It’s a Tuesday night in Washington, DC. My friends and I meet for dinner at an overrated, upscale taco restaurant. I ate a sandwich at home, so I order a margarita and ceviche, both of which are rather bland. Then we head to the Black Cat to see a couple of those former punk band front men turned folk singers. They really enjoy the first one, but get tired and leave about halfway through the second.
At this point, I move to the back of the room and run into some other people I know. I hang with them for a while, but I’ve always had a somewhat awkward relationship with them, never really becoming friends, but more like someone I constantly run into at shows. I don’t know what it is that I can’t fully break into that circle. Maybe they think I’m odd for being 35 and divorced. Or maybe it’s something else. In any case, I can never shake the insecurity that comes with that stigma.
Anyway, the show ends, so I excuse myself with a, “it was good to see you guys” and I move downstairs to the bar.
It’s still Tuesday night, about 11:15. I take a seat at the corner of the bar and order a can of PBR. The bartender, a drummer from a prominent indie band that is playing Coachella this Spring, hands me one and we chat a bit about life in our mid-thirties, and our favorite places in England.
Around the corner of the bar, a pretty blond-haired, tattooed girl is talking to a man in an orange sweater. At first, it’s a mundane conversation about how she ditched her date and he ditched his. Maybe they’re bonding over that. Suddenly he’s talking about his thing for feet. She locks eyes with me over his shoulder and I mouth “what the fuck?” He asks her what she has a thing for, and she awkwardly stammers “travel?”
He replies rather rudely that travel is boring, and he excuses himself to the restroom, leaving about half a glass of beer. She motions for me to take over his stool, so I do, swapping the places of our beers. “Save me from this asshole” she commands.
We have a conversation about how strange people are in this city. Who the fuck comes right out and says that to someone they just met? The man returns, gets the signal, finishes his beer, and departs, without even saying goodbye.
At about 1:30 in the morning, we leave the bar together and go to a falafel shop, where I introduce her to the wonder that is the falafel bowl. She is in awe of it, of me. I am in awe of her. She is a hair and makeup artist, has recently been to Thailand, and lives in Maryland. I tell her about my recent trip to Dallas and my upcoming travels to South America.
At the end of our late-night meal, she offers me her phone number. We go our separate ways, and I text her, with a joke about orange sweaters licking her feet. She responds positively and says she’d like to see me again.
But, I never see her again. I leave for South America only a few weeks later, then resettle in Virginia when I return. I’ve all but forgotten what she looks like save for the blond hair and tattoos.
Only one question remains from that night: who tells someone about their foot fetish at the bar of the Black Cat at 11:45 at night on a Tuesday?