Archive for the ‘dupont circle’ Tag

From Russia House, With flubb   5 comments

207977215_ed94bb97cb1On Thursday night I went to Russia House with a girl I met recently. I tried out some dark Russian beer, and chatted about life. Before I left, I saw my ex-girlfriend downstairs sitting with a group of people at a table. When I saw her, her face was animated and she was obviously talking about something of importance. It looked like she was at the tail-end of a campaign speech, or in the middle of proving a major point. Either way, I walked over, and waved at her. In her peripheral vision, she noticed me, but she looked shocked. Actually she looked exposed, but I don’t know why.
“What are you doing here?” she said.
“I can’t even tell you right now.” I said with a smile.
“We’ll talk later.” She said somewhat abruptly.
I left, and ended up partying in Dupont for the rest of the night. But the next day, her statement knocked around my skull like a loose screw in a car engine. We don’t talk. We don’t even gchat. I’ve probably received one unsolicited call from her in the last two years. Why would she talk to me after running into me at the Russia house? Her expression weirded me out a bit. She almost seemed frightened to see me.
This made me think about the nature of things people say, and what they mean. We are so tied up with the way we communicate; people act weird around people they like, most women are afraid of the men they love, but an interesting stranger is always a good bet eh?
This is on my mind for a little bit on Friday night as well. Its cold and I don’t want to stay home. Staying home alone on a Friday night reminds me of too many past relationships. Too many winters were I had someone warm to keep me happy as bitter cold raged outside.
Earlier in the evening, I had another awkward moment.
I was near Howard University, eating a chicken sandwich. For most of the day I’ve felt light-headed, and the sandwich isn’t helping. I’m sitting there, watching a re-run of Smart Guy on a flat screen a few feet away, and my phone buzzes. It’s a text message from a girl I know, Q.
We were supposed to go to a bar for some early drinks, but I guess the cold killed that plan. The text reads:
Why don’t you come to my house. I have Gin, but no Tonic.
.This request seems reasonable, because its God awful cold outside. But moments after I arrive at the house, I realize a few things were off.  The first thing she asked me was if I’d been to the house before. I said no (her roommate is a friend of mine). The second thing that happened was said roommate, D, came home roughly eight minutes after I arrived. When he saw me in the kitchen drinking a gin and ginger ale with his roommate, I could see he didn’t expect me to be there.
As time passed, I didn’t even feel like I was there. They talked amongst themselves about little things; a missing sponge, some smoky chicken that was cooked a few days back; getting drunk on a Thursday, typical stuff.

It was almost voyeuristic, watching the cute yet intimate interaction of roommates on a Friday evening. Occasionally I tried to say a few things, but I didn’t think I had much to contribute. I started to wonder if I was intruding in some way. Even though I was invited into the house I felt as if I had strolled in of my own accord, loud and insistent, violating space.

My social intuition told me to leave (by now I’m sure D assumed I was trying to hookup with his roommate, but later I’d find out he didn’t even care) but the cold kept me inside. I popped out my laptop at some point and diddled on the internet.
D started watching the Jim Lehrer news hour and Q started using her laptop. I was a few feet away, sitting in the kitchen.  Then I also realized I’d never seen Q in a calm social setting before. I had only seen her at wild parties, where we gave each other drunken hellos and sprinkled random statements over the moment like beer foam.

The evening progressed into a strange dialogue that made me feel as if I was spiraling into and old yet  familiar place. Even though we chatted about normal things; something wasn’t clicking. Whatever good intentions had brought me to the house, it was backfiring fast. Conversation lagged, and I tried a little harder to make things work. This didn’t work;she look bored and a little frustrated. With all my life experience, for a little while I fell back into a childish naiveté. I wanted to know where the dark cloud came from, what was happening and why the early evening was quickly slipping into darkness. This didn’t happen, and I sensed it was time to leave.

“I have to meet someone else pretty soon.” she said.

I nodded. I felt this was an indirect (albeit polite) way to say it was time for me to go. This didn’t bother me. As adults when we are in socially awkward situations, we don’t have to talk about them, we just nicely tell the person to leave. Problem solved.

I started putting my winter gear on. I was still curious about what happened. I paused in the doorway for a moment as I headed out. (Like I said, childish naiveté). Like a young psychologist, I wanted to know what was happening. Was it bad energy? Body language? Something else? I asked her. So I said, “I feel awkward. Is something wrong? If so, please tell me. I’m very curious.”
She stood up for a moment, and sighed.
“You are a cool and interesting and all that, but maybe I’m just not a nice person.” She replied. I paused for a second. I would have scratched my head but I had my gloves and a hat on.

