History Class

intelligence

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Three Blushes Make a Crush

Sweater unnecessary-- I will turn that red on my own.

Sweater unnecessary– I will turn that red on my own.

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.

This drink order says to me: "I have taste, pride, and roots"... Can I join?

What this drink order says to me:
“I have taste, pride, and roots”
…Hey there, can I join?

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.

You owe me a few random acts of happiness, Karma

You owe me a few random acts of happiness, Karma

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:

Revised: The New Yorker’s Article is On Backwards

I have some sassy remarks for a one Mr. Paul Simms of The New Yorker for his piece this week called “Restaurant Mental-Health-Code Violations“. It understandably caught my eye this morning, being a current and long-time member of the hospitality industry, and I looked forward to reading its quippy prose today on my bus to work [again: at a restaurant].

I was sorely disappointed.

Being the naive thing I am capable of being on occasion, I comically thought it was written for those of us in service, and as a pointed reminder to the served population that they should brush up on their manners. Clearly, I’ve put on airs and have risen far above my station with the thought of correcting my betters– so I’m going to run with it and mutiny in style. Ah, I love the fresh taste of insubordination in the morning!

The Article, with Suggested Revisions

Mr. Simms: Hostess at virtually empty restaurant asks customers if they have a reservation, then types on computer, then seats them at table right next to the only other customers in the restaurant.

Jules: Party of fifteen walks into a hectic restaurant on a Friday night, asks for a “quiet table” “away from children”. When hostess asks if they have a table reserved for them, party responds over the loud din of a crowded restaurant “oh, did we need one?” Five minutes later, they begin to teach the hostess how to do her own job by pointing at an empty table, asking if they can sit there, and making a fuss when they’re told it’s reserved. We don’t bust into your office and show you how to make a tax spreadsheet just because our refunds aren’t arriving quickly enough; I know it takes time and I haven’t a clue on the details of the system. Try that concept on for size.

I’m not saying I’ve done it… but I’m not saying I haven’t, either.

Customer over the age of thirty-five is told by server that chocolate dessert is “tight,” “off the hook,” and also “the bomb.”

Customer requests a “regular” sized drink, at the “normally hot” temperature, with the “usual amount of cream/sugar/etc”, despite the fact that they used entirely subjective terms. Customer returns five minutes later with the drink upset that it is too small, too hot, and not sweet enough. [Also: haven’t heard “the bomb” since middle school.]

Open kitchen layout allows customers a clear view of line cook wearing regulation hairnet but no covering on his gigantic, filthy lumberjack beard.

Customer harasses hostess into rapidly cleaning and re-seating them at a table, then complains about the surface being wet. Yes… that’s because it was cleaned literally five seconds ago, and someone was impatient. They later go into the bathroom and leave piles of used paper towels, puddles of water, and soap dripping everywhere. It’s ok, the staff will clean it.

Server repeatedly and aggressively uses the words “mootz-arell ” and “pruh-zhoot ” with a straight face, almost as if taunting.

Customer repeatedly and aggressively uses the words “mootz-arell” and “pruh-zhoot” with a straight face, almost as if taunting. Scratch that, exactly as if taunting– especially since customer not minutes before informed other guests they studied for a week in Italy one summer, and immediately asked the server [in broken Italian] where their family is from.

Party of seven all wearing flip-flops in plain sight.

Agreed. But I will add, to counter against the entitled rich, with a bejeweled woman protesting that her lapdog must be allowed in to dine as her emotional companion, pointing to another service dog already in the restaurant. That dog helps a man live without sight; yappy chihuahuas seem hellbent on me living without hearing.

I have an affliction that prevents me from hearing people that are not looking at me. This includes cell phones, any electronic devices, and especially when your gaze is misdirected at inappropriate body parts.

Server lies in wait to ask for orders until customer is at the climax of a long anecdote. Once orders are taken and customer has recapped anecdote up to the interruption point and is about to deliver the punch line, server returns to double-check on orders.

Customer never shuts up long enough for server to politely take orders, thus necessitating interruption. Later, the comment card reads both “overly attentive server” and “took awhile to take our order”, as if customer has absolutely no sense of irony. Even worse: cell phones. I refuse to acknowledge a person in front of me until they decide to acknowledge that I am a person.

Chocolate mousse with a single candle in it is served to easily embarrassed customer who agreed to have dinner with friends only on the condition that they not make a big deal out of his birthday. Birthday boy’s friends are the type who get the whole restaurant to join in singing “Happy Birthday” and convince themselves that this is actually what he wants, even though he wants to crawl under table and die.

Try being the idiot delivering that candled mousse when all the other servers pulled a duck-and-cover and you had to go it alone, hoping the birthday kid’s friends aren’t too cheap to tip for your humiliation.

While dining at Chinese restaurant whose tables are full of Asian families, non-Asian customer refuses to admit to companion that the food was not good; claims companion must have “ordered wrong.”

