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.


Since when is looking at beautiful things a waste of time?

See? Beauty. (Photo credit:, lifted off Pinterest)

Does anyone else behold the irony in a Facebook status that announces, for all of one’s 857 “friends” to read: “Wasting sooooooo much time on FB today!”? Thank you, and now you have wasted mine, too.

Facebook can easily be a waste of time, especially when the hours on it are spent looking at vacation pictures from people you didn’t like then and certainly wouldn’t talk to now. Studies show that a person can maintain only 150 real relationships at a time, and that when someone’s “friends” reach the four-digit mark, that person tends to suffer from a lack of meaningful relationships in real life. So say the experts.

In my opinion, Facebook had a purpose–to reconnect with old friends and far-away family–but it has lost some of that purpose since kids and grandparents of all ages can join. Now you have to worry about saying “hell” in a status because who knows which young cousin or prim granny will see that and call you out on it? Ugh. Just not something most people need. Thankfully, participation in Facebook is voluntary and free, so we’re all free to leave and pocket the time saved.

On our family walk last night, the husband pointed out that with the advent of the camera phone and the proliferation of social media outlets, people can post any picture at any time and the days of seeing, say, someone’s children at their best–captured in a wallet-sized photo until the next time family portraits or the following year’s 4th of July photo shoot–are gone. Now we are all subjected to Junior with chewed peas on his face, and little Rosie doing, well, nothing. And often in their diapers, nothing more.

Sick, people! Not cute! Not precious! Not adorable to anyone whose genes didn’t directly contribute to lil’ foodface!

Enter Pinterest.

Pinterest’s home page says “Pinterest is an online pinboard. Organize and share things you love.” And that’s what people do.

Gorgeous scenery, adorable cupcakes, beautiful hair and flower arrangements, wedding ideas, baby ideas, room ideas, organizational tricks, crafts, funny quotes, lovely quotes, inspirational quotes, cute animals, great fashion ideas, the list goes on. On Pinterest, people seek out or add or draw attention to those things that they love, that they choose to put their names and their stamps of approval on.

On the rare occasion when someone makes a negative comment on someone else’s pin, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Pinterest isn’t about getting your point across. It’s about getting a smile on your face. And on other people’s faces.

See? Unique and lovely. (Photo credit:, lifted off Pinterest)

Pinterest doesn’t have everyday photos of people’s kids smearing food in their hair and on the dog. First year seminary students aren’t arguing minute points about baptism and using all their new vocab words. Thank. Goodness. Some things on Pinterest aren’t as lovely as the others (there are a LOT of bacon pics…I don’t get it) but the ratio of wonderful things to look at or try or imagine in your own (someday) home is easily 10:1.

Pinterest: A 40,000 page magazine with none of the crappy ads.

So when people, generally women, post on Facebook that they are wasting time on Pinterest, I get a little sad. Beauty and imagination aren’t a waste of time, but you might want to think about kicking the Facebook habit.

Ha! Now who would have found this on Facebook? (Photo credit:, lifted off Pinterest)

I’m method acting here, give me a day or two

Day 2. Food supplies are running low. Dog is restless. Sickness arrived yesterday. Snow in the evening. It’s cold. So. Cold.

The husband: Can you turn on the space heater?
Me: No, that ruins the scene I’m setting. I’m method acting here.
The husband: Aren’t you being a little dramatic?
Me: Pipe down and make a grocery list so I can go to the store.
The husband: Won’t that ruin the scene you’re setting?

Ho hum. Everything I said was true. So what if the low food supplies were replenished by going to the store, a run around the park helped the dog, and the sickness was a computer virus that the husband fixed when he got home thanks to a saved conversation with the other middle’s husband a few weeks ago? But it really did snow and it is cold in here, here being underground.

Approximate size of each flake.

The snow was lovely and thick and quiet, fat flakes falling straight down and piling up on the naked branches across the neighborhood. While the boys ran circles in the wide open park, my boots and I watched the snow fall in the beams of the flood lights that lit up the sugar-coated soccer field.

Then we came home, had crock pot chicken for dinner and drank the champagne our landlady had given us for Christmas. We’re fancy like that. And today the snow is gone. I can get used to this.

I can also get used to a new hairstyle! <pumps fist in air> Not because I have found a salon around here, but because <cue trumpet> my bangs are finally long enough to tuck behind my ear! I do not expect male readership to appreciate this milestone.

For most of my life, my hair was super curly, half S-curls and half ringlets. Then a few years ago, with no explanation, it started to straighten out. Now it’s different every day, and sometimes a little bit of everything. Tucking my bangs behind my ear opens a world of hair options and is a small victory for the home team. Or stay-at-home team, I guess.

A visual journey follows.

What my hair used to look like, on good days.
What I wish my hair looked like now. So glossy. So smooth.
What my hair could look like if the little sister did it.
What my hair looks like when I do it.

Maybe it’s not as bad as all that, but the growing-out bangs are a great step. And maybe I will start to use method acting as an excuse for things. I feel like the possibilities are endless.