I didn’t really know what this meant. I’m not sure if anyone has ever told me something like  that. I thought she was cool, the statement made things a little more fuzzy. I thought she was a nice person. We were supposed to hang out at a bar. I think it was the house. Something about being there made things weird. Bloody cold weather!

As I turned to leave, I felt slightly worried. I wondered if my friend thought I was trying to hook up with his roommate, and what the subsequent fallout would be. As I walked down some cold dark steps towards the street I heard her voice behind me. “ Have a good night.” She said.
I walked towards Georgia avenue, heading back home. In my mind I wondered, “what just happened?”
I wasn’t upset, because I know that some groups of people just can’t communicate. They are like fire and ice. Oil and water. We must have been like that.
I thought about how happily D and Q had chatted to each other. It was like watching a sitcom, minus the Prague laughter. I thought of my living situation. My house is quiet, and my roommates are all but invisible. There is no happy morning greeting, no laughs about a missing sponge or a smoky pot, no outings on a Friday night. The house like many in DC; large, empty and cold. Every now and then I might hear laughter upstairs, or the sound of a television from a room downstairs. Sometimes, there are breaks in the silent moments. I might play some music, or I’ll hear the blare of a siren outside. If it’s windy, the shutters will rustle. My space heater hums. When my micro fridge resets itself, I hear a little clink. That’s about it.
Maybe at D’s house I had stepped into that little comfort space that people normally don’t see. That intimate side of people who live together, only seen by the clock on the wall. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to see it. Maybe that caused the cloud.

*  *  *
I go home and drop asleep for a few hours. When I wake up, there is a text message on my phone.
Its from a friend, Liz. My roommates and I are going to Wonderland, the text reads. I see it as a good sign. I head to wonderland, doing a light jog in the freezing weather to the metro station. I have a six minute wait at the train station. When I reach the bar, as usual its packed. I go upstairs and grab a drink. I’m still mulling over a few things in my head. I’m worried that I’ve somehow put a dark smear on my relationship with two people I thought were cool, and I keep thinking about what my ex-girlfriend said at Russia House.
.Its possible she saw the girl behind me and felt awkward, or maybe one of the guys at the table was her boyfriend and she didn’t want him to see me, I dunno. But something about what she said seemed rushed, and dismissive. I wondered why she looked so surprised to see me. I do live in DC after all.
.I grab a beer and stand watching the crowd. Tonight is not a night for dancing. The makeup of the crowd is a little odd. Mostly guys and girls with short hair cuts dressed like guys. It dawns on me that it’s a gay night.
The lesbian couples are semi-obvious. For the most part there is one girl dressed like a guy, then a cute (more “standard looking”) girl dancing with her. On nights like these, I feel as if I’m doing something fundamentally wrong. These women are happily making out, hooking up and going out. A girl who dresses like a man can get laid, but a guy who is simply a guy has to fight and cajole and twist things around to even get a half decent hello.
I feel like leaving, but Liz sends me a  text. (They actually went to Local 16 on U street). We are coming to the Wonderland now.
I chill for a bit and the music gets better. Somewhere on stage, a person hits the light switch, and the entire dancing area is cast into shadow. On cue, people start making out. A tall mocha-looking guy is making out with a short brunette beside me. On stage, a girl dressed like Andre 3000 is making out with another girl while they dance. More girls are kissing girls, and couples are kissing each other. I feel empty watching these people embrace. I would leave, but it’s so cold outside, and all I have is my quiet room to go to.
The DJ starts playing some reggae music, and I amuse myself by singing along. A scruffy looking guy comes over and hands me a flyer. “This is my party, we’ll be playing a lot of 70’s reggae music. You should check it out.” He says. I smile and say “Respect.” But I can’t bear to tell him I don’t really like 70’s reggae music. I find it depressing.
Liz and her two roommates arrive. They are both gay. It fits the theme of the night. They dance energetically to the music and disappear into the folds of the crowd. I see a girl come upstairs. I recognize her as Anna. There was a night last year she was all over me then gave me her number. I saw her the next day at a house party and she pretended not to know me. She is with her boyfriend. He looks like John Heder.
Guys in the bar are working hard to get laid, but I see that most of them will go home alone. We are such awkward creatures; we go to tiny spaces to consume chemicals that dull our senses, then stand in close proximity to other people to get a sense of community.
Freaky.
At some point, someone touches me. It’s a girl I recognize. She says a quick hello and disappears. A part of me wants to dance with Liz, but she’s betrothed to someone else, so I leave her alone. Her roommate is dancing very intimately with her, but he’s gay, so that’s cool.
After standing by the water cooler for ten minutes, I decide to bounce. I tell Liz goodbye and head downstairs. I see my friend. “I could really use a cup of tea.” I say to her. She lives a block away. “I have a long walk ahead.”She opens her mouth and makes the sound you hear when someone is feeling sad on 70’s Tv: “Whaap, whaap, whaaaaap.”
“You don’t have any tea?” I ask her.  She nods no. “No coffee?” she nods no again.
I realize she thinks I’m asking her to come over to her place using tea as a bogus excuse. “Hey its not like that, I’m just cold.” I say to her.
“Whaap whaap whaaap.” She says again. “I’m going to find my friend upstairs.” She says, and walks away without saying goodbye.
Whatever, I tell myself.
These things don’t sting me anymore. I don’t think people are inherently mean, confused or bad. I just think that as you grow older you care a lot less about things. Everyday you hear that people die, get shot, are raped, murdered, starving, bankrupt, homeless and ill. Can you really spend time caring about a negative statement? A random run-in? Or even think about someone you once loved? Probably not.
All you want on a cold night is someone to snuggle with. Someone to wake up naked with and smile at in the morning while you make tea and eat waffles after morning sex.
I walk back home, and surprisingly its not as cold. The wind has stopped and the blocks go by in a blur.  A few weeks ago on a night like this I would feel as if I wanted to escape, as if the events around me were a representation of who I was, but I know this isn’t true. Its just one of those Friday nights, when you have a few drinks, listen to a little music, and think about life.
Then you go home, crawl into bed and sleep.

