Saturday, October 6, 2007

The DC cocktail party - a primer of sorts


DC's a terrible place for the apathetic... A lonely town for pragmatists, which is odd, since it only operates as it should when mired in absolute paralytic gridlock. (I.E. Beltway rush hour) Washington seems to be filled with "soft protesters" - people whose personalities' only weight is their current zeal for some position or issue that dominates everything they say.
That's hardly surprising. DC is a stop-off city, a fifth year in college with a paycheck and a McJob. People work for nickels on the Hill or in some quasi-governmental organization for a time and, when their friends start moving and they decide they need to get paid for real, leave. Which kind of explains why the people you talk to at parties there know so much.
I've never known how to handle protesting or zealous types. They seem to get a lot more out of whatever "movement" they're flogging than the movement gets from them.
The ones I meet in DC are perfect Left Wing bookends to the warped fundamentalists they rip as soul-less mud people over crudites.
Maybe even less credible are the soft protesters who are incapable of uttering anything outside the parameters of what their college ethics professor preached.

For a southern boy it's hard as hell to get a good drunk going in the company of people talking "rights" and "inequity" and "policy change."

So it was one interesting night in Rogaine Circle- sorry- Logan Circle- A party was being given at 7 pm by a couple of dear friends whom shall remain nameless for sake of propriety-

I thought the party should be in high gear when we arrived- so I calculated the effects of cocktails per quarter hour, and the fact it was a weekend and decided we should arrive at 10 pm, enough time to let the other guest marinate enough to be somewhat interesting.
My beloved Monsieur Moose didn't see it that way. We showed up at 9:00, carrying cheese, a fabulous Chilean red wine and I, the frozen handle of Jim Beam.

We kind of let ourselves in and wandered through the swankienda looking for familiar faces-or perhaps art or objet we could make fun of at a later time -So the former being a bust, we staked out seats in the garden area at the back of the house. I sneaked back to the kitchen and rifled around until I found a couple of acceptable high ball glasses- (Baccarat "Harmony" pattern- imagine- so 80's) to start a proper "club de bourbon." Our hostess and I made brief eye contact as I was pushing through the crush of bodies in the middle room. Neither of us acknowledged the other by name, though she did give me a withering "where did you find the good glasses" look.
I brought the glasses back to the garden. We started into the bottle with our usual joie de vivre.

Five or six slugs in, Our hostess cut loose from a conversation nearby and asked us what we were doing. "I see you're being very social."
"We're not allowed to socialize, are we?" I laughed.
"You're so funny, people are wondering if you two are the bouncers."
I countered, "Do you Really want us to mingle? It IS a full moon you know." she just smiled and walked into a conversation behind her.
I followed suit, meandering through the crowd, looking for an interesting discussion.
A lot of the party goers wore clever-clever thick black glasses, the sort architects and interior designers favor. They leaned on the furniture and pursed their lips between exclamations.
"The rejection of a children's health plan was a terrible blow, but we soldier on..."
"I think we're making real headway on the bill. It's tough, though. It's an issue of illegal worker empowerment, and I... I think that resonates. We've all worked, you know?"
"I'm really excited by the Senator's initiative. Solid waste is a huge industrial problem. I was walking to dinner at Butterfield 9 and the trash outside, I mean, most of it was just bulk. Boxes. Do we need that much cardboard? You think, 'how much of the Rain forest is in there?'"

Everyone was trying to seem cutting edge, or what passed for it in think tank and policy wonk circles. Which made them all pretty much indistinguishable from one another. It was the usual fashion show of hipness you'd get in a New York or LA club except nobody was hot or had drugs, ... More a dog and pony show for people with ambitious vocabularies and fiscally unfortunate graduate degrees.
Then it hit me- ohhh dear a white wine crowd... And they all held their drinks the same way - bowl of the glass cupped in the hand, stem dangling between the fingers. If conspicuously sniffing, chopping and tasting a cigar between belts of an overpriced single malt is the cheap signaling of a self-envisioned alpha male, the hand-on-hip, wine-glass-between-the-ring-and-middle-fingers pose is the effete pseudo-intellectuals. It's an adult variety of the "Emo" look, but instead of angst and self mutilation, they offer you cites to last month's Harper's or Atlantic.

I fired back a couple more drinks, to reach the proper cruising altitude for mingling- Finding the perfect target was easy, I sat my sight upon a paunchy middle aged veal calf with a Rolex.
With out warning or proper introduction- I struck like a mongoose. "I have observed Barbara Bush on a few occasions, what a foul mouthed cow... well she is a Texan by osmosis I suppose- all dreadful people the lot of them - but you know, way back when, I actually liked Ross Perot. It was just... I don't know. He was so short. and you know- they always say, the little ones always have something to prove!"
Although you could almost hear crickets due to the sudden silence, I could certainly have used those icy smiles in my rapidly warming drink about then..
As I slithered back to the garden I could sense our hostess was irate that we'd arrived two hours late, but she hid it well. I thought we were invited as a novelty anyway, -being from New Orleans and all- like a survivor from the Titanic or some exotic danseuse from Angkor Wat- or perhaps a two headed calf.

