Can I say that?
I guess I should qualify that statement. I hate Adams Morgan on Friday and Saturday nights. And maybe Thursday nights, too.
Oh wait. I should warn you. This blog entry is not interesting. There’s no point, really. No moral to the story. No story. Just externalizing. It’s been a while since I stretched my writing muscles.
I’ve been a little raw lately. After having Leika euthanized I’ve been kind of withdrawn. Haven’t really been in the mood for people. And my father had a mishap and is in the hospital. Luckily that’s not too, too serious. He’ll recover after a few weeks of physical therapy but that was sobering. I visited the family this past weekend for the first time in, what, a month?
I wrote the following in one of those “25 things about you” flurries that was going around Facebook earlier this year. It’s about Leika. It is apropos.
Leika, my dog, is my daemon. Even when she’s not around, she’s around if that makes any sense. If you’ve had a dog or cat before you know what I’m talking about. Even when they’re not around or after they’re gone, you’ll hear the sound of their nails on the floor or the clink of their chain. She’s always at my heel, whether she’s there or not. Whenever you’re with me, imagine that there’s a shepherd-ish mutt sitting by my feet or walking beside me and you’ll have a more accurate and real Gary experience.
Anyway, I did get out a little. I’ve been out for some quality time with a few friends. Worked on some music. That’s always a good thing. Good friends who remind me — in the midst of grief — with their presence and availability that life can be normal and good and will go on.
A few people have asked me if I’m going to get another dog. I’m a little surprised that they expect me to. But no. I can’t do … that … again any time soon. Besides, having a pet is a lot of work and responsibility, especially when you’re on your own. It’s not fair to a young dog in particular to be alone all day. I did that for years in Cali. Plus you have to train them and what not. It’s an investment and I don’t have another 15 years or so of that in me right now. It’s the end of an era. I’ve accepted that and now it’s time to adapt to the new era. It’s kind of the same except I can go straight from work to the movies or to hear some music. Don’t have to go home at all if I don’t want to. I could go on a last minute weekend trip. I have a little more flexibility and freedom.
So. The tone of this blog up to this point? That’s been my state of mind, more or less. That was my state of mind when I went to Adams Morgan on Saturday night to see a friend play at Columbia Station and return a CD. I just want you to have a literary sense of the disparity. Like Michael Douglas’s character in “Falling Down” when he’s sitting in the traffic jam, the buzzing fly, the booming music, the stifling heat, the explosive frustration. Setting the tone, the mood.
I found a spot on 17th after circling the area for a while. Pensive, I walked toward 18th via Kalorama. You have to be careful in Adams Morgan, by the way. There’s a fair amount of crime. It’s a very diverse crowd: yuppies, college students, professionals, DC types, thugs, high schoolers, gay people, lots of cops. It’s a real mix. That’s generally a plus in my book. Of course, when they’re all drunk that’s not really my scene. And something about A.M. brings out the a-hole in people. Maybe because it’s crowded and congested. There are some people who’re looking to start something, too. A friend told me he saw two guys in one of the stores exchange some words once and one of them pulled up his shirt to the butt of the gun. My friend made it sound like an adventure. I’ve had dudes roll by in their cars and randomly shout harsh things. Not sure what my role is in that situation. I think I’m supposed to shout back and then a car load of dread-headed dudes is supposed to get out and kick me around for a while until the cops show up. Or don’t.
First thing I saw while walking toward 18th was two drivers almost mix it up. You know how it is. You turn a corner on a tight street only to realize that another car is coming toward you. Honks ensued. Normally that would be the end of it. But no.
“What the f— is your problem?”
“What?? F— you, bitch!”
“Oh. No. F— you. What? You want something? Get out of the car!”
“Get out of the car, you f—king bitch!”
All of this screamed nearly hysterically back and forth by the two women driving. It went on for a full two minutes or so. In one of the cars, I saw a guy in the passenger seat reach over and touch the woman’s arm to calm her down and keep her from getting out of the car. Apparently, she was ready to have a fist fight right there on the street. I just kept walking. That’s what I do. I don’t want or need to see it. I don’t care. I’m on my way.
