Quitters Never Prosper?

29 January 2009


I never called myself a smoker.  I would always qualify my status referring to myself as a cigar-smoker, an occasional pipe-smoker, but never one of those awful cigarette smokers.  I justified this because I didn’t smoke that much.  A pack or so a week wasn’t that bad – I insisted.  My running excused me right? X number marathons equals Y years without having to explain, or worry, right?

The allure was easy and it had very little to do with the addictive properties of smoke.  Smokers were more fun, the conversations more interesting, and I smoked exquisite cigarettes.  I didn’t want to quit, but I have.  I didn’t want to lose those moments – over coffee, after dinner, with a drink, on the patio at a party – the knowingly shared moments, moments that border on being stolen.  I will miss the camaraderie of smoking as much as the taste of my particular brand.

Much like my friend, Foggy Dew, announcing my intentions increases the likelihood of success.  This is the rare occasion where my vanity is too my benefit – I hate failing, but public failure feels fatal to me.  Thus I share this journey with the interweb, I have even added a calendar* to track the time since I have had a cigarette.   Eventually the calendar will change to be the last time I have had a pack in my pocket because in a few months I will probably allow myself the occasional cigarette.

I will never proselytize to anyone who smokes, and if I am diagnosed with some fatal disease, the first thing I grab will be a pack of the exquisite cigarettes that I miss already. 


* see the link to the right

My Once and Future Plan for Valentine’s Day

28 January 2009

In Junior High School, the worst kept secret in my class was the insane crush I had on Jasmine Thomas.   The reasons for this crush are irrelevant – can you think of any reasons for your 7th grade crush that have stood time’s test? 

Sometime near the end of January, I decided that Valentine’s would be my day, my time to confirm what was obvious to everyone but me.  I started saving portions of lunch money, my allowance, and snow shoveling earnings to purchase a symbol of my affections. 

The morning of the 14th I left for school early to allow myself time to stop at the drugstore and buy a profanely tacky box of chocolates.   It was hooker red tin foil, wrapped around a heart shaped as large as my 12 year old chest.  The box of confections didn’t fit in my locker so I convinced my english teacher to hide it.  Even though Mr. Rybcyck had just given me detention the day before, he was a sucker for potential – he stashed the candy for me.

Given my twelve year old angst the day alternated between blurring through courses and moving glacial slow.  2:45 would come eventually.

There was no automated bell at this old fashioned Catholic school; the end of classes and the school day was marked by Sister Mary Too Strict ringing the schoolmarm bell.  As the tweenage tide moved left to the door, I moved against it to find Mr. R.  Always a serious look on his face, I gave it no thought when he handed me the package with a stern “Good luck & be careful, Refugee.”

Despite the five minute head tart (typo, but I’m keeping it) I knew that Jasmine would still be around – we all milled about searching for some inner cool.  That and she wore the plastic orange sash of a crossing guard.

When I bounded through the school doors, I looked for Jasmine in her normal spot on the other side of the street.  I took another minute but this box and my courage were burning a hole through me.  I was so impatient that I asked Kathy Blabbermouthson “have you seen Jasmine?”

She took great joy in pointing between the basketball hoop and the maintenance shed and saying “she’s over there…
with her…







In those moments, words really do echo in the space where your heart should be. 

I walked home that day, just couldn’t bear the indignity of sharing heartbreak with everyone who rode the #14 bus towards my house.  I almost threw the chocolates in the trash, in a little creek I passed, but I carried them almost the whole way home.  A mile or so away from home I passed a woman walking in the opposite direction.  “Happy Valentine’s Day” I said before pressing the box into her hands, “I can’t use these anymore.”

I just kept walking even as I heard her shout “thank you, thank you, you really made my day.” Her words did pause my pouting… for a minute. 


