Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Apparently DC doesn't "DO" winter

I have a problem.

I’m a country girl. I love my quiet town and my mountains and my long, cold winters.  I love bundling up in big, poofy layers and throwing myself down upon the snow in the pasture to just stare up at the frosty stars. I love weather that is so cold you have to wear a scarf beneath your ski goggles or your face will fall off.

Me and the Madre, properly outfitted for a REAL winter.

Back in Montana, winter crawls in to stay somewhere around Nov. 1. For example, it was 30 degrees back home today. And that was the high. Yes, our falls are both spectacular and spectacularly short. This has conditioned me to be ready and eager for winter at an early date.

Unavoidable fact: I live in the city.  No frosty stars or heaps of snow here (excluding Snowpocalypse 2010). And, hmm, it's kind-of still really warm.

Actually, today – the middle of freaking November, might I point outthe temperature reached a high of 70 degrees. 

What is this, Florida?

I realize that most of my friends are ecstatic with this weather, but I’m still in shock. It reminds me of the time I spent studying abroad in Jordan – no snow.  No real cold. (May I remind you, DC, Jordan is a DESERT. I should not be making this comparison right now.) No blatant commercialism to tempt your credit cards as the holidays approached.  I lived in a mostly Muslim country, meaning the run-up to Christmas didn’t exist, because the majority of the country didn’t celebrate Christmas.  Returning to the States on the 19th was like getting physically assaulted by Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Why this analogy matters:

Seriously, I’ve been wearing my jean jacket to work lately. My unlined, thinly-layered, should-not-be-a-winter-coat jean jacket.  Sometimes, I don’t even zip it. I took my scarf off yesterday because it was too hot. Not cool! Literally!

Last week the DC weather gods sent me a teaser – we received a schizophrenic snow/slush/rain mix that was sufficiently white and sticky. Sufficiently white and sticky, that is, to send Aftan skipping up and down the street clapping her hands and crowing about how much she loves winter. It wasn’t obnoxious at all.

But since that promising start, nada. No snow. No frost. No clouds. Again I ask, only with way more incredulity, what is this, Florida?! 

When I fly back to Montana for the holidays, I don’t want to feel like I’ve been physically assaulted by Frosty the Snowman. Work with me here, DC. Send me some real snowflakes. Holla atcha homegirl.  [I was going to spell that “gurl”, but then I just…couldn’t.]

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Part II, or "How pumpkins, whiskey, and fire combine to make a fabulous night out"

So, I meant to write this post a lot earlier -- as The Sis offhandedly reminded me a few minutes ago -- but a few things intervened to bump this down the priority list a few notches. Namely, two of my BEST college buddies came to town and I had much better things to do than sit in my room with my computer. 

When last we met, dear readers, I was on my way to the nearest bar with my friend in sore need of libation -- standing on a street corner mentally envisioning angry hot flames lick their way through my apartment (My computer! My Aberdeen sweater! My Jordan boots!* Aaargh!) will kind-of do that to you.  

Luckily, "the nearest bar" was barely a block away. It's a dark, fun, mostly purple little hole-in-the-wall place crammed full of character. "Seriously," my friend (who is, coincidently, one of the afore-mentioned college buddies. I'll call her Laynsy) later asked, "how did you find this place?" Word of mouth. They do have a website though, which I won't share because I'd prefer NOT to give you blatant clues as to my living whereabouts.

Totally important digression: A few weeks ago, as I was browsing through the bar's website, I noticed that this bar served New Holland Brewery's Dragon's Milk stout. I went to college 2 blocks away from NHB and was raised on their fine beer -- meaning it is TOTALLY THEIR FAULT I am the beer snob that I am -- and while I wasn't the biggest fan of Dragon's Milk, I was encouraged that NHB beer had made it down to DC. Maybe, just maybe, that meant some of their Ichabod pumpkin ale had penetrated the DC market? 

Something you should know: The Ichabod pumpkin ale is It beats out Newcastle brown ale and even Guinness. It's that good. I'm sure part of this is nostalgia talking....but seriously, I had scoured the city and not been able to find it. 

Back to the story. Laynsy and I are on our way to the bar. We're in mild states of shock. We need a drink. Or more. These circumstances combine to put me in a particularly bold and uncaring mood -- I'm evacuated and my poor little apt is stuck next to an ex-wild blaze. Hahahaha!!! Cue hysteria!!  

