1000 words and counting
Thank a special friend for the shot.
But a highlight of the trip was sushi on Saturday. The old crew from high school and college got together for a sushi night downtown. Almost everyone showed up (including the not-so-welcome- -you-are-insane- -lets-get-out-of-here-before-he-sees-us friend). We basically shut down the restaurant thanks to the size of our group. Rolling in with about 20 or so folks can reall screw up things in a sushi shop that can only seat about 40 max. Ususally, these occasions quickly morph into political flame war with only myself left to advocate the conservative (not winger) stance. But this time, we just had a fun, loud, and obnoxious dinner. Who would have thought?
"Brian! Happy Passover!" my friend exclaimed.Ehud was an Israeli immigrant who taught college-level literature and was on well track to hit his mid-thirties before the end of this hellspawn of a pollen season. With a bald head, towering stature and athletic figure, the clean shaven Ehud was the apple of many eyes throughout metro D.C. Especially since his broken English dripped in an eastern European accent, his 'Man of the World' persona was well enforced.
"Shalom," I replied. "Funny to find you here, considering. Shouldn't you be at a Seder or something?"I couldn't place whether the line was sarcastic, a by-product of his obvious inebriation, or an earnest statement from a man in a strange land. Ehud was great at tripping people up like that; nobody knew when he was serious serious.
"Yes, but... well... I haven't been to one in 2 years. Plus, I wasn't really invited to any in the area. So I did the next best thing, the Hunt. I love this place"
"So why aren't you dating anyone these days, Brian?" Ehud barked.Ehud raced toward the bathrooms in the rear and I focused back on my half empty glass of beer. Another buddy by the name of Johnson sat to my left with his new girlfriendish friend (He claimed that they were dating, but she looked less than enthusiastic). Johnson was a light-skinned "brotha" from Ohio who ventured to D.C. to find his fortune in politics. Horn-rimmed glasses and all, Johnson was clearly not one of the thuggish persuasion, if you know what I mean. Hell, his accent reminded me of our old friend Trent. They finished up their conversation and his friend left for the restroom as well. He turned back at me and I nodded slight agreement.
"That's a good question," I responded. It's always fun to skip out on a question you don't want to answer by declaring it to be important or good.
"Brian, I want to teach you something that my older brother taught me years ago," the lecture began. "You've got to get out and go for every girl you see out there. This place... DC... it's amazing. There's always something new around the corner. If something doesn't work out with one, get a beer, sit five minutes, and another girl will come around. It's just the nature of the game."
"You don't say," I questioned.
"Oh yeah. I swear to it."
"Okay... but doesn't approaching every girl at a bar scream desperation? I mean, c'mon now."
"Hey, if you try with 10 different girls, and you hit it off with only one... That's still 100% success!"
"100% success. Umm... Well then."
"That's right." Ehud replied "Hey listen, I've got to hit the can. There's also a set of cute girls in the back. I'll be back in 10 mins or so."
"Go for it, man."
"Man, I haven't seen you in a long time man. How are you doing, Brian?"Queue Social Commentary in 3... 2... 1.
"I can't complain." I said dryly. The cliché was complete.
"Listen, why haven't you called me man? We should be hanging out more."
"That's true, but I don't have your number and you could have called me too," I parried.
"Yeah, that's true. Well, I call you soon, man. It's like, it's tough hanging out in this city because you either have to hang with all these preppy folks or, well... you know what I mean."
"Yeah, I gotcha." I quickly responded. I had a feeling where he was going, but I didn't really want him to say it. He did it anyways...
"It's like, there's tons of black folks out here, but not really much to hang out with."
I nodded again, hoping to avoid the race analysis... He continued anyways.
"I mean, you seem like a pretty intelligent guy. It's tough to find smart brothers out here in these cities. You only get to deal with folks who just, umm... don't get it." He explained. "We need to stick together"
"I hear ya." I replied while quickly taking another drink. Sometimes, you can't drink this stuff fast enough.
There's one thing worse than racism... and that's racism directed at your own race. Believe it or not, but some of us black folks are the most racist bigots out there. Take any elderly black person from the south and you're bound to find someone hardened by decades of inequality and injustice. Ironically, some of that racial mistrust is directed back on members of his own race. Funny thing is, however racist you are, it doesn't count when you're black. You can say the most offensive things, and you always have that 'get-out-of-jail-free' card. "Brian can't be racist... he's black."... End of Social Commentary.
"I've gotta run man. We'll hang out soon, Yes?"He helped her put on her coat and they ventured out into the drizzle.
"Sure thing, mate." I replied.
"Why don't you talk with them?" I asked.Sermon #3: Never buy the drinks
"Nah, not the right time."
"C'mon, go over there, get them a drink, and talk with them." I pressed.
"Listen Brian, I don't know how you operate or whatever, but you never buy a girl a drink at a bar. NEVER."He saw through my disbelief (Funny how a beer can take away a bit of your social tact). As our conversation ended, one of the girls said her goodbyes to her friend and left the bar. Only the original girl remained and she looked like she was staying for a while.
"Of course man. That's a one way ticket to nowhere. They immediately see through that. It's like, you'll be more effective just walking up and saying 'I want to get in your pants, pleeaaassee!"
"Well, yeah. I hear ya. But at the same time, what if you simply want to buy her a drink? I mean, you can buy a drink just to be kind, right? And what if you've been talking for a while already?" I questioned.
"Wrong. You're automatically on the wrong footing if you start out footing a bill for a drink. In fact, I say never buy them a drink. If they're in to you, it shouldn't matter."
"What about a dinner out?"
"Same thing," Jerry stabbed.
"Alright now, let me show you how this works." Jerry announced.Prancing out of his stool, Jerry set his sights on the target of the evening. He made his through the loud bar and sat next to her. He babbled something to get her attention. She replied with a look of confusion over her face. He said something else while inching his stool over her way. The lack of interest was painfully written across her face. Jerry continued.
"Any words of wisdom out of you?" I quizzed.The benediction was complete. I nodded slightly and tipped him generously. The guys were all out talking to different girls and all was well. I waved goodbye to Jerry and skipped outside. In the taxi home, I said a prayer to the real God to keep the mates safe. Call it, the Bartender's Prayer.
Bending over slightly, he whispered in a British accent "I know they're all over the place, but you've got a good set of mates out here. Treat 'em well. Karma's a bitch, innit?"