All these years later I do not relive that moment, or that heartbreak, though I have been known to occasionally give an anonymous gift to a random woman.  Neither have I ever really celebrated Valentine’s Day – it helped to always have to run a restaurant.  Without that pre-mixed excuse this year, I was especially happy to sign a client for whom I will be preparing a five course dinner.  Here’s the menu:


Lobster & Shrimp Bisque

Slow Roasted Pork Cigars with warm Spinach and Apple Salad

Wagyu Beef Tenderloin, horseradish potato dumplings, Artichoke and Asparagus timbalé

Mezzaluna  Pastry stuffed with sweet mascarpone cheese & fresh berries

Selection of Cheese with Truffled honey, wild berry compote, and toast points



Oh yeah, since it is Wednesday, I took my turn as contributing editor at DC Blogs. Go on  check out that which moved me more than most this past week.

And here are a few links for blog posts I also was digging but couldn’t use for whatever reason:

The Reluctant Grown-Up wrote A very touching story but not sufficiently touching that it makes me want to procreate.

Grateful Dating becomes The accidental advice columnist…

Georgetown Voice examines how the Gender Gap in Elective Politics extends to the Top Hoya Races

Precycling is the New Black according to Twilight Earth

I am not Admitting Anything

26 January 2009

I am not admitting that I have a shoe fetish.  In fact, I vehemently deny the existence of such a “not-that-there’s-anything-wrong-with-it” peccadillo in my world.  Yet while riding the Metro this weekend I saw a drop-dead gorgeous woman who was six feet tall even before she put on the boots, I will admit that I looked a little longer than I would have liked. 

Even if I could have avoided staring looking at any woman that tall, with seemingly perfect café au lait skin absent blemish or make-up, who could have ignored those boots?  Even if I were able to ignore her un-self-conscious laugh, and mellifluously rich voice, who could expect me not to watch the boots?  Even if I hadn’t wondered about the lustrous, silken look of her hair, no reasonable human doesn’t peep those boots, right?

To be sure, I saw her wedding band – exceedingly tasteful by the way – and noticed when her voice turned soft to take the call from the man I must presume her husband.  I wasn’t trying to be creepy Metro guy, and kept trying to focus on my newspaper.  But damn these boots…


How can anyone blame me?

Hearing a Voice of the Recession

24 January 2009

Late last year I wrote about putting a face to the recession; this afternoon I put a voice to it too.

One of the few downsides of my coffee shop, most coffee shops, is that one is forced to overhear the phone conversations of neighboring tables.  The following is an account of one side of a conversation from a mid forties woman next to me.

Good Afternoon, this is Jane Doe.

Mmm, hmm… mmm, hmm.

I’m sorry but I can’t donate this year.

Yes… mmm, hmm.

No, not at that level either, I just can’t do it this year.

I understand, but please…

Mmm, hmm.

No I can’t…

Mmm, hmm.

Listen, I know that I’ve given to your charity in the past; but I simply cannot do it…

Mmm, hmm.

I don’t want to be rude and hang up on you, but you are tempting me.  Do you really want me to suffer the indignity of admitting to you and anyone within earshot that I am unemployed?  Fine, I’m unemployed.  I haven’t worked in ten months, can’t pay my bills, and certainly can’t give you “whatever I can spare.” I can’t spare a dime and you might want to rethink giving people the hard sell in this economy.

Good bye!



Yeah, I didn’t have any words.

Next Thing You Know I’m Going to be Singing Kumbaya or Some Other Bullshit

23 January 2009

Certain DC Metro stations are burrowed deep underground – did you know that the Wheaton station has the longest escalator in this hemisphere?  For the deepest stations, it is substantively faster to catch the elevator. One of my locals sits about a hundred yards above one of these stations.  As a gentleman who favors expedience and preparation, I tend to know the exact rail car to board to be among the first to reach the elevator. 

There were four people and a toddler who rode with me: three 40 something women, an early thirtysomething and her barely talking child.  The young mother was struggling to get mittens on her son as he utilized the favorite word in any child’s vocabulary – No.  It went on this way for a few moments as he clinched and moved his tiny fists away from his mom.

Maybe it is the spirit of optimism surrounding Obama’s inauguration, but, for some reason I found this scene endearing.  “Look at me” I smiled “I’m putting on my mittens.”

“We’re all putting on our mittens” said the woman to my left as everyone nodded agreement while donning their gloves.