Working in an ethnic restaurant with tables full of enlightened diners, while new customers send back clearly described dishes for being “too flavorful” after eating majority of the plate, and insisting on a comp’ed meal or reimbursement of some kind.

Solo diner blows out table candle to avoid accidentally setting his newspaper on fire, only to have it relit repeatedly by busboy.

Solo diner refused ample space to eat at the bar, orders from anyone that walks by, even if clearly a hostess and not server, and then reads the same newspaper article over and over. For three hours. On a Saturday night. Leaves a five dollar tip, half in change.

Seriously, people. Servers aren’t robots.

Earnest foodie is despondent owing to an inability to conceal his revulsion at much ballyhooed stew of braised organ meats and raw root vegetables.

Earnest foodie should revel in the fact they found a place that served something as distinctive as a stew of braised organ meats and raw root vegetables, and go home to ballyhoo some more about it on his blog. They later tell server, after the order is sent, that two of them need everything gluten-free and a third is deathly allergic to table salt.

Server takes drink, appetizer, salad, and entrée orders from party of seven but writes nothing on order pad, despite complexity of order and multiple substitutions. Customer is forced to make halfhearted joke about server’s apparently prodigious memory. Server takes joke as a compliment rather than a caution. Server gets all orders wrong. 

Customers order variety of ethnic dishes at authentic restaurant, then send half of them back for “not being what they ordered” and “not like they had when they visited the country”, when in fact customers don’t have as firm a grasp of Italian/ Thai/ Arabic/ Chinese/ etc language and culture as they thought and simply ordered the wrong thing without reading the description.

Counter personnel at fast-food establishment being just ridiculous about one-napkin-per-order policy.

Customers clearly trying to restock their car’s stash of napkins and making a fuss when told that no, they’re not allowed an unlimited supply just because it’s a fast-food establishment.

Irate customer at nearby table repeatedly uses phrase “dry-cleaning bill” when arguing with server over accidental spill, even though it was a glass of water and customer is wearing tank top and cargo shorts.

No argument; succinctly put, my friend.

Server rapidly rattles off long list of beers on tap. One member of dining party asks server to repeat list. Server repeats list just as rapidly. Same member of dining party asks server to repeat list one more time. Everyone else in party wants to murder both server and customer, who ends up ordering a bottle of Stella.

Customer repeatedly asks server to recite long list of beers on tap, despite the fact that it is in print both on the table and the menus. Everyone else in the party should speak up and tell their friend to stop being a douche and just order Miller like he always does, since the server would like to but would get fired.

This would be life-alteringly cool.

Member of all-white waitstaff barks at member of all-Hispanic busboy staff in way that makes customers feel like those who just stood by and watched in Vichy France.

Member of all-it-doesn’t-matter-what-ethnicity party barks at all-ANYONE in the service industry in way that makes any humane person feel like those who just stood by and watched in Syria…. well, today.

So here’s the deal, people. We understand that it is our job to cater to paying customers– a lot of us are even good at dealing with your sometimes-inane requests. Like walking into a Middle Eastern restaurant and asking for a quiet table

or requesting your Thai to only be a little spicy [you need to learn how peppers are made]. Some requests are even along the lines of “I want a martini, but tell the bartender to not make this one so strong.”

Are you kidding me, ma’am? You do understand that a martini is straight liquor– how can we make it weaker? Would you rather have a gin’n’tonic? Or Screwdriver? No? You just want it in the fancy glass, don’t you. We might as well put juice in a martini glass, charge you $10, and pocket the change.

So here’s the deal, Mr. Simms. I understand that it can sometimes be hard to find a restaurant with a staff competent enough to make your lactose-intolerant Cobb salad, hold-the-avocado, bacon-offends-you, chives-give-bad-breath, eggs-are-bad-for-cholesterol, but extra-grill the chicken with dressing-on-the-side [which, for you non-Cobb eaters, is just burnt chicken on a bed of lettuce]. Sincerely, New York must truly be the edge of civilization if it’s difficult to eat without flip-flops and birthday candles flying all over the place.

Simple guidelines: ALWAYS make a reservation for a party of five or more on a weekend night, and at any time for one larger than six. Think about logistics, people. Hexagonal pegs cannot fit into square holes. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how important or educated you think you are– servers are people just trying to earn their pay. They are NOT servants there to be abused at your beck-and-call, and their profession does not give you leave to be condescending shits. So be nice.

They might be your leader one day. I know I will.

Geek Chic

One of the greatest adjustments one has to make once you move to DC is a fantastic one: your geekiness no long marks you as an outsider.

High school was a confusing time...

Whether it’s on a date or simply getting to know new people in general, we of the dweeby variety are pretty used to self-categorizing ourselves with a sense of apology if timid, and defiance if extroverted.

