Tuesday, May 31, 2005

People on the Bus Don't Washington

I decided to take a "minibreak" this Memorial Day weekend, and head down to Washington D.C. to visit my friend Carolyn and explore the city a little. My previous jaunts to D.C. were quite short and usually "chaperoned", hence I'd never really taken part in the nightlife scene at all. And why get wasted in New York, when a whole new urban fiesta awaits you?

Now, due to financial considerations beyond my control, I had no choice but to take the BUS down to DC. It wouldn't be my first time riding Greyhound -- a trip to Boston a few years back wasn't bad at all, although I did have a friend along for the ride. Now, my only friend would be an overpriced hummus wrap and a good book. Port Authority was packed as I had expected. This wouldn't be like riding the bus on a high school field trip, where you were guaranteed two seats and could curl up with a sweatshirt and nap. No, I was guaranteed a seatmate. I sized up the line for who look relatively bathed, thin and quiet. Skinny and quiet. Those were two musts. Thankfully, half of the bus was made up of Eastern Europeans, whom, while skinny and poorly attired, didn't really meet the bathing standard. (Relax! I'm Hungarian and poorly bathed.) A nice couple behind me suggested I sit right up front, which I did, next to a nice enough woman who kept to herself as did I. When we both pulled out our Ipods at the same time and gave each other knowing smiles, I knew this was a temporary seat-mate match made in Heaven.

No, my problems didn't begin until I got to D.C. Saturday evening. Dazed, walking around their sketchy bus depot, a man devoid of any teeth and in a filthy baseball cap asked if I wanted a taxi. I did, and while in New York I normally tell those unmetered taxi people to go to hell, here I just nodded and shuffled along behind him. He rounded up another woman, funny enough my seatmate from the bus, to join in. As we walked outside, I noticed that his "cab" was in fact a 1972 wood-panelled station wagon, and inside it was a "huge brown dog". "Is that your dog?" "Yeah." "Oh, I'm not riding in your car with that dog." Here I would put my foot down. As he drove away, he yelled out his window "Well the dog's allergic to you, too!" Good one, I thought. Then I saw my ex-seatmate laugh it up in the front. I thought we were friends?

Before I could realize that I was abandoned at the bus station, a small ball-busting woman named "Pat" swooped in, practically pushing me into her Kia which would take me to my destination. Only after the engine started did I realize that I was in a strange woman's car (not a real taxi), with all my money and personals, being driven to a place I'd never been. I called my friend and tried to mask my voice, which would have said "Hey! I'm about to be murdered and left in a ditch! Did you say right on U street or left?" but instead was like "Hi! I'm in a car with Pat! It's a 1999 blue Kia -- and a beautiful one! Carolyn, Pat's hair and outfit would look perfect on you -- short black hair and a blue suit!" Pat, meanwhile, regaled me with stories of how she ended up driving the "taxi", after being fired from her job at the Post, and hating everyone and everything. Maybe I haven't said it yet, but Pat was literally a crazy face. When she finally dropped me off, I added a $2 "Thanks for not maiming me" fee to her fare. It ended up costing me twice as much as a normal cab, but hey, I was LOVING LIFE!

Carolyn's house is beautiful. It was a gorgeous night, consisting of a delicious dinner at a packed restaurant, seeing some old friends, drinking -- a lot of fun.

Breakfast Lunch and Chicken.

Sunday was sightseeing day. The funny thing about D.C. was that, even on Memorial Day, the streets were EMPTY. Like, not a single human being ANYWHERE. I thought I was in motherfuckin 28 Days Later or some shit. It wasn't until we got to Georgetown, to a cute shopping street, very Faux Americana, that was bustling with well-to-do Prepsters. Sure enough, within 5 minutes of arriving, I made my presence known by tripping on a trickily shaped curb and skinning my knee, something I haven't done since I was 5. In my defense, my fall was quite graceful.

Georgetown with a Menacing Chance of Showers

Me being artsy.

Carolyn after learning that Paul Reiser is not, in fact, one of her two dads.

Also, Starbucks is now serving Scat.

From there, onto the historic sites!! First stop, The White House. Now, I consider myself Patriotic to a degree. But for some reason, seeing the White House didn't fill me with the same kind of awe as when I see, for example, Buckingham Palace.