“Yes we are putting on mittens” I refrained in a toddler specific tone that emerged from a part of my soul I do not acknowledge. 

Mittens were secured and then I learned that he had more vocabulary.

“High fife mittens?” he shouted with an outstretched hand.

“Yes, high five for mittens” I replied with a slap to his celebratory little hand.

A Free Lesson to Restaurateurs in Navigating the New Media Landscape

22 January 2009


The modern restaurant professional has concerns that their predecessors could not have even envisioned ten or fifteen years ago.  In that short a time span, the dining community has seen an explosion in the voices influencing where they spend their money.  Where once the newspaper and magazine critics were the nearly exclusive dispensers of media acclaim, now the interwebs are chockablock with message boards, on-line chats, and seemingly innumerable blogs about restaurants.

The smart manager/chef/owner becomes a member of these communities, participates in the forums, and skims the largely valuable feedback of core constituents – those with a sufficient passion for food to spend time writing about it for free.  There should be frequent google searches to identify blogged about experiences at your places of operation.  Use the good ones to motivate staff and the bad should be made whole as quickly and generously as is reasonable.

What you SHOULD NOT do is flame some anonymous blogger who identified and carefully articulated perceived shortcomings in your operation.  You should not be so sack-o-hammers stupid as to conduct such flaming from a traceable IP address that leads right back to you.  You should not have less understanding of this technology than a five year old and leave your real name in the email box.  And if you are to be so impossibly dense as to do all of those things, perhaps you might rethink doing it after clicking on the google search “My Restaurant, My City, Blogs.”

I am fairly certain about the authorship of the flaming comments, but I have consciously not named either you or your place in a display of the gentility you lacked in calling me a: Fucking Moron, Idiot, Cheap Bastard, and a Tool.  I will say that it is a good thing you don’t get paid for your literary skills.

I don’t think that readership of this blog is such that a few less than charitable words from me will seriously impact your business, but a press release just might.  Just in case you’re wondering, “YourRestaurantBlows.com” is an available domain and ungentlemanly behavior just might make me angry enough to spend enough cash for it to appear on the first page of google searches.  In other words, I know I don’t buy ink by the barrel, but you would still be mistaken to pick a fight with me.

Someone Else Deciding What I Write…

21 January 2009

This interview has been making the rounds of the blogosphere for a couple of weeks.  One of my favorite Boston Bloggers, MegaBrooke did it recently and I was happy to have her ask me a few questions.

If you’d like to play along, just follow these instructions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. Be sure you link back to the original post.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


1- What is something about you that you don’t think gets too much airtime on your blog?

Oddly, I don’t think I write enough about restaurants on the blog.  I have a list of my favorite places, and a really dated list of restaurant week recommendations, plus a few other notes but; I still have a sensation that I am giving short shrift to that area.  I hope to better about that in ought nine.


2- Do you believe in soul-mates?

Yes.  Unequivocally, but I also expand the definition to include friends.  Romantically speaking I also believe in soul-mates.  I place my chances of finding one at roughly the same odds of being struck by lightening, or winning the powerball.  That pragmatic expectation does not stop me from playing in the rain, or buying my lottery tickets.

Though I believe the universe to have a twisted sense of humor – introducing us to the largely unavailable (geographically, emotionally, etc.) who feel right – I think that most excuses which prevent us from being with the right person are bullshit.  Those who wait for all things to be perfect are destined to wait forever.


3- What is something that a server has done to go above and beyond, guaranteeing a big tip from you?  

Like many current and former service industry members, I am a habitual over-tipper.  Give me decent service and you can expect at least 20%; good service will yield a gratuity as high as 50%; and for exceptional service, I have been known to double a tab.  I should admit, belatedly, that I know or am known by many servers, bartenders, and managers around town and these relationships often yield unsolicited comps which may inflate a tip in relation to a check. 

