The space evokes Bushwick (animal heads mounted to peeling white-washed walls), but the clientele says TriBeCa happy hour after an unusually light Friday on Wall Street (one can easily imagine fist-pumping occurring at any second now). It’s been months since I moved to D.C., but I can’t seem to break my habit of likening most environs to their New York facsimiles.
I wander around the bar, swerving around clusters of men and women, some more raucous than others. The women here are particularly uninteresting. Observing women—their garb, their mannerisms, their gussied-up versions of themselves—is one of my favorite things to do when I go out.
The men here are equally unexceptional. The only difference is, ironically, their remarkable homogeneity. The women at the very least have a good smattering of diversity in wear and looks, but the men here blur into a singular rowdy form, wearing collared shirts, khakis, boat shoes, and sport late-summer tans (or so I imagine them to be tanned, the light is too dim to actually tell). I’m in total bro territory.
I try my best not to make eye contact with any of them. Years ago I would have certainly done something to capture their attention—a brazen joke, a lingering smile, a playful punch. Tonight I just want to be left alone with my friends.
"Can I sit here?" I ask in the general direction of one of these faceless bros. He and a group of three other plaid-shirted boys are crowded around a bench. I sit down as I ask the question, not waiting for a response.
"Totally, go for it. Do you mind if I put my foot here?" he asks, propping his foot up on the bench. I stare briefly at his foot (Sperry’s, no socks), then his knee, and then his crotch which I notice is a smidgeon too close for comfort. He does this on purpose, I know. His "buddies" (what I imagine he would call them) laugh a little at this exchange. It’s a weird form of masculine theater that lurches me back to memories of college.
"Uh, sure." I turn towards my friends and take a slow sip of bourbon.
As I stand out in the courtyard that night talking to my main companion of the night, Peter, a gangly bespectacled boy two years my junior, I slowly come to the realization that perhaps my taste in men has changed completely and without much fanfare. How or when this happened, I’m not sure. It seems to have crept up on me. Was it with age? With experience dating this general archetype (or a subset thereof, more or less)? This sudden realization gives way to relief, as I meet my second epiphany of the night: this is certainly for the better.
I disdainfully eye the group of guys who are still hovering nearby. Someone has dropped their glass and it’s been smashed to pieces on the floor. The shards glitter in the dark, and I halfheartedly kick a few away from my feet. In their general direction, perhaps.
Peter and I spend the rest of our night exchanging literary puns, then numbers.
I should come back here, I think to myself as we exit the bar.
Eames House / Charles and Ray Eames, 1949
Rita Ora - I Will Never Let You Down
When you’re feeling low on love
I’ll be what you’re dreaming of
I will never let you down
Salmon tacos, get in my belly. #theonenighticook