LTD and the attack of the Superpants!   Leave a comment

It’s a Wednesday, and I’m feeling limber. The week has been pretty slow, and I can easily imagine myself doing something other than sprawling in my room in my underwear, watching Television and feeling sorry for myself. I can easily to that elsewhere, spend some money and get the same result. On Monday, my cool bartender friend Jen recommended that I pass through a special event at the club she works, at Club Five, because some drum and bass gods, (LTD) would be there.

Dupont is Dc’s gay central. This is an undisputed fact. However, whenever I go out, I wear my ‘superpants’. These are the closest to tight pants I have. In Jamaica we’d say they are borderline, white guys might say they are normal, and most African-Americans would say they are tight. Regardless, when I wear the superpants, my confidence boosts by a factor of maybe 10%. Something about feeling snug in my garments gives me a sense of power, like maybe how Leonidas feels wearing his mask, or having Spartan-esque sex with his supermodel wife. I’m heading to Dupont in these pants, and no doubt most hetero men might look at me with a raised eyebrow, but whatever.

I have a quiz in the morning, and I print out a small sheet of facts to study while I take the bus to Dupont. As nerdy as this sounds, if I didn’t do this, I most likely would stay at home, studying while i’m sprawling about in my underwear feeling sorry for myself. Once I get on the bus, I don’t feel so bad, (but as the night progresses this feeling would vanish) and I read my factoids until I know all about the origins of Radio.

When we reach Dupont, I pass by a small restaurant called Japone, where a friend of mine works. Two cute Asian girls tell me he left work early to head to Five. “Five is having a really big night,” they said. “Everyone is going there!” I told them that’s where I was going as well. “Ah, so we’ll see you there.” I think one’s name was Jess, and one was Bess. Or only one was Bess.

I walk past a band of kids playing melancholy music near the Dupont Metro station and snap a few pictures. Then I head to five. The guy at the door tells me my name is not on the list. I sigh inwardly for a moment, because I saw him let not one or two, but FIVE girls in for free. I tell him I know Jen, try and schmooze a bit, but he says there’s nothing he can do. Eventually I get Jen to come down, and I pay my reduced price of ten bucks to get in.

I love drum and bass. The way the bass kicks and the variations of the sounds layered over these beats always makes me zone out. It also makes me relatively anti-social. Even though i’m wearing my superpants and a shirt that looks fresh out of Ricky Martin’s 2001 wardrobe, I’m not feeling that confident. There are two modes I’m generally in when I go out:
(1) Meet girls mode (2) Observational super-existential mode

I realize after two minutes that i’m in mood number 2. When i’m in this frame of mind I feel like a sponge. I suck in all the details, and the little nuances of everything around me, figuring out how well it would sound typewritten. The club isn’t very big, but it has a sort of bat-cave vibe to it, with a massive screen hanging precariously over the DJ area, with funny lighting that makes everything look like its covered in flowers. The first thing I notice about the drum and bass crowd, (as I always do) is the number of really cute girls of ‘other’ races with white guys. I’m not sure what the reasons are, but whenever I head to these events, I tend to see very hot black/asian/indian/mixed girls with pretty average white guys. I stand in the middle of the dance floor for a few minutes with my hands tucked into my pockets, my eyes closed and feel the bass make my ears tingle. A guy steps on my foot–this happens at least twenty times for the night, and apologizes to me. I barely nod in response. “Hey, is this LTD?” he said. I nod in agreement. He seems a little put off by my indifference to his upbeat attitude. A strikingly attractive brunette sipping on what appears to be champagne is holding his hand and eyeing him lovingly.

