Monday, March 31, 2008

Saving Daylight

Most people hate Spring Forward. I suppose because it causes you to "lose" an hour of sleep. But I don't see it that way. That hour isn't lost, it's just replaced with daylight that lasts until after I'm home from work, and the hope that spring really must be just around the corner. A few weeks ago, several days after Spring Forward, it dawned on me as I exited the Potomac Ave metro station that it was still light outside. And I smiled to myself as I walked home.

Along with the extra hours of sunlight, the promise of spring has brought with it the reignited desire to be social. This past Friday night, the Caterpillar and I accompanied the Queen of Clubs to latino night at a gay club way up in NE. Only a year out of the closet, the Queen of Clubs is a Southern Baptist with token expressions like "Lord, I apologize," "Bless her heart," and my personal favorite (and his solution to all of my problems), "Let's drink about it!" He's adorable and funny, like most gay men, and oddly proud of finally being a part of an oppressed minority. A fashionable dresser and a surprisingly good hip-hop dancer. One of those good catches that causes lonely single girls to declare what a tragic shame it is that he happens to enjoy kissing other boys. If I had a dollar for every person that mistakenly thought he and I were a couple, I'd quit my job.

He was able to lure me, lover of gay men and total lush, to this particular club with the promise of $3 jaeger shots; for the Caterpillar (lover of latino men and quasi-chola), the lure was gratuitous reggaeton. Even our skittish taxi driver couldn't sway us.

"New York Avenue, NE please."

"Do you know where that is? You don't want to walk around up there, there are a lot of shootings. You all are going to get shot. Don't count on catching a taxi home, we don't like to hang around up there..."

We attempted to assuage his fears by reassuring him we were not heading up to NE to take a midnight stroll. After all, we were asking to be dropped off at the front door of a club, dressed to the nines (the Caterpillar and I each wearing four-inch pumps). We arrived, the Queen of Clubs declaring, "I LOVE you! You are workin' it in those heels!" I winked at him. A girl can't hear that enough... even if it's solely from straight women and gay guys. There's just no ego boost quite like wearing stilettos to a gay club.

And after several rounds of shots, plenty of dancing, a drag show, and the hilarity of two beefy, scantily clad men dancing on boxes (one of whom was coming out of his hot pants, the other of whom was... ahem... fairly excited to be there), it was time to call it an evening.

We hailed a taxi just fine.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Flirting Shamelessly

Sometimes it amazes me that women really look out for each other. Even total strangers. The female race is one giant sorority whose sisters have unfairly earned a reputation for being catty bitches towards each other (mainly, I think, due to reality TV). But every once in a while, I get the feeling that those sisters are all just kindred spirits. ...Okay, so that feeling probably makes me a total pollyanna, but it also makes me grateful to belong to the gentler sex.

Today was Cheshire Kitty's birthday. And since she and the boy are still on the rocks (I won't even go into that, as the status changes what seems like hourly), she decided she'd rather have me join her for her birthday dinner reservation at hyper-masculine, protein-fueled, not-for-the-faint-of-appetite Brazilian churrascaria, Fogo de Chão.

Enter our waiter. I recount the following with the full understanding that it will read like a bad St. Patrick's Day cliché, but we had what has to be the cutest Irish waiter this side of the Emerald Isle. And I've yet to meet a woman who wouldn't melt at the sound of a delightful Irish accent, especially one attached to a wine-plying waiter who flirted shamelessly with Cheshire Kitty, even winking at her without a hint of outdated irony. He offered to help us select a wine, describing South American cabernets in a brogue that truly should be illegal.

"Wow. If I were a guy, I would not be able to stand up right now," declared Cheshire Kitty, as soon as he left to find our wine selection.

And after half a bottle each of said Argentinian red, plus after-dinner drinks and about two pounds of red meat each, I encouraged her to give him her phone number. But she hesitated, saying that she still didn't know what was happening with the boy. Commendable, I thought, and I backed off.

But she still wondered his name, imagining it to be some Guinness-soaked stereotype like Seamus, but insatiably curious nonetheless. On our way out the door after what was a truly memorable (albeit pricey) meal, she stopped at the hostess stand.

"I'm sorry, I don't mean to be forward," Cheshire Kitty offered, "but we had a wonderful server and I'm curious to know his name. Tall, heavy Irish accent..."

"His name's Daniel," replied the pretty Brazilian hostess. "And I don't mean to be forward, but..." she paused, choosing her words carefully, "...I wouldn't recommend."

"I'm sorry?" said Cheshire Kitty.

The hostess paused again but repeated the same words, emphasizing them carefully. "I would not recommend." Then she smiled.

"I see," said Cheshire Kitty. "Thank you... thanks very much." And we took leave of the steakhouse, heading towards the metro.

It was so simple. A cryptic warning against a smoking-hot yet presumably womanizing Irishman with an accent that must drop panties on a regular basis, issued by a woman who had nothing to gain by telling us so. And I thought about how sweet the gesture was, in this modern world where women are thought to be two-faced, backstabbing bitches and hos. A world in which strangers sell each other down the river for iPhones and off-street parking.

