I called in sick on Thursday and it was probably the best thing I have done for myself in weeks. Sure, you could say it was because I was hung over from Wednesday; I had drank more than my share of cheap American beer throughout the night, and when I woke up and felt like my brain was going to fall out of my forehead, I couldn't focus enough to put my eyeliner on, I figured I would snap out of it. But when the weather guy on the radio said it was going to be the last day of pleasant weather before another few weeks of 100+ degree heat indices and Code Red Ozone Action days, I figured Fuck it. I slept in, went shopping, frolicked in the niceness, and got tons of things accomplished. I woke up Friday morning feeling better and more energized than I had in weeks.
Which brings me to Friday. I have been becoming friends with a girl at work and she invited me to go to Sign of the Whale with her after work sometime, and I had been putting it off until I proposed that we hang out this past Friday, especially since we're on leave-at-2pm Friday summer schedule. I invited Bob White to come along with us, and we were ready to rock and roll. Then Friday morning, she tells me she probably can't go due to sudden craziness and scheduling conflicts. I tell Bob it may just be us, but we go on out anyway.
It's 3:30, I'm running late, and get a call on my cell from my work friend. Turns she *can* go, and I tell her that I'm running late and to keep her eyes peeled for a blonde buzz-cutted guy who will probably be wearing a blue shirt. I arrive at Sign of the Whale about 15 minutes late to find them sitting next to each other with no idea who the other is. I join them, we all start chitchatting, then the regulars who my friend knows start chiming in as well. One of the guys, whether or not we're involved in another conversation, blurts out presidential trivia questions every few minutes. Turns out we're talking to the owner, his son, and some of their other friends, who all seemed to be heavily-accented Irish or Scottish guys. After some good time revelry, and a little resistance from the bartender who refuses to make a girly shot, we head across the street to Roumors, where my friend knows the bartender and was hoping to run into someone. The guys from Sign of the Whale must have left seconds after we did, since after a short trip to the ATM, since who do we find sitting in Roumors having beers as though they'd been there for hours.
I find myself talking to one of the Scottish guys about accents and how some accents are harder to understand than others. I'm explaining how I have a very difficult time understanding Southern accents, while when I first moved here, damned if I didn't get handed a pack of Carltons whenever I asked for a carton of cigarettes. I said to him that while his accent is very thick, I could understand how someone might have trouble with it. He says, "man...you think my accent is bad? If you want to hear some crazy Scottish accents, you should come to this birthday party we're going to." I don't think he necessarily meant that as an invitation, but I said we would happily go to a birthday party with them. They said it was at Nanny O'Brien's, a bar up in Cleveland Park, a distance too far to walk, so I said that Bob and I would metro up there and meet up with them. He said that wasn't necessary as they'd be driving up and be happy to give us a ride.
Next thing I know, Bob, my friend, and I are piling into a '73 diesel Mercedes with 4 other people, including the presidential trivia guy from Sign of the Whale. We get to Nanny O'Brien's to find the birthday boy: a 60-some year-old with, as promised, the grumbliest most incomprehensible Scottish accent I have ever heard. I wish him happy birthday, and he smacks me with a big wet dirty-old-man kiss right on my lips and the cackles to himself as he takes another drink from his beer.
I'm having a grand old time talking to these guys and their friends, including a Brazilian girl who had story after story about how when she went to college in Idaho, she followed the Grateful Dead around and how she lost a friend's ticket when cleaning out their RV and had to dig through a stadium dumpster to find it. Bob and my friend asked me if I was ready to leave, and I said I was having too much fun and asked if we could stick around for another half-hour or so. Bob insists that they have to leave NOW, I get the picture, and say that I'll be fine taking the metro home myself. The Sign of the Whale guys get all noble and swear that they'll get me home safely, and "when I say I'm going to get you home safely, it doesn't mean just to leave you in a metro station".
The guys take me to Pizzeria Uno's down the street where I'm handed 22oz. pilsner and sit down with some of their friends. A few minutes later, the birthday boy passes around a plate with pizza on it, and offers us all a slice, which we take. The people at the next table over start arguing with him, and it turns out that he had just taken a pizza off of the table next to ours and was confused as to why they were so upset. He grew agitated, began cursing and saying he'd buy them another fucking pizza if they wanted another fucking pizza. I went over to the other table, apologized, and ended up talking astrology with one of the girls in their party for a long time. The replacement pizza arrived, no one was eating it, so I asked if I could have a slice. One of the girls said "it's not a pizza, it's a political statement." Can I have a slice of your political statement then?
Eddie, one of the fellas from Nanny O'Brien's apparently made a formal promise to Bob ensuring my safe return home, and he was taking it very seriously. He started asking me with increased frequency if I was ready to leave, and I said no for a while, and then finally agreed it was time to head out of there. Mind you, I had been planning on either taking the metro home or splitting a cab with Bob, and did not have enough cash for a whole cab to myself. I told Eddie this, and he seemed to not get it right away, but I insisted that I had only $4 in cash, and could not afford the whole ride, so I was willing still to take the Metro. "I made a promise to Bob, and I'm going to keep my promise to Bob!" she shouts, hands me a twenty, and hails me a cab. I somehow got on the topic of gun control with the cab driver, and left him the whole twenty dollar bill, in the hopes of karmically returning it to Eddie. Maybe if I ever see him again, I'll pay him back.