A few years ago, I was having a particularly craptastic day at the restaurant I was running at the time – a common condition whenever corporate muckety mucks left the confines of their offices and spent too much time in my restaurant.  Rather than inflict my bad mood on my staff and guests, I made the executive decision that both the restaurant and I would be best served if I gave myself the night off.  I found a cab and headed to Cashion’s Eat Place for dinner at their bar.  Upon arriving, I realized I had nothing smaller than a fifty and the driver didn’t have change.  I went inside – cranky with myself and the driver – to get change.  The bartender, like all good bartenders, was slightly clairvoyant because after I returned to the bar, I found a place set for me in the corner I prefer when I want to be left alone and a Manhattan was the cocktail flag that marked my territory.  Sullenness eased with the first sip of whiskey & sweet vermouth but it was erased for good when the bartender wordlessly produced an un-thumbed newspaper for me to peruse.  Reading the paper was a much better idea than reading the paperwork I had intended to be my dinner companion. 

Three incredible courses later, I was contemplating the cheese board to finish the meal and was in much better spirits.  No dessert menu was presented, but the following invitation instead: “Refugee, you just bought that young lady at the end of the bar a port and invited her to join you for dessert.  She’s visiting from New York and I am fairly certain you both could use the company at this point.  Don’t make me a liar; go have some cheese with the lady.”

The bartender and I had known each other for years; we were more than colleagues, but less than friends.  Still he read everything about me and my mood perfectly and introduced to me to a woman who remains a friend to this day.


4- How much is too much?

Too much is the saccharined sweet of arbitrary and unfounded affection.  Too much is a server who says “my pleasure” ten times during a meal in lieu of  giving good service.  Too much is one text message from the person you don’t really dig, and not enough from the person who has you smitten.  Too much is chasing buzz words instead of leading.  Too much is a coffee drink that takes more than five words to order.  Too much is the dress that renders my imagination useless.  Too much is the affected, the unnatural accessory that screams “I am not comfortable in my own clothes or skin.”  Too much is declaring that which should be obvious or discovered.  Too much doesn’t understand that so much is relative. 

5- What would your “warning label” read?

Contents are contraindicated for those who don’t dream, tilt at windmills, or believe in unicorns.  Common side-effects are eye rolling, exasperated sighs, and frequent arguments about the trivial, semantic, or unnecessary.  Also may cause extreme frustration, or profound dislike in severe cases.  Most test users found the side effects to be mild and decreased in frequency with repeated use.

This medication is not for everybody but those who respond to it generally have good to great results.


Oh yeah, since it is Wednesday, I took my turn as contributing editor at DC Blogs. Go on  check out that which moved me more than most this past week.

Random thoughts from the Bloggerational Ball

20 January 2009

I will leave the party recaps to my co-hosts – Katertot and LiLu both do funny better than I ever have and I am sure will capture the essence of the night.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t give some thanks to the people who helped make it the good time it was.   Huge thanks to all of the good people at the Reef.  The bartenders kept us all libationally lubricated and were charming throughout the evening.

Thanks to all of the bloggers, commenters, lurkers, and guests who attended.  I hope that you all had as much fun as we did hosting the whole shindig.

To all of those I didn’t get to meet, I am sorry we didn’t have the opportunity to hoist a celebratory pint, but thanks for coming.

Extra special thanks to those who traveled more distance than most to make it – you all know who you are.

It was really a pleasure to see all of you there.

Can You Spare Some Change?

17 January 2009

My coffee shop is a comfortable blend of working tables, deep chairs, a couch or two, and a lovely patio for nice weather caffeination.  The mix of people is similarly comfortable with students working in iPoded bliss along side self employed professionals, the unemployed looking for jobs, commuters who need a fix, office types who just want to be more comfortable for a spell, and a minimum number of parents with their hellaciously loud and annoying spawn.  I normally try to sit as far away from the hollering three footers as possible.

Tonight, however, a young mother and her curly haired and dimpled daughter sat perpendicular to me.  Besides my acknowledging smile* when they initially sat down, I didn’t pay them mind.  Peripherally I saw the little girl coloring or whatever it is sub two year olds do with crayons while mom sipped tea.  Then the little girl stood on her chair and started pointing at me and doing a modified I-have-to-go-potty dance.  For a few seconds, I wondered what the hell had her attention – she’s too young to notice something stuck in my teeth; I’m sitting down so she couldn’t see if my fly was undone.  What has possessed this child?

