Black Jack and the Pearl Dive

Or, Why the bar scene is not our scene.
Or, Where are your manners, people?

On Saturday night the husband and I went out to meet some back-home political friends who were in town for the weekend and to catch up with a few of the husband’s coworkers who had an evening out planned at this particular establishment.

Our plan was to meet our back-home friends around 8:30, join up with the husband’s coworkers when they arrived at 9:30, and be home by 11. We drove.

14th St. NW is a popular strip but the nearest Metro stations are some blocks away so we felt that driving ourselves and paying to park would be the best option. It was not. Although drive time from our street to Black Jack and the Pearl Dive was seven minutes, we spent an hour in the car searching high and low for a place to park that was still within the District. We almost took a chance on a place that had uniformed parking “attendants” but when the man directed us to park behind two BMWs that obviously belonged to residents of the condos above us, and to leave the keys and be back by 2 a.m., we decided it wasn’t worth $16 to be parked shadily in someone else’s private garage with our keys left behind.

At 9:10 and running out of gas in the car, the husband dropped me off at the door to meet our friends who had been comfortably wedged in by the indoor bocce court for about half an hour. Not too long after that, the husband himself appeared, having made a deal with a less shady parking lot much closer to our evening venue.

With four of us now crammed into the amount of personal space comfortably shared by two Americans and shouting at one another to be heard, conversation went easily enough considering all outside factors. When the bocce court opened up, we hustled ourselves into the narrow court for a game, mostly to have breathing room for a few minutes.

As we left the court and the husband reset the scoreboard for the next group, a young man tapped him on the shoulder for attention.

“Are you gay or straight?” he inquired of the husband.

“Straight,” replied the husband, obviously.

“Oh good, because these lovely young ladies would like to meet you,” said the (rude) young man, gesturing to three preening girls who appeared to have left no merchandise whatsoever on the shelves at H&M.

“I’d like them to meet my wife,” said the husband, to the unmitigated shock of all four.

Ahem. Nicely done by the husband, of course, but excuse me? Since when is “are you gay or straight?” the first and an appropriate question to ask of a stranger in a bar? What about “are you here with anyone?” What about, if you’re an interested young lady, approaching a guy on your own instead of sending your front man to check out the situation a la 5th grade? And why would either gay or straight be a fine response to your question but “I’m married” comes out of left field? How about some subtlety, people? How about some art?

Our group of sardines moved then to the other end of the bar where we continued shouted conversations until midnight. By then, having chosen only Pepsi and a piece of pie as my bar fare for the evening, I was more than ready to wander down the street to the little Toyota and coast our way home.

Waiting by the stairs with the back-home friends, we ignored the bouncer telling us we had to move until, at last, the husband appeared. His delay was attributed to another string of foolishly primped women who grabbed his arm and wanted to know “where you’re going so early, handsome.”

What happened to buying someone a drink, eh? And does NO ONE do a ring check anymore??

The bar scene has never been our scene. If we are out and about, the husband and I would much rather be sequestered in a little Irish pub with one or two friends, generally the youngest patrons in the place, enjoying a drink and a sandwich that comes with too many specialty house fries. We have never been part of the see-and-be-seen, come-in-with-friends-leave-with-a-cute-stranger crowd. The thrill of the getting dressed up and seeing where the night and the drink take ya is not a thrill that appeals to us. Well, at least not around others.

Although we had arrived at the bar in cold, clear weather, we exited into a freezing and swirling world of stinging little snows. I was glad–it reminded me of home.


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