My bloggin’ buddy Angie of Childhood Relived is coming to DC next month, and we are going to get together for lunch! I’m so excited – she will be the first blogging buddy I’ll get to meet. The thing is, though, that I just can’t decide where to take her for our rendezvous.
Angie, as you may know, writes extensively about her childhood in the 1980s. She remembers everything that happened during that decade. Angie has a photographic memory for every single TV show and every bit of food she consumed during that decade. It’s awesome. Or terrifying. Or both. And while I was not a child in the 1980s, her posts always make me nostalgic for that time in my life. Back when I was young, single, sick and poor. Ah yes, the 1980s.
I am pretty sure that Angie is (1) Superhuman; (2) will remember each and every detail about the restaurant I choose; and (3) remember every single fact I tell her about Washington, DC, whether it is in fact, fact or not. I can’t believe I even agreed to meet her. Can’t I be out of town that day?
Oh, yeah. I will be out of town that day. Out of my town. You see, I hardly ever go into DC any more. I work across the river in Virginia; I live in the Virginia sticks with the deer. In fact, I do everything south of our nation’s Capitol, you know, where the Rebs lived (and seceded). (We will not comment on how a nice Connecticut Yankee like me ended up here. Please. It’s painful.)
The tour I can handle. Buildings are buildings and Angie won’t know if I’m right or wrong when I tell her which is which. The hard part is deciding where to have lunch. It used to be that this wouldn’t have been a problem. Yup, I used to really know the city. I lived in DC; I worked downtown. I hung out on Capitol Hill. In fact, I used to work really close to the hotel where Angie is staying. But my familiarity with DC restaurants is current only up to 1989, when I moved away.
So rather than sweating it, I decided to give Angie a 1980s tour of Washington! That’s the Washington I know. Knew. Whatever. Wouldn’t that be appropriate? I’ll start with a 1980s restaurant! I figured I’d see which of my favorite restaurants of the 1980s were still open and take her to one of them. Brilliant, right? Because after all, a trip to our nation’s capital requires a bit of history. For US history, well, Angie’s on her own. I’m going to give her some of my history. Yes Angie, I am going to treat you to a dose of “This is Your Life,” DC Restaurant version.
Of course, there aren’t too many of my favorites left. In fact, there are only three. Which do you think she’d like best?
Health Hazard of Hunan: This restaurant is where I learned to eat interesting spicy foods. I went there all the time. Whenever we worked late at the office our clients would buy us wonderful Chinese food from Hunan. Better still, one night I organized an incredibly fun birthday dinner there for a friend. A total of about 20 of us had a wonderful meal, where the staff gave us tastes of everything on the menu. Exotic, delicious Chinese delicacies. The next day the restaurant was closed for health violations. Don’t worry though, Angie. It’s back in business.
Rumors: Rumors was a meat-market when I was still single, a place to go to pick up men/women for one night stands. That’s not why I went, actually, because I never was that kind of girl. Besides, at the time I was attached. But it had great food and a different ambiance at lunch time. It’s not at all far from where Angie and I are meeting.
The last time I went to Rumors was at nighttime, though, when the meat-market was in full swing. At the time I was dating Erik, who at the time (1980), I fully expected to marry, and he and I were there with some friends. That night began the process that led me to a much better mate. That’s because Erik excused himself to go to the restroom and came back quite quickly looking rather confused. He couldn’t figure out which bathroom to use. “Ummm, Elyse?” he asked quietly. “Am I a ‘tweeter’ or a ‘woofer’?” I decided that perhaps I wanted more of a woofer in my life.
The Sex Change: Actually, the restaurant is called “The Exchange” – but our name was much more fun. I worked in an office upstairs from the Sex Change. We actually had a convenient back door into the place that we used when we were supposed to be working. My friends and I spent many, many lunch times, work afternoons and evenings there. The Sex Change is possibly the first place where I was ever publicly drunk, although I don’t really remember.
The Sex Change was actually the site of my first foray into public storytelling. Yes, it was at the Sex Change one winter night, where I stood on a table in the most crowded part of the bar, my third or fourth or fifth beer of the evening in hand. I told the world of my most shameful, completely embarrassing, life changing childhood trauma. I stood on a table and told how I ruined my life in 2nd Grade by wetting my pants during Show & Tell, one week after moving to a new town. It was the story I had never admitted had happened. Not to anyone. It was the story I feared would one day come out when someone from my past appeared unexpectedly and let it slip. And the bar patrons loved it, and me for telling it. They were there with me, in 2nd Grade. Of course, they were drunk too.
In fact, it was this story that brought Angie and I together, because it was the heart of the comment I left Angie about a year ago when she wrote this post about embarrassing childhood birthday parties. The full story, including my revenge on the kid who bullied me in grammar school, is here. Because there is a god.
So as you can see, it’s a tough choice. Food poisoning, sexual confusion, or humiliation. I think that sums up my life pretty nicely. Which would you choose?
And after lunch, I’ll take her on a driving tour. I’ll drive her past the White House and we will wave (or gesture in an altogether different manner) to Ron and Nancy. We’ll drive up to Capitol Hill walk right in to her Congressman and Senators’ offices. We’ll climb to the top of the Washington Monument, get into the museums without waiting through endless security lines.
Yup, a 1980s tour of Washington sounds like just the ticket. But maybe we should just grab a hot dog.