“Ha, sorry, I’m kind of nerdy like that…”

OR: “Hey, I geek out all the time– GET USED TO IT.”

Back in high school/ most of college, the only time you would see the mainstream ‘cool kids’ wearing what society has dubbed ‘geek-wear’ would be on their way to a theme party. They were only costumes, and barely recognizable ones at that– you just know those girls were wearing sexed-up uniforms to look more Brittany Spears-esque than bookish. But here? It’s legitimate, worn with pride, and [hopefully] representing actual intelligence.

In Washington, the identity is echoed everywhere you turn. Even in the most surprising places, you see yourself mirrored back from every corner, under each rock, and the eyes of nearly all the people about you. Half of the cab drivers I talk to were political science students in their home countries (though the job market forces them to seek the independence of the yellow chauffer in the Land of the Free). What I would dismissively refer to in college as ‘that geeky shit I did in high school’ are no longer educational programs that need explanation– everyone in DC did stuff like Model UN and Mock Trial. We’ve all been there, and now we’re all trying to live those actual lives as young professionals. It’s pretty cool.

In my mind, it's the girl saying this.

It’s smart, it’s sexy– it’s geek chic. The guys dress like Don Draper, and the ladies are redesigning the Marilyn-Jackie duo for a new generation (and yes, I’m evidently still coming down off the recent season’s Mad Men high). I wanted to talk to a cute guy on the bus one time simply because he was reading Game of Thrones. Nerd-dom has finally earned its just rewards, and is definitely a turn-on. I’m not sure what’s hotter than a geek-turned-man with a nice suit, skinny tie, and progressive sense of purpose…. but if there’s something out there that trumps it, my heart might not be prepared to handle the sight.

So geek chic is the thing to be. Unlike the older Urkle variety, we don’t lack social graces or fashion. We have keen intelligence, fierce ambition, and the passion to prove it. Whether we’re determined to make it as the next mind-blowing DJ or are expanding our Hill resumes to eventually run for office, there’s something we all share: that certain je ne sais quoi of sophistication that marks us without a doubt. We have class, and Washington is the place to shine.

Afterword: I’ve been toying with this idea for awhile– coming across a similar concept inspired me to finally post it. While kicking around the blogosphere, I tripped over someone worth mentioning (and possibly idolizing; I might have a bit of an intellectual crush here). Eric Schultz coined noveaux nerd for the new-and-improved Geek 2.0 version that I talk about. He describes us (yes, I say ‘us’) as:

When I came up with the term, I meant it to mean a young-ish urbanite that embraces how truly nerdy, geeky, and unabashedly stylish they are. In other words, the nouveau nerd has swagger. It doesn’t have to be about science. It just means you have a passion for learning new ideas, enjoy thinking critically, are socially deft, and you look good doing it. Nothing irks me worse than the idea that nerds are social awkward and ambivalent about the culture that surrounds them. Often, nouveau nerds drive the culture and shift perceptions about science, technology, and the arts. And I love that about our attendees.” [Interview found on Famous DC here.]

So he created an opportunity [movement? repeated display of sheer awesomeness?] for DCists to get together, learn, party, and generally love on eachother’s nerdiness called thirst DC. They all get together and turn a mix of laid-back lecturing, happy hour networking, and late-night flirting into what he calls a “sexy nerd house party”. I do believe I might have a raging crush on his– and everyone involved in Thirst DC– brain. Next event is April 26th; who’s in?

Want a [Smart] Cookie?

I’ve heard multiple guys here, when talking about the type of girl they like, state that they want to date someone smarter than themselves.

Is that a joke?

This just blows my mind. In a place where most people are highly ambitious, highly educated, and highly assertive, this is a tall order. Not because there aren’t women smarter than said guys– they have countless women to choose from here in Washington. The issue is for these guys to accept the fact when it looks them in the face. When they DO meet an intelligent woman, do they thank God for granting their wish? Or do they just find a flaw elsewhere that renders her impressive intellect void.

The second problem with this is on the female side: speaking as an intelligent woman, I don’t want to date a guy that’s dumber than me. Clear and simple. You want to date someone smarter? Well, I want to date someone just as smart as me. Not someone who thinks their brain is more capable than mine, nor one that puts me up on a pedestal in some Ivy Tower that I never attended. Intelligent women want someone who can be their match, their equal. We want to challenge each other, but in the end, see eye to eye on even ground.

I understand the sentiment, but it’s flawed. And I’m telling you right now, if a guy told me that he liked me because he wanted to date someone smarter than himself, he’d be deported to the friend zone faster than he could process his mistake. [I would later explain this error, once I adopted him and took him under my wing. I’m a fantastic wing-lady.]

I’ve been there, and it doesn’t work. I dated guys dumber than myself in high school and college– and I’m no longer in either of those places because I was smart enough to graduate.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask to find a guy that did the same.

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