Kind of boosts my faith in womankind. But it also shows me just how magnetic cute, international strangers with exotic accents can be in foreign cities.

...Maybe I should move to Dublin.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Breaking Piñatas

I'll be honest. I love any occasion during which society allows you to drink tequila at 3 o'clock on a Sunday afternoon. Does that make me a lush? Best not to think about that now.

How I ended up with a group of DC friends (six in total) who all have March birthdays is beyond me. I'm the only non-Marcher in our whole group; a lonely Scorpio with a penchant for Halloween parties, wigs, and cupcakes dressed up as gravestones. But March is a bitch. No longer winter but not yet spring, it creeps up and bites me, leaving me to wonder where February went and how I'll ever find perfect gifts for six in a matter of just a few short weeks.

We now have a heavy contender for the best birthday party ever -- the Caterpillar's fête was this afternoon. Inquisitive and wise beyond her (almost) 24 years, she refuses to take any crap from anyone, and, yes, she owns a hookah. But she's also from Irvine, California. A white girl in a world of cholas who still gets hollered at by latinos on a daily basis. And undeniably loves it.

And so, at her request, we all gathered at our house today to celebrate the momentous anniversary of her birth. An east Los Angeles-themed fiesta complete with a Dora the Explorer motif, a Tootsie-Roll- and lollipop-filled piñata, carne asada, homemade salsa concocted free-hand by the Caterpillar herself, and ever-flowing margaritas. She's a freaking genius.

When I was little, I used to hate piñatas. Especially when the adults spun you excessively and pulled the rope just beyond your reach right when you decided to swing. To a kid, that seems cruel. But you know what? After several decades of (supposedly) maturing, piñata is back. I don't remember it being so goddamned fun. Maybe because at this point, I'm used to good things being just out of my reach while I spin blindly and try desperately to come out swinging.

And perhaps this was just what I needed. A little bit of the afternoon-drunk, vanilla cake procured from some random Mt. Pleasant bakery where a certain level of Spanish fluency is required to place your order, and some good old-fashioned, completely juvenile fun involving a bike-polo mallet as the only thing standing between me and a well-deserved sugar coma. I think, perhaps, my months of hermitage are finally and thankfully coming to an end.

Maybe, just maybe, I'm back.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sitting Shiva

"Have you ever been to that place, Loeb's Deli?" he asked, pointing out the window of our #34 metrobus at some McPherson Square eatery.

"No, is it any good?"

"It's New York Style. We're going."

He's in DC for nine short days, the first close guy friend I ever made. I met him in college in 2004, my senior year to his freshman. Ladies' man extraordinaire; my emotional rock during my unfortunate Sobbing Mess phase. Gives the tightest, most comforting hugs. Skanky fratboy with a heart of gold.

There are few things in life that I love more than a good NY-Style deli, so his choice took absolutely no persuasion. Work wasn't expecting me until 2pm, so after a lazy morning of making surprise cupcakes for the Queen of Hearts' 25th birthday, he and I hopped on a Blue Line train due west.

Gray days are known culprits for impressing upon me an unwarranted sense of melancholy.

We arrived, and I was amazed to find that their menu is a virtual plethora of Manhattanite delights -- matzo ball soup, knishes, kosher dogs, and deli sandwiches that feature nothing but glistening, marbled cuts of meat, piled high as the sky.

But just two bites into my heavenly pastrami on rye, the melancholy began to persist. Like gravity, if gravity was a weight that, instead of pulling you down, pushed. And it hit me that this innocent, meaty sandwich was forcefully reminding me of my grandfather's funeral.

I looked at him across the table and, blinking back the tears that I could not have seen coming, I vainly attempted not to think about how powerfully proud my grandfather would have been to see me now, an independent woman working for an organization that fights tooth-and-nail for civil rights. I tuned back in to my dear friend and tried desperately to focus on the words escaping from his mouth. He was talking about law school, and I was catching few words.

"Georgetown... waitlisted... ranked 13th, not bad... asked what kind of law I wanted to study... metro to Union Station... go out tonight?..."

It was then that I realized the rub. That this wasn't an isolated incident, to come and go and not to be thought of again. Instead, corned beef and kosher pickles would, from this point forward, always remind me of that weekend; of sitting shiva on the upper west side. Of the bittersweetness of seeing the family all together while simultaneously lamenting the reason for our strained assembly. Of placating our grief with tongue sandwiches on pumpernickel, and cinnamon rugelach, and whitefish salad on onion bialys.

If ever there was someone who would listen and understand, it would be him. He was, after all, my emotional rock. But his face was alight with the excitement of knowing about a gem in my own city that even I hadn't yet found, and of being the one to take me. And he waxed poetic about how this deli should be "our place."

"Don't ever take anyone else here," he said, throwing me his cute, trademarked grin. "...Or at least, not any guys you're interested in."

Don't worry, I thought, washing down the lump in my throat with a decent amount of Dr. Brown's Cream Soda.

I won't.