Keep in mind, this is a Thursday night. The bar scene is pretty tame in my neighborhood on Thursdays. Thus, when we walk in we are (once again, in my case) the only females there. Two groups of guys turn and stare at us. 

I walk boldly forward and slide onto a bar stool. Laynsy joins. (Guys are still staring a bit.) Awesome Bar-Tender Lady greets us -- "What can I get you fine ladies?" -- and drops a huge binder of beer options on the counter in front of us. We open the binder, and there it is on the very first page: the Ichabod pumpkin ale.  ULTIMATE WIN. 

"We'll have that one!!!" Laynsy and I exclaim, slamming our palms emphatically on the counter. "And," I add loudly, "we'll also have some shots of tequila." To aid in our recovery from shock. 

The guys next to us have perked up their ears. Immediately, the group on my left starts talking to me, and the same happens for the group on Laynsy's right. Turns out, Laynsy's friends end up being waaaay cooler, as my friends (or singular "friend" -- his buddy didn't talk much. Just stared at me creepily the whole time) decided to go with the "neg" game. Seriously, it is NOT fun to chat with you if you contradict everything I say. And by the way, if you're at least 27 and male and still sporting a blonde faux-hawk, stop it. Just stop it.

I eventually turned my back on these guys to engage with Laynsy's friends. (My friends left shortly afterward, but only after Creeper Starer touched my elbow and said that it was really nice to meet me.) Laynsy's friends were awesome! They didn't try to hit on us, they weren't whackadoodles, and we had completely normal conversation.

One of them, Jason, said to me at one point, "Hey I noticed Blonde Faux-Hawk Guy try to use the "neg-er" approach with you. He wasn't getting very far!" I expressed my complete bewilderment that that approach would ever work on anyone, but Jason assured me that it actually works a lot. "Girls have surprisingly low self-esteem, and if someone subtly insults them, then they subconsciously want to please him. Trust me. It works."

Guys: that approach will not work on this girl. If you're trying to hit on me by subtly insulting me, I will mentally swear at you and then exit stage left as soon as possible.

Aaaaaanywaaaays. The bar was a cash only place -- bollocks -- so I ventured back to my apartment to collect a few bills and get an update on the fire situation. Laynsy held down our tab at the bar. The firefighters were finishing up for the night, and a huge cluster of them stood outside my place. We chatted for a moment as a few others threw useless burned crap out the windows of the now-burned neighbor's apartment.

They told me I couldn't go back inside, due to the throwing-crap-out-windows situation. "Is it really urgent?" they asked. "Do you have to take some medication?" Haha, no not at all...why, do I look deranged?? "Do you have a pet?" No, actually I need to get some cash to settle up my bar tab.

Instant scoring of points with the firefighters. 

"Yeeeaaaahh!!! Boy, wish WE could have some beer right now! Go drink another for us!" Oh, I will.

They paused the other guys in their trash throwing activities, and I nipped inside to grab the cash. On my way out I stopped to chat further with the group. 

"Um, were you friends with any of those guys?" one firefighter asked. All the others appeared really interested in my answer, and peered at me. 

"No, not really," I responded, feeling a bit awkward. "I mean, they gave me my mail when the postman mis-delivered it, but other than that...."

"Well, GOOD," a particularly handsome firefighter said. (Read: SMOKIN HOT firefighter. Pun intended.) "Trust me, you did not want to be friends with those guys."


"Oh, it's nothing I can repeat in front of a lady."

......Cute, but yes you can I have to know tell me tell me!

I wheedled a few other details out of him, and yes. He was right. I didn't need to know more. End of story. 

Eventually I reluctantly went back to the bar, where we chatted further with Jason and his buddy. We swapped stories and advice and generally had a good time, and Jason bought us a round of Buffalo Trace whiskey before they took off.

All in all, the evening ended fabulously. Something in the universe decided to reward our earlier stress by treating us to Ichabod ale, free whiskey, new friends, and at least 15 minutes where I had a group of 5 to 7 firefighters all to myself. 

Oh, also, the bar had an Airedale puppy wandering around. Further win.

Editor's note: Laynsy received several kisses that night...from the Airedale. She said it was "THE HIGHLIGHT OF HER NIGHT." (She owns an Airedale -- shout out to Sophie-Soph!)

*Purchased while abroad for the equivalent of $12. When I bought them, I found a receipt inside that said they were originally from Europe