She climbed from her chair and did the barely steady walk of little humans over to my table.  She touched the sticker on the back of my laptop.


obama-hope-sticker1“Obama” she began to chant.  “Obama, Obama, I like Obama” she said. 

Not even a Kenny G serenade could have stopped the mile wide smile from spreading cross my face.  That’s a little more change I can believe.

I Got Five on it Friday – Volume VI

16 January 2009


First things first, I, Poppa freaks all the… wait that’s not what I meant to say.  First things first, Katertot, LiLu and I would still really like the pleasure of your company at the Bloggerational Ball – it’s free, no excuses (and you know that there is some dress/tuxedo/suit in your closet that is feeling unloved and begging to be taken for a night on the town.)  Email BloggerationBall@gmail.com to RSVP. 


It has been a while since I have had a Five on it Friday, perhaps because I recently discovered Amy, who writes If I had to Pick Five and consistently employs the Five concept with greater aplomb than me.  Anywho, time for another…


Five violations of etiquette that will make me want to lash you with a chain of paperclips

  1. Initiating a conversation on speaker-phone
  2. Being late without calling
  3. Failing to say thank you for courtesies extended, both common and uncommon
  4. Being so self-important that you think it remotely acceptable to park in a travel lane during rush hour
  5. Needlessly correcting someone in public


Five favorite renditions of patriotic songs – thanks Vittoria for the inspiration

  1. Marvin Gaye’s National Anthem
  2. Ray Charles’ America
  3. Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World (patriotic in my mind at least)
  4. Jimi Hendricks’ National Anthem
  5. We are the World (cheesy and dated, but still makes my chest puff and no need for a link)


Five Favorite Sentimental Things I Will Never Discard

  1. The band from the cigar I smoked after leaving the courtroom for the final dissolution of my marriage
  2. The cork from the champagne I drank the night President Elect Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party nomination
  3. The first thank you note I received from a guest at a restaurant
  4. The bottle of wine Mrs. C brought to the restaurant because we took Mr. C dinner every night while he was sick and she had to be away* – we didn’t do delivery but if you knew the C’s you’d understand why this was our honor and pleasure
  5. The menu that Charlie Trotter signed for me after my first dinner at his restaurant


Five Favorite Misconceptions about Me (from this blog or not)

  1. I eat fois gras and caviar every night
  2. I don’t like any bar where the drinks don’t come in a crystal cocktail glass rimmed** in platinum flake
  3. I hate all republicans
  4. I won’t drink inexpensive wine
  5. I take myself seriously


Five Favorite Sports Related Phrases/Sayings/Quotes

  1. A tie is like kissing your sister
  2. Reporter: Do you think you all have a shot against X Team; Coach: Of course we have a shot; we’re the only ones playing them
  3. Lou Holtz giving his pre-game speech to his Notre Dame football team right before playing Jimmy Johnson’s University of Miami Hurricanes: “They don’t like us and we don’t like them.  It’s going to be a battle out there – they’re going to hit us and we’re gonna hit em’ right back.  Blow for blow, never back down.  We’re gonna go out there and whip their asses in their own backyard; but do me a favor……… leave Jimmy Johnson to me.
  4. Reporter: Are you going to pitch Johnson in the opener? Baseball Manager: Johnson, are you kidding?  He’s so banged up right now, I wouldn’t trust him to throw a fight.
  5. I’m tired of hearing about money, money, money, money, money. I just want to play the game, drink Pepsi, wear Reebok – Shaquille O’Neal


Five Stories in the News I Don’t Think are Getting Enough Airplay

  1. Potential NFL first round draft pick opts for Rhodes Scholar – NFL can wait
  2. Outgoing President George W. Bush’s Justice Department violated numerous laws, and departmental policies in hiring
  3. Virginia Man uses millions of dollars of his own money to host an Inaugural Ball with free tickets to disadvantaged Americans – and he’s providing attire, hair stylists, bells and the whistles too
  4. Rachael Maddow – nuff’ said.
  5. Time for reader participation – you tell me what story should be the last on this list.