Columbia Station was crowded. I’ve never seen it crowded before. Then again I’ve never been there on a Saturday night before. I managed to get my friend’s seat that she had occupied while on her set break. Ended up next to a very drunk, loud woman who was also a singer. Pretty. But drunk and loud. A, um, healthy young woman, shall we say. Bustin’ out. But loud and drunk. My veneer began to crack.
Behind the band, a large plate glass window with a view of the people sitting on the patio and the passersby. Lots of drunk frat boy types grabbing and hanging on each other like they tend to do. Hitting on women walking by.
“Hey, dude. I don’t think she likes us.”
There was a tall thin young woman dressed like a catholic school girl with pigtails and a bare midriff. Standing with her back to me and on the small of her back someone had written WWJD with a cross between the W and the J. Entertaining. And of course a drunk guy who probably felt about 100x cooler than he was able to be while that intoxicated trying to talk to her.
By the way, I don’t know how many of you are lone wolves like myself, but I learned something. If you go to a crowded place by yourself and grab a table, you’ll be bumped around a few times for larger parties. It’s a business and 3 > 1. After getting bumped twice, I had enough. I guess if you’re solo you’re supposed to hang out at the bar, but I don’t make a good sardine so I passed on that one. I wanted to stay until the end to see my friend off because she was moving across the country. But the sound of a drunk, uninhibited singer sitting in with the band and my standing around awkwardly and self-consciously was enough to top off my crowd-tolerance tanks. I went out to get some air.
And as I often do, I started walking and just kept going.
Up to the corner of 18th and Columbia. Same block, different world. That’s where the McDonald’s is. Along the way, club girls in line for slices of pizza. Leering drunk dudes. Couples walking down the sidewalk at various stages of flirting and fondling. Usually you’ll find black dudes hanging around outside of the McDonald’s. They usually look homeless and some of them panhandle. That’s my recollection, anyway. Saturday night there were a few guys who looked to me like they had just auditioned to be the posse in a Li’l Wayne video who were there for the purpose of harrassing women.
“Hey. Hey, miss. Hey, miss. Hey. Hey. Hey, miss. Come on, girl. Hey. Hey. Can I talk to you? Hey, miss.”
When the women ignored them the dudes would curse at them.
“Bitch. F— you with your rat-looking face.”
Something like that. There were two girls walking in front of me. They were slow so I walked around them. As they were passing one of the McDonald’s Gang, he reached out and touched her arm and not so subtlely touched her chest in the process. She ignored it and kept walking. He had a sly grin on his face and turned to one of the guys like, “You see that?”
Another female friend of mine had a similar experience that resulted in her getting physically assaulted. Reminded of that, it pissed me off to see it happen with my own eyes. But I just walked on. What can you do. That’s Adams Morgan on a weekend.
Saw two guys and a woman. Back on 18th by way of the western approach on Kalorama. One of the guys was cursing up a storm. Not mad-cursing but F-bomb-every-other-word cursing. Loud and cursing. I was thinking, how does she feel about that? Like, is that her boyfriend’s friend and they’re hanging out and this dude is being a complete, loud asshat? Or is he her boyfriend and she’s just cool with that? I tried to read her expression but, oddly, couldn’t find one.
I walked around for a while, wary of the group of young black guys that I had seen three times before. I guess they were just walking around, too, but you’ve got to stay on your toes. Can’t let your guard down. Lots of robberies and fights there. It gets gnarlier around about 3am, too, by the way. When all the bars and clubs close. Everybody’s on the streets and is f—ed up on something. Consider yourself warned.
Now, if you know me you know how the night ended. Want to take a guess?
That’s right. A late dinner at El Tamarindo. Steak al Caballo this time. Oh man it was so good. Not healthy, maybe, but good. A thin steak with two sunny side up eggs on top, rice and beans. What can I say. I’m a foodie.
Darn this introvert personality. Adams Morgan on a weekend definitely takes it out of me. Dread it. It amazes me that people are so into it. The whole clubbing, barhopping scene. I can’t relate. I went with some friends one night years ago to a club there. Had to get out of there. I had planned to have a drink, relax and maybe even dance with the chicks we were with. But those places put me so on edge. Like I was born to be a body guard or something. I go into hyper alert survival mode. There is no relaxing.
So I took off and went to El Tamarindo. Met up with a friend and had a good, relaxing time. It’s good for what ails you.