While approaching the black iron gates, I notice two men are taking a photograph together, and that there's a bit of a commotion. Lots of handshaking and thank you's are exchanged. Now, as my friend Carolyn will tell it, one of the men was a nice looking black gentlemen in a plain looking t-shirt and jeans. The other man, also black, was drop-dead gorgeous: bald-headed, in a white linen tunic with expensive jeans, and wrap around Armani sunglasses. I hear two little girls of the more moderately dressed fellow yelling "I'm his niece!" "I'm his daughter!" So, understandably, I assume that the plainer guy has to be somebody - Why would the niece of a nobody call attention to herself?? (p.s. The girl was about 5 years old.)

So, very slyly, as I do, I walk over to the beautifully dressed, gorgeous bald guy, in his $500 shades and Gucci tunic, walking with an entourage of about, oh, I don't know, say 28 of his closest friends and family, touch his arm (eek! rock solid!) and say, all conspiratorially, "Hey... who was that guy??"

He looked at me like I was 1. Fucking crazy; 2. The whitest person he'd ever seen; 3. Certifiably insane.

After a considerable pause (no doubt, of shock), he responds "Well, I don't know who he is..." he trailed off. "He wanted a picture with me."

"Oh!! That's nice!" I smile like a loser. "Who are you?"

Pause for manhood being hurt. "Uh.. I'm an actor. I'm on a show called 'The Wire'." I have never seen The Wire, but scraped up some facts from the endless HBO promos.

"Get out!! The Wire! I love that show. What's the name of the guy on that show? The gorgeous British guy... West?" I knew the name, but was making small talk. Pause for some vinegar and water to dribble down my chin (douchebag.)

"Dominique West."

"Yes! That's it! Dominique! Haha -- You're probably like 'Who? Dommy? Dom-Dom?'" Me looking at you, reader, shaking my head in utter disbelief and shame. Dom-Dom?!?!

He starts walking away.

"Wait! Lemme get a picture with ya! Haha -- I'm kidding. Nice meeting you!"

No response.

I look at a well-dressed woman at the tail end of the entourage.

"Thanks again." I squeaked.

"Bye." Somewhere between polite and disgusted.

I look for my friend. She is huddled with 25 other tourists, covering her face and laughing her ass off. She said it was like watching a car accident in slow motion -- that I manage to find the one "celebrity" in D.C. and embarass him.

Turns out, I had met Idris Elba. The good news is, I seriously had never seen him in anything. So, there you have it.

Able was I, ere I met Elba.

We followed up our "celeb" encounter with a walk to the Monument and down to Congress. Then more dinner, more drinks.

Pause to reflect on our government.

And, yeeeeees, the reflecting pond is still populated by fetus-sucking demon ducks.

A poster on Capitol Hill advertising a new game for kids -- kinda like "Where's Waldo" but with more pain and suffering.

Monday was a treat -- the National Gallery in D.C., one of the most beautiful museums around, is having a Toulouse-Lautrec and Montmarte exhibit, with basically every famous Lautrec work around, and some Picasso's and Van Gogh's thrown in for good measure. At times, I felt like I was walking around a college dormitory poster shop.

My new favorite Museum, or as the Hungarians say, "Moo-ZAY-oh."

Camman - you know you want to see it.... what have you got (pause for suicide) Toulouse??

Carolyn went wine-tasting, and her friend Joaquin was kind enough to drive me to the bus stop, saving me one bout of heart palpitations. Once at the station, the lines were insane. I got to the back of an extreeeeeeemely long line of people waiting to be bussed to New York, and began chatting with two guys behind me, James and Ralph. An adorable gay couple, we of course hit it off immediately. We spent the next hour or so asking ourselved WHY we took the bus, pointing out all the maniacs around us, sharing horror stories, cursing ourselved, and talking about reality television. I loved these guys, I really did. Following an uneventful ride back to the city, we exchanged hugs and kisses, and they even took my number. Who knew I would make friends on the Greyhound bus?

So a thank you to Carolyn for the lovely stay, and all of her friends, Jaime, Joaquin, Lorraine, for making me feel so welcome. This morning, I was manhandled on the subway. Glad to be back, New York.

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