 * buy me a drink and I will tell you the whole story

** I know that 62.5% of you giggled at the word rimmed


Prior Editions:

Not Quite Five on but I Include It Anyway

The Official Volume I

Also Not Quite a Five on It but I Include It Anyway

Apparently I Don’t Count So Well Because This is Volume III

Volume IV – Just Go with the Wacky Counting

Volume V – In for a Poorly Counted Penny, In for a Miscounted Pound

An Easy Way to Contribute to the World

15 January 2009

“All that is required for evil to triumph is for good [people] to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

There are so many ways for every human to contribute to making the world a better place; most of those ways require very little effort.  This is one of those low effort ways.

We are expecting fiercely cold temperatures in the next few days – a low of nine degrees is forecast for Friday.  This weather constitutes a serious threat to the area’s homeless population.  I’m not asking anyone to give out blankets, donate coats, or volunteer at soup kitchens – though all of those would be great things to do.  What I ask each of you who stop by this slice of the interweb is to put the following number in your mobile phone: 800.535.7252.

That is the number for the DC Hypothermia Hotline.  If you see a homeless person attempting to brave the elements as you travel through DC at night, please call that number.  It is a free call and will connect you to a team of people who will go to the location you identify and try to coax people to come inside for the night.

These temperatures can kill; and you can save a life with a phone call.  Please join me in this effort.

What You Need to Know About Inaugural Balls in Specific and Black-Tie Affairs in General

15 January 2009

After reading Capitol Hill Style’s Ball Tips & Tricks for ladies, I thought that gentlemen might benefit from a small dash of advice. Whether you have been to a hundred gala affairs or this weekend is your first, there are a number of things that a gentleman (some items are gender neutral) needs to know. 

  1. Do not wear a watch with a tuxedo.  The logic of formality dictates that a gentleman in formal attire need not be burdened by time and will allow the evening to unfold and end upon its own accord.  If you really insist on violating this genteel custom, a watch with a black leather band is least offensive; a metal banded watch would be gauche, and synthetic bands make it clear that you are uncomfortable in your clothes.
  2. The things that must be in your pockets: cell phone, three handkerchiefs (one in your breast pocket to be given to a lady in need, two in your back pocket for your use and or contingencies,) a good pen, mints (Listerine Strips are preferable because they don’t rattle, and won’t interfere with the lines of your tux.)
  3. If your wallet looks like this:


There is a much longer conversation we need to have but it will wait for another time.  For the purpose of this evening, however, you need a money clip.  The only things you need to carry are: one credit card (please no more than two,) as much cash as you need, and your driver’s license.  A number of business cards commensurate with the amount of networking you expect to do is also acceptable.  Even an oversized paperclip would be preferable to that extra hump on your hump.

Resist the urge to shove anything else in your pockets.

  1. The best bang for your buck accessory in formal wear is the white silk scarf; it will change an average tuxedo into something extraordinary*.
  2. It takes about five minutes to learn to tie a proper bow-tie.  I encourage you to learn if you don’t know, if only for the reason that at the end of the night, you’ll want to undo you tie, let it hang round your neck and channel your inner Rat Pack.
  3. If you are attending an affair at a hotel, do know that the booze offered will suck, and that banquet bartenders are not the most skilled in the craft.  Expect to drink bad wine, generic beer, or a few options from bottom level spirits and wait too long for the privilege.  If you actually like drinks, go to one of the bars outside the ballroom and get a real drink.  Sure it will cost you, but avoiding the aggravation is worth it.
  4. Speaking of large affairs at hotels… even if the food is several notches above the borderline cafeteria quality that most will serve, there will never be enough of it.  You must eat before you arrive.
  5. A lost point of etiquette: always keep your right hand free for introductions.
  6. Do know that any one you meet this evening is met under slightly distorted pretense.  Meeting someone dressed in formal attire is somewhat akin to meeting a cross between another person’s PR rep, their avatar, and their actual self.  Know that you are the same.
  7. The galas will be crowded – the coat check especially – towards the end of the night.  Don’t stay until the end of the night. 
  8. If you are fortunate enough to have a lady on your arm this evening, let her set the pace of your stride.  Most likely she is wearing the highest heels in her closet and your sensitivity to those heels is best demonstrated by letting her walk at a speed at which she is comfortable.
  9. If you attend solo, know that there will never be an easier place to start conversations with strangers than the early part of the evening.  That equation changes once the place gets really crowded.  If all other words fail to come to mind, “you look lovely this evening” is a splendid opener.
  10. Finally, it ain’t too late to buy rather then rent your tuxedo – I would be happy to connect you with shops/tailors that can still make this happen – because men in rented clothing usually look like guys who have rented their clothes.  If you are attending a black-tie optional affair, a well tailored dark suit is certainly preferable to a poorly fitting rented tux.


