Thursday, October 16, 2008

DC in words, part 1

Every five years, G has the opportunity to take a trip to one of his company’s other offices. He gets two plane tickets, a thousand dollars spending cash, AND an extra week of paid vacation. All he has to do is take a brief tour of the company’s building, and once that’s over, the rest of the time is his to spend as he pleases. Sounds like a win-win situation, doesn’t it?


See, as I’ve mentioned before, G HATES to travel. It’s something I had to get used to, but since we visit his family once or twice a year and I don’t mind traveling by myself when I get the urge for someplace exotic, it hasn’t really been an issue. But when I discovered that one of the sister offices was in London, I knew I had to try to change his mind. I wheedled. I nagged. I begged. I bribed. I tried harnessing the power of The Secret. I used arcane Peloponnesian sexual techniques.

No luck.

But then G’s company bought out a business in Washington DC, and suddenly he was interested, because our friends G2 and R live there. It wasn’t London, but it was something.

We flew to DC last Friday, and after an expensive cab ride, we arrived at the Washington Plaza. We checked in and lugged our stuff up to the room. It was kind of a weird room; despite the fact that it was huge, the bathroom and TV were dinky. But it had a gorgeous view, the bed was unbelievably comfortable, and the hotel was located within walking distance of just about everywhere we wanted to visit.

After putting our clothes away and freshening up, we went down to the lobby to meet up with G2. G’s known him since high school, and although I’ve known him a mere fraction of that time, I really like him. He’s the only non-medical doctor I know, and he’s brilliant; he works for the World Bank trying to solve hunger and poverty and other noble things like that.

Anyway, after hugs and hearty backslaps, we walked to a combination bookstore/restaurant called Afterwords for dinner. The weather was absolutely perfect, and I was glad I didn’t bother bringing a heavy jacket. We ate and talked, and then we browsed in the bookstore before heading back to G2’s apartment.

Now, I didn’t know this about DC, but it’s about as easy to get a cab there as it is in Vegas or NYC. Our driver was a chatty black gay guy, and when a bicyclist suddenly swerved out in front of us, he leaned out the window and said, “You can’t be falling asleep while you’re riding a bike!” Then he said to us, “Did you hear what I said to him? I said ‘You can’t be falling asleep while you’re riding a bike!’ Mmmm-hmmm. People don’t pay attention and they get hurt. Mmmmm-hmmmm. Can’t fall asleep on no bike.”

To my delight, G2 had a Wii, which I’d never played before. He showed us Wii Fit and Rayman Raving Rabbids, and after we’d played for a couple of hours, we were starting to droop on the vine. He walked us outside and hailed a cab, and sadly that was the last we saw of him during our trip because he was leaving for Asia the next day.

On Friday morning, we slept in late, and when I sat up, I winced and said, “Ow!”

“What’s wrong?”

“My arm frickin’ hurts.”

G nodded knowingly. “Wii elbow.”


“Yep, it happened to J [his brother-in-law] the first time he played. It’ll go away on its own.”

We brushed our teeth and then hopped in the shower. Ahhh…bliss. It was so relaxing, in fact, that I ripped a huge fart.

“Hey!” G chided. “My people have a complex about being gassed in showers, you know.”

I laughed so hard I had to grab onto the soap dish for support.

After breakfast in the hotel restaurant, we took a cab to the sister office. I wasn’t too thrilled about spending part of a beautiful fall afternoon in an office building, but the people were nice and it didn’t take long. Besides, 45 minutes of my time was well worth a free vacation! Afterwards, we walked to the White House, which seemed so small in person that G took a twenty out of his pocket and checked the picture on back. Apparently they usually show the back on TV and in movies instead, since it looks bigger and fancier. I noticed snipers on the roof, which awakened a deep longing in me to play Resident Evil 4.

Next, we went to a couple of the museums affiliated with the Smithsonian. Unfortunately, the one we were most interested in was closed for renovations, but we still saw some cool stuff. One highlight was the Lino Tagliapietra exhibit at the Renwick Gallery. This guy does the most amazing stuff with glass, and G and I were seriously blown away. You can see some of his work here, although---at the risk of sounding like a total art nerd---you really need to see his stuff in person to fully grasp its beauty.

Next, we met up with R, who has a gloriously smutty sense of humor, and her friend. We went to Co Co Sala, a seriously trendy place known for its decadent desserts and its teeny-tiny portions. This is brilliant marketing on their part, because you need to order at least three entrees to have a full-sized meal. I wanted to save room for dessert, of course, so I only got two entrees, the bacon mac and cheese and the “childhood cheese plate”, which was an eensy grilled cheese sandwich and a tiny bowl of tomato soup. The mac and cheese and the sandwich were both good, but oh my god! The tomato soup was fucking FABULOUS.

(And if you’re stunned that I liked a bowl of tomato soup more than bacon mac and cheese and a grilled cheese sandwich, imagine how I felt.)

I primed my sweet tooth with a malted milk martini, and then I ordered the Xocolatyl dessert course. It began with hot, whisper-thin churros dusted in cinnamon and sugar and accompanied by dulce de leche dip. I was nice enough to let G have one, but I regretted my largesse when I discovered how delicious they were.

Next came a shot glass of Kahlua, a chipotle chocolate square, a bowl of espresso sorbet, and the fiery chocolate soufflé. The piece of chocolate and the sorbet were just okay, but the soufflé made me reconsider my agnosticism. It had one hell of a kick to it, and I was grateful for the soothing glass of Kahlua. Finally, I had a glass of chocolate-infused horchata and a Mexican wedding cookie, and R gave me her malted shooter, which was so good I wanted to break the glass and lick the pieces.

With bellies full and wallets empty, we took a bus to R’s friend’s apartment and sat on the roof, talking and enjoying the gorgeous view. When it got too chilly, we went inside and played Scrabble. R plays competitively, so G and I had a tough fight ahead of us, but we didn’t lose by an embarrassing margin. It was pretty late by the time we finished, so they walked us out to the curb and we took a cab back to the hotel.

(to be continued)