She joined us on the patio with two shiny skinned gentlemen "Hey you guys, Have you met Chad and Marlin?"
"No, nice to meet you."
"They're lobbyists. They do a lot of work on 'alternative issues'." 'Alternative' was drawn out, offered proudly, as though it were exotic, or described something huge and important I knew nothing about. I knew what it meant. And if I didn't know the word, there was no way to mistake it in context. Chad eyed me like a steak and Marlin had Anderson Cooper's hair. Both of which were signs I'd finally stumbled into an interesting conversation.
It's a terrible stereotype, but as most stereotypes are, it's rooted in truth - gay men are usually the funniest people in any party. I've stolen tons of odd cultural references and jokes from them.
It isn't right or wrong and if you do it well it can be damn funny. Gay guys usually have the balls to unload all the nasty, biting observations only women have but are too shit scared from social conditioning to offer.
If you're a guy and homophobic, you're a fool for two simple reasons. First, stealing our jokes will get you laid. Second, try to imagine how much harder it would be to meet women if every gay man suddenly went straight? You think she'd select your gut hanging over the pants, hat wearing, wing-chomping, Budweiser Select swilling, hypnotized-into-a-coma-by-the-television lard ass from the end of the bar if she could grab some dude who cracked her up, loved her shoes and knew how to dance?
And the sad truth is Men's men run thin after a couple hours... Golf, scores, scotch, the stock market and embellished womanizing... It's a limited universe, and most of the dialogue isn't a conversation so much as an exhibitionist rant with a "Now Validate Me" ending. ( I myself try not to, but I find myself doing it on occasion - it seems to be hard wired into the male animal- gay straight or undecided.)

Unfortunately, Our hostess' newly presented gay friends hadn't a stitch of Paul Lynde wit.
They were strident DC queers, relating everything in the world to their sexuality as a political issue and defining characteristic.
"When WE arrived in the district being a gay man in DC used to be awful." Chad offered, "It's just now that things are beginning to change. We had Reagan here, so the 80s were a total loss. Then Clinton- but now we think the Bush years have been a mixed blessing- and you know, all and all, he genuinely likes most gays." (Bush, a mixed blessing?) Marlin chimed in next,
"Oh Yeeess, it's just now that the culture's being mainstreamed, with bars and clubs and places where it's accepted. Everybody had to meet everybody at parties in the old days, if you want to meet anyone of worth now, its mostly at work or the gym- OR (snort) -God forbid- on line. (snort) you must forgive me I have a bit of a sinus thing, I have been chugging Robitussin all afternoon!"
"What do you do handsome?" Chad asked. "We're bouncers," I deadpanned. Just as our hostess was shooting daggers, a twenty something friend of the shiny guys- also a government drone- walked, no- skulked over and joined the group, looking bored and put-upon- -Chad perked up immediately, chirping "Oh! HI Brandon..... you know everyone, yes?" Brandon sighed "Oh...... hi...." with a TV anchors sincerity and sardonic smile - After a few moments he was joined by two other White House minions with the same hair and body fat percentage and I thought OK, maybe now the witty repartee begins! Yes? uh... no... Brandon heard overhead a helicopter and proceed to name the make and government branch it belonged to just by the sound, wait it gets better- then Brandon lit up saying "I'M going to have one of those one day!" only to be countered by another one of his little friends that excitedly remarked "Oh Yea? Well I'M going to have a fighter jet!" The third said he was going to totally ride Air force One. Squeal!!!
(By the way, Brandon's job in Le Maison Blanche is writing the protocol for a possible nuclear strike on the US.)
Brandon then changed the subject to how hard it is to find attractive guys in DC- "I mean they are all either um, old or um, fat, or just, you know, self centered!"

I really needed to snort a bottle of Chanel nail polish about then- (try it, its better than poppers.)
No pop culture references. No pithy quotes. Nothing worth plagiarizing. It wasn't them. It wasn't what they were. It was the town. Unless you're an objective journalist or a cynical lobbyist, it's probably impossible not to wind up self important and humorless about whatever big movement you're involved in hanging around that swamp. Chad wet his lips and looked at me -looked at them and sucked in his gut- and said that that was so funny- that we were just saying the same thing!
My big chance was here at last - dare I? Yes, call me naughty, but having a real mean streak and I could feel the naughty bubble rising like the Sun in the East, so in a fit of inspiration,
I offered levity to break the monotony- I pretended to be straight- (yeah I know- I know- ha ha fuckin ha) I began, "You think its easy meeting women? I wish I were gay. At least you know the playing field. There's always some guy in the bar on on line who wants to fuck. You never know what a woman's agenda is, and most of them don't even know what they want. Plus, nobody ever gets knocked up on your side of the fence. And you never have to put down the toilet seat. It's a win/win."
They looked at me like they had no Idea what I had just said - (kind of like when you talk to your dog and he just tilts his head from side to side)- all then skittered off to talk about twenty something things. Prada maybe.
"Excuse us for a second." Our hostess asked me to accompany her to the kitchen. "What the fuck is the matter with you?" "What? I thought that was a compliment." "That's the problem. Just stay in here and drink."

Just then Chad peered into the kitchen, "Darling we must dash to another quelle soiree, but may we be so brazen as to ask your charming bouncer friends to join us? hmmmmm....?" She barely had a chance to make a snide remark when I said that we would be delighted and air kissed our hostess in passing.

The rest I shall leave up for your imagination I will only say someone had a champagne cork in a very intimate place upon waking the following day.

And now a drink to toast our new friends.
Robitussin!
I'll be damned if it doesn't taste exactly like a great big spoonful of Robitussin! ______________________________________________________________
In a shaker:

3 shots J├Ągermeister

3 shots Cranberry

mix and pour into highball glass (Baccarat "Harmony" pattern)
Toast your favourite log cabin Republican.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

OH GAWD! Sounds like "our little Brickie" is making his mark on DC. I guess he won't be satisfied until he fucks a congressman or has "under the stall" whatever with a senator.

Anonymous said...

If you know Brickie like I do he has probably already fucked some staffer in the Lincoln bedroom

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