* please pretend that I was able to master the art of forcing WordPress to resume numbering in the correct place.

Insomnia, or Why I Keep Commenting in the Desperate Hours of the Morning

14 January 2009

Twenty seven degrees is seasonable for three hours past a DC January midnight, but is an unreasonable temperature for an insomniac to sit outside and try to force thoughts from brain to fingers to computer keys.  I have little hope that cold air in my lungs or words on a screen will help me find restful sleep for the first time in a fortnight but what else do I have to do?

As I sit here, I am struck by the complete stillness of this night, like the air is being too stubborn to move.  Only manualy driven wisps of my cigar smoke move in the darkness.  Ideas do not come, words refuse to form, and sleep keeps mocking me.

An hour is enough.


Oh yeah, since it is Wednesday, I took my turn as contributing editor at DC Blogs. Go on – check out that which moved me more than most this past week.

A Slap Heard Round my Mind

13 January 2009

For such delicate hands, they stung more than I would have thought when they came across my face with as much velocity as she could muster.  I have never been slapped before, though I am certain that this was not the first time the thought has crossed a woman’s mind or that I may have deserved it.  It was, however, the first time I have respected Staci that much since prior to spending a night in her bed all those months ago.

This was a day to make pillow forts in the living room and not leave the house without exceptional cause – it was cold, rainy and raw, a January mélange that threatened to become the definition of the term meteorologist use when they have no idea what’s going to happen, a wintry mix.  Unwilling to separate my ass from my man chair, I blew-off a friend’s party that I should have attended, before I finally motivated to shower, get dressed and attend another friend’s party later in the evening.  After queuing for ten minutes while clouds spat icy rain drops down my neck, I finally entered the bar that hosted the second party.  I said hello to the Guest of Honor and few mutual friends, before I was able to wiggle into a bar space to procure a beer.

I noticed Staci at the end of the bar but didn’t think that she saw me.  In the time honored tradition of men everywhere, I faced the opposite direction from that moment forward hoping that our paths would not cross.  I stayed for as long as I could take the excessively crowded bar, talking with people I couldn’t hear, and longer than I should have tempted fate.  Goodbyes were said and I made my way to the door.  When I was almost outside I placed my left arm into my top coat causing the natural craning of my head to the right.  That’s when our eyes caught in an “it’s dark in here, did she really see me, just keep moving kind of way.”

I spent the bulk of what was left of the night holding up the bar of one of my normal haunts.  There were friends all around and I moved through various groups having cocktail conversations.  I gave Staci no further thought, until I stepped outside for a smoke and felt a tap on my shoulder.  In the sliver of an instant before she said hello, I somehow knew it was going to be her. 

“You didn’t want to say hello earlier, Refugee? And please don’t insult us both by telling me that you didn’t see me.”

I ignored the later statement as I made a slow turn to face her and simply said “Good evening, Staci” and I know that I used a tone that pronounced and mocked the “I” at the end of her name.  “It’s been a while.”

“A while since you talked your way into my pants, fucked me and never called you mean?”

“That is a charitable version of events, but sure, we can go with that one.”

“What version would you like?”

“Staci, is there any virtue in doing a post requiem on this right now?”