I dont’ feel sorry for him.

Earlier that evening, I met up with my cool Japanese friend and headed over to Andalu, a bar right beside Five. The music was jumping, but no one was there. I only followed him there because I realized that I most likely wouldn’t be meeting anyone at Five, and I had school in the morning. We met up with Ania, a gorgeous Polish girl and headed inside. My superpants were losing their power… nothing was indicating this would be a good night. My ‘Happy Mondays’ theory seemed to be losing steam after two days. Ania and Mr. Japan talked excitedly amongst themselves for a while while I stood up surveying the bar. After a few minutes I headed back into Five by myself.

These outings are always interesting for me. It surprises me how lonely one can feel in a place filled with people. I thinks its a mental loneliness, mixed with the frustration that comes with people not really knowing you. Sure, I can stroll into the club like a penguin in five-inch heels, but that doesn’t mean much if no one knows you. I found it sad that I was standing in a club thinking of ways to write about how I was standing in the club.

After a few minutes, Ania, my Japanese friend and the two cute Asian girls I met earlier at Japone are all lined up at the bar. They laugh and giggle amongst each other. I’m standing somewhere near the corner. A flash of sadness runs through my system as I see their beaming faces as everyone holds up shots and downs them. “Am I a social pariah?” my mind says to me.
“Nah.” it replies, you are just having an off day.
More like an off life.
Before I saw them at the bar, I ran into them upstairs, following them mindlessly as they had fun. The only person that approached me was a drunk-looking blonde holding a white t-shirt and a permanent marker. “My friend is getting married, what would you say to her?” she asked. I thought about it for a moment, thinking of my torturous relationships and what I thought was neglected the most as it relates to me. I scrawled, “Always remember the small things.” On the left sleeve. She beamed a smile, and dissappeared into the crowd.

LTD, the main act comes on at about 1:05 a.m to much fanfare. I move into the crowd for a few moments, then realize I have no desire to hop around and scream “Whoo!” for a group I’ve never heard of. They play good music, but my energy is too low to enjoy myself.
I float outside the club without telling anyone goodbye and walk towards the bus station. I’m having one of those moments, when everything seems dark and blurry and I feel as if i’m alone in the world. These moments usually come during Christmas, when i’m walking home and the wind is biting my ears and I can’t feel anything other than pain in my toes and the stinging that frigid air causes with my skin. Tonight I feel like that, as if i’m in a weird void where i’m not really in the world, but existing around it. Observing but not participating. Its very disturbing.

I trot about in my superpants some more, looking dejectedly at the ground. I look at a large LCD display on the side of the road. It shows 81 degrees. I get a flashback of hanging out with my ex-girlfriend (before she was my Ex, or my girlfriend) during the winter in 2004. Back then, the panel said 13 degrees. “Fuck,” I say to myself. “I can’t escape.”

I head to the bus stop, knowing no buses are coming and sit down. It is now Thursday morning in the middle of the week, and i’m sitting at a bus stop in my Superpants. I feel winded, but i’m not tired. My legs don’t hurt, my mind is clear and I’m staring into the darkness of the DC cityscape. I watch cabs go by for twenty minutes, before I decide to stop one. The first cab I approach, the man hurriedly locks his doors and tells me he doesn’t drive to 1st street, where I live. Just great I think. A black man in a shiny shirt and tight pants has a gun tucked in an unseen orfice, just itching to rob a random middle-eastern taxi driver. I am annoyed for fifteen seconds.

The next driver takes me home. On the way back, watching buildings flash by in a blur of light and sound, I still feel like i’m in a daze as if I never really went to Dupont or stood up in the presence of all those people. I felt like I was still in my room, projecting my thoughts and existing outside of myself. Nights like this I realize there is a deeper, darker sadness inside me that I must tackle. I’m on U street, fifteen or so blocks from my little apartment, and I think that there isn’t much that gives me pure joy. For some people eating gives them pleasure, or the pursuit of a woman, watching a movie, cooking, helping people, even hurting animals or breaking glass. I still can’t pinpoint my source. The last time I mentioned anything about Joy, it was to my ex-girlfriend. “You are one of the joys in my life.” I had said.

famous last words.

Now I reach home, walking towards my door in my superpants. Its 2:00 a.m and I still have work to do for class tommorrow. I may not sleep, but I want to escape this mood i’m in, and awaken, a different person, with a different direction.

Posted September 27, 2007 by marcusbird in Uncategorized

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