to score. You want to win, and only your persistence will earn you results. But how long should you wait to hear back from your thank-you note after an interview? Do you text the day after a first date, or the night-of? [For that matter, should it be the guy or the girl who contacts first?] There’s a fine line between perseverance and nagging, and you don’t ever want to come out on the wrong side.

One of my home-state’s Senators is currently in the market for a new Staff Assistant. Not only did I vote and volunteer for his election in college, but he’s on Foreign Relations and anything international is kind of my thing. Thankfully, I know one of his DC staffers, who kindly pulled my resume and got me into the top group to interview. After being told the Assistant to the Chief of Staff would probably be my first interview, I was understandably stoked when I got the call last week to meet with the Chief himself. The interview went  exceedingly well, and ended with him asking how my writing skills are, and to expect an exercise soon from his assistant to gauge my style. Two days passed, and I still hadn’t heard back from my message to his assistant. I know that scheudles on the Hill are far busier than my lowly life in hospitality, but he asked for my writing sample as soon as possible, and I didn’t want someone else’s tardiness to reflect on me. I emailed my friend again, communicating my concern, and eventually got a response from the Chief’s assistant over a week after my interview. I’m now waiting again, after sending in my writing response. I expect I’ll hear back by the end of the week (though I’m not really optimistic about my chances…), but it definitely struck me as a similar struggle to what everyone deals with in dating:

“How long is ‘too’ long a wait?”

*le sigh*

However long it takes for that thought to enter your head– then it’s been too long. It really is that simple. If it takes you a week to think, “huh, wonder why I haven’t heard from them,” then it’s likely past its expiration date. If only three days have passed in what felt like agonizing radio silence, then you’ve reached your limit. Everyone’s lifestyle is different, so it’s unreasonable to tout some number-specific rule of a ‘Three-Day Deadline’ or some such nonsense. You never know how busy or slow someone else’s life is, just as they don’t know yours, so it’s unfair to judge. But it’s equally unfair to make yourself wait.

Everyone I know– myself included– has wrestled with this issue. As women, we wonder if we should: a) be assertive as a femme moderne and make first contact; or b) wait for him to man-up and show some damn initiative. Guy friends similarly deal with brooding over just how many days should they wait until calling for a second date, and does their decision make them seem desperate/ stand-offish/ God knows what else. A work friend insists that the guy should call first; she says that too many guys have gotten lazy these days, and need to put in some more effort woo a girl. I can’t say I disagree. From personal experience, I sometimes feel like I’m too assertive. My insecurity isn’t in wondering if the guy knows I’m interested, but that he knows JUST how interested I am. I suppose it’s possible to be too open a book, especially when it’s an audio-book on the loudspeakers. Once that precedent is set, a lot of guys will sit back and let the girl do the chasing. [For the record, I prefer two dominant people in a relationship; I want someone who can match me.] But if I’m genuinely interested in a guy and I haven’t heard back within a few days, then my emotions start to sour. What could have been a period of eager anticipation has now turned into feeling like I’ve been stood up, and that’s a damn ugly feeling.

So once you know it’s been too long, the next obstacle to deal with: what do you do now? Should you man- (or woman-) up and call? Continue to twiddle your thumbs and practice patience? Or should you just move on?

Depending on how many days it’s been, I wouldn’t just write someone off– like I said, you never know what’s going on in their lives. But don’t let yourself get strung along by a complete flake, either. I’m a firm believer in the whole “if someone wants to see you, they will” concept. If the connection you thought you had was genuinely mutual, they’ll find a way to get ahold of you (both communicably and physically, hey-yo!) There sure as hell are enough communication options these days, so there’s just no excuse for radio silence. Either you want to see someone, or you don’t– be honest about it. But stop checking your phone. If they want you, they’ll get their shit together enough to dial seven numbers. When/ if they do eventually call, its up to you on whether you think they’re worth another shot.  But if you pass the point of wondering where that call is, then stop checking your phone for their name; you’ll only wear your battery [and nerves] out. Instead, find something/someone else to amuse you.

Apparently EVEN people as awesome as dinosaurs have to learn to wait.

It’s a tough habit to break. Even as a self-proclaimed Impatient, I find myself sliding into excusing away my waiting. I haven’t heard from interviewers? Well, they’re busy. A crush I finally made some butterfly-inducing headway with still confusingly hasn’t called? Well… it bums me out, but I was away for the weekend and work schedules are a bitch. I did my best with the Hill job process, and all I really can do is wait on that one. With the guy? Well, I’m actually proud of myself for waiting on that one; I’ve fought against my childhood shyness in order to be assertive for so long, I’ve forgotten how to let a guy do the chasing for once. If this one doesn’t have the guts [or interest] to rise to the challenge, then it is certainly time to move on. At the moment, this radio silence has left me significantly Not Impressed.

In the end, a job and a guy really are the same thing: if they want me, they will make their interest known. But I’m sure as hell not going to wait around forlornly watching the phone for their calls, either! I’d much rather go play laser-tag, or discover a new favorite local band. If he remembers himself in time to manage transforming that sick forgotten-feeling in my stomach back to butterflies, I’m open to the possibility. In the meantime, it’s a lot better to make your own future rather than waiting for it to happen.

So who wants to go cheer the Phillies as they crush the Nats this weekend? I bet you a Dogfish Head that Werth-less drags DC down to his level and my baller Phighters come out triumphant! My Big Bro will be visiting for the game, and Jules Junior and I look forward to showing him around our town.

Though I prefer more than one a week, Big D and the Kids Table have the right idea:

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