-Sitting at coffee each morning at different café’s and coffee shops, under the shadow of our nation’s Capital, I suppose it’s not a surprise how many Congressional Aids, Interns, and other government workers I’m able to observe that wander through looking for caffeine to kick start their morning.
When they first arrived for the new session, many of the newbies had looks of determination, joy, and devotion on their faces; as though they had come to D.C. to change the world for the better. As the session wore on, their steely faces of resolve slowly dissolved into red-eyed hangovers from late nights combing over papers their bosses were far too busy (i.e. lazy) to read, and from weekend benders they increasingly found helped with the overwhelming sense of nausea that the city of Washington stirs in the stomachs of those who came here with a sense of morality and ethics, only to find there is little place for such lofty ideals in this abyss.
Early last year I had a steady count going on about how many senators, congressmen, aids, interns, etc. who had sat at my table and talked about life and whatnot, sometime late last year the numbers began stacking so high I lost track. Perhaps it was a combination of too much caffeine mixed with one too many vodka tonics at various D.C. gatherings I’ve been invited to, and anyone who knows me, knows I’m not much of a drinker and alcohol never sits well with me. Unfortunately for me, when you’re wearing a Tux, one size two small cuz you bought it a couple years ago for a gala you ended up never attending, and now you’re a few pounds heavier sitting across from a dude (or dudette) who is third or fourth in line for the presidency, refusing alcohol at the event tends to make you stick out like a sore thumb, so I’ve found myself drinking way more often than my own liking the last two years.
My whole M.O. is to NOT stick out like a sore thumb, preferring the idea of blending in with the wallpaper, thus, sloshing back a few alcoholic drinks too many has been the price I’ve had to pay to journey through the inside of this beast we call Washington, D.C., thankfully, some of the bartenders are return employees for certain house parties, and two of them in particular I became acquaintances with via coffee house conversations, and so they know to secretly mix me virgin drinks, but to declare (if any prying ears are around) the misnomer that they have made me yet another vodka or whisky or whatever.
It was through this slight manipulation of virgin drinks, that I had the opportunity to stay sober amidst a particularly enlightening night when a congressional aid of a popular female congresswoman from California got entirely plastered and I was able to play prince charming as she lay in a back bedroom about to do something she was surely going to regret with a married man, a man she especially loathed as he was with political party she worked day and night to oppose.
Most of these absurd parties are overflowing with everyday lobbyists; men and women whose egos far surpass their actual importance to anything, but once in awhile certain senators or congressmen will show up and make an appearance for whatever devilish reason. This congressional aid apparently has a well-known convention of overdrinking, and her first year in D.C. the sexual harassment fund had to be dipped into when she ended up with a senior aid of a dude from out West; the dude said it was consensual, but its difficult to tell when everyone is inebriated. Even though I worked in politics many years ago, I never worked in D.C., so I was about as surprised as a hillbilly from Kentucky to learn that the Democrats and Republicans have a fund that they syphon taxpayer money into to pay out any sexual harassment claims as a way of keeping the news out of the public.
At any rate, it took a little bit of maneuvering on my part, because I didn’t want the dude to know I was responsible for screwing up his sure thing, so after getting him out of the room by way of a different person, I quietly went into the bedroom, helped the young woman to her feet, and half-carried her out the back door of the place. Like I said, it helps that I became good friends with a couple of the bartenders that officiate over these soirees, otherwise I wouldn’t know the back door from the front door as the event halls, private residences, and other buildings are far too grandiose for a kid from Chicago to navigate.
As I got her into an uber and took her home, I couldn’t help but think that I was living out some episode of House of Cards, and I had to chuckle, wondering if the dude whose sure thing I had whisked away was as evil as Frank Underwood, if he was, then surely there would be hell to pay if he figured out I had a hand in this 1am cloak and dagger.
It wasn’t until the next day and the female intern texted me her eternal gratitude that I decided it was worth to risk to ‘do the right thing’. Sadly, doing the right thing in D.C. can get you kicked out, beat up, whipped, killed, or all of the above, and after two years I’m still new to this game being played out in our Nation’s capital.
Since they still don’t seem to know I’m merely some dude who enjoys a good cup of coffee, I guess I’m still winning,
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning,
Categories: Culture & Society