“You know, Refugee, for all your high minded poetry and philosophizing, you are just another asshole who will say anything, do anything to get what you want.”

There are few benefits to smoking, but the extra moment of reflection that a drag on a cigarette provides is among them.

“I’m sorry you feel that way, Staci.”

“That’s it, Refugee; that’s all you got?  Sorry I feel that way as if you not calling was somehow my fault?  And maybe it was, because I should have known that you were full of shit.  You are nothing but a snake-oil salesman.”

Her voice had raised an angry octave since we began speaking.  I am glad that this wasn’t a poker game because I know all of my “tells” were on display.  I could feel the vain in my right temple surging, my right hand involuntarily clenching, and my jaw tightening.  Deep breath, stay calm.

“Staci, we have differing recollections of events, and maybe I should have talked to you about it afterwards.  Either way, we are not going to reconcile those recollections tonight.”

“Just tell me why I didn’t get a phone call.  Don’t you think you owed me that?”

“We talked one night; I was in a vulnerable place we had a little too much booze and ended the night at your place.  The whole time we were doing that dance, for all the time we have flirted around and at each other, you represented yourself as single.  When we spent the night together I didn’t expect to wake and see men’s shoes next to your bed that weren’t mine.  I didn’t expect to see the same brand of razor that I use sitting on your sink; and I damn sure didn’t expect to see pictures of you and your man on your fridge.  I don’t want to be anyone’s man on the side, and definitely don’t want to be that guy without at least knowing that I was gonna be that guy.  I never called because I didn’t owe you a call and you didn’t deserve one.”

I knew then as I know now that my inflection on the word “you” gave it an alternate meaning; and I could see in Staci’s eye that she heard it with all of the dismissive venom I had intended it. 

The feeling of her ring against my cheek lasted longer than the feel of her hand which had shriveled in the night air.  I’ve never been slapped before. Not sure I deserved it this time; but as I watched her walk away I thought “glad we weren’t inside so she could have poured a drink in my face.”

The Bloggerational Ball – We Made Some Changes You Can Believe In

12 January 2009

It’s like this…The Bloggerational Ball Committee has gotten elevenity nine emails from people saying, “Wish we could come, because we heart the Obaminator, but we are broke-ass due to these rough economic times.” And guess what? WE HEARD YOU. The new POTUS and his administration are all about Hope and Change and Egalitarianism and Saving Your 401K. And we’re on board. So, we thought, why not be the ultimate embodiment of that message? Why not show our support of El Presidente via booze and a party that’s open to everybody and most importantly, FREE? As in COSTS YOU NO MONEY!!!!!!

In changing this to a zero cost of admission event, we were unable to rework the arrangement with Bourbon, our original location.  No hard feelings towards Bourbon and their management – they remain a great place to get your booze on and soak it up with bite of food – it just didn’t work. 

In the Spirit of Obama, we tossed the old game plan and came up with a new one:

We are going to congregate on the second floor of the Reef in our dress up clothes (hells bells we still want you to wear your ball clothes).  Katherine is still going to campaign for Ball Queen and will be taking photos for her drunkie documentary. LiLu will be brining tatertots from home and nomnomnoming away. If you can pry one out of her fists, you can have one. And Restaurant Refugee will be in a tux. And probably a Zoro mask to hide his secret identity. And drinking champagne. The only thing that has changed really is thecost and the location (and the perks, but whatever, the booze will still be flowing).

Come on out and BarRock the Party with us, kittens!

New Details for The Bloggerational Ball

Sunday, 18 January 2009, 8pm

The Reef

2446 18th Street, NW

Washington, DC 20009

Twelve Beers on Tap – 3 to 8 dollars

Pretty Tasty food – most items under 10 dollars

Celebrating the Obama Inaugural with a bunch of really cool people – priceless.

RSVP to BloggerationBall@gmail.com – it is only polite to give the good people over at the Reef a heads-up regarding the number of people attending.

p.s. For anyone confused by my sudden embrace of the word “kitten” or other phrases that aren’t my normal style, one of my lovely co-hosts, Katertot, wrote this post.


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