daily preciousness

Monday, April 26, 2004

beltway day

It was a beltway kind of day for me.

I woke at the crack of 10, grabbed a spinach and cheddar cheese bagel, then motored off to Adam's headquarters. (Adam is running for the House of Delegates in Richmond. I volunteer for him 2-3 hours a week. I get paid in civic pride... if he wins.)

I arrived to find research to be done, cokes to be consumed, data to be processed, faxes to be sent and all manner of good gossip to share.

Adam was in great spirits, not any the worse for wear after several days of campaigning around the various precincts and neighborhoods of his 49th district. Calls came in. Calls went out. I ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I prepared one for the candidate. Before long, it was four.

I rushed home, which took more than half an hour because of blindingly slow traffic -- I-95 was a parking lot. I tried not to stress, but I caved into the pressure of moving sooooooooooo slooooooooooowly.

Once home, I had to rest my eyes for a few minutes. Michi, the roommate's cat, curled up in a fluffy warm ball and purred me to sleep. With his milky eye and clumsy habits, he's an endearing cat. (Any cat that rubs up against my leg so affectionately that he trips and falls, embarrasses himself completely, then starts rubbing up against me again, that's a cat that I can love.) He helped soothe the headache that the traffic gave me. Sitting there with him, I briefly experienced the quiet, calming purr of his breathing. It's very meditative.

So after a half hour's nap, I shower and shave, primp and prune. I'm so clean that I squeak. Then, I dollop on the goopy hair gel. It makes a sound like *sploink* as I finger it into my hair. Then, I slap on the clothes. It doesn't take long, except for the little easy-to-lose/easy-to-drop/difficult-to-affix buttony things. They're killer. I feel like I have the dexterity of a drunken stroke victim when I try to put those suckers on. The tie and cummerbund are no problem. They're nearly fool-proof. But the little buttons and cufflinks are designed to be difficult -- of that I'm certain.

Henry calls to say that he's rounded the corner and comin' for to get me. As usual, I'm not quite dressed. But this time it's because I've simply given up trying to put on the cufflinks. They're obviously the work of the devil. Or the squirrels. *reflective pause*

Yep, definitely the squirrels. /personal aside/: Have you noticed how 20-somethings rarely answer with a simple "yes" anymore? They're much more likely to answer "definitely." It gives their speech a vague sort of junior car salesman quality, don't you think? :/end personal aside/

So anywho, I'm nearly over my headache when I crawl into Henry's batmobile and I tell him that I'm sorry, but I'm in head trauma mode because of the headache. And he's the ultimate gentleman, offering to pull in somewhere on the way to get me some drugs. He's a great supplier! He stops and gets me the meds. I'm feeling like such the geritol moment when he jumps into the car, carrying the much-needed bottled water and Tylenol caplets (which are actually coated to protect my stomach -- nice touch, Hen!).

Before long, we arrive at the Arts Club and he lands a killer parking spot just around the corner.

The new president is hovering in the reception area. It's the same friendly guy with whom I've chatted on at least three or four previous engagements.

Very friendly folks. His wife has that "I'm in a pitiful, loveless marriage but I'm loving the financial and/or oligarchical benefits therein" sort of look. (I call it the "Hillary-ous" look and there sure is a lot of it in DC.)

Henry charms the room, as usual. He manages a handy trick, especially considering the black tie rule that's on tonight. (You know the old party trick of having something just a little bit unique about your clothing or accessories? [No, I didn't think you would. {But now you do.}]) With the handy conversation-starter trick, he wore a nifty collar that made him look like a priest -- a flashy, high-stylin' gay pimp of a priest -- and everybody loved it. They just ate it up. He looked so sharp. I know that I wasn't the only one who wanted to "go to confession" with him. I recall a handsome young copy editor/designer from USA TODAY wanted to do some pre-emptive confessing with him. (Does that even work? I thought you had to be bad FIRST, then confess. But what do I know?)

Hen was stylin' and getting plenty of attention from everyone there. I enjoyed watching him. Meanwhile, I was meeting friendly folks, including Carolyn, a fine arts instructor from U of Maryland. We bonded over having both lived in the Bohemian Rhapsody that *is* Takoma Park.

Good times.

I also chatted with Moostafah. He was from Turkey and had the look of a silent film star from the way back ages -- dark and brooding. Sultry. He should've been wearing a turban and robes. We discussed important academic subjects: Turkish archeology and Brittany Spears.

Henry re-introduced me to some of his friends and acquaintances. One of them told me in gushing terms the schedule of an up-coming soiree at the Kennedy Center: the Helen Hayes Awards for local drama. It sounded like a fun event. And the friendly journalist, Mike, said he'd be there with his friend, Allison, who was a dead-ringer for Jesse Norman, the opera star.

Dinner was simple but elegant. The food has always been excellent there, each time that I've been. I got to sit by Henry (which is nice, because sometimes I'm forced to sit next to a total stranger... of course, the total stranger doesn't stay totally strange for long... and pretty soon I realize that they're fascinating and I have a great deal to learn from them.)

But as I was saying, I was happy that I got to sit right next to Henry that evening. We were there with Henry and his friend Steve, a very forthright and quirky proto-senior citizen, sat there, too. Steve is always entertaining -- very quick on the draw, especially for his age.

The camaraderie was good. Henry was in a fun mood and it was fun to watch him.

But all of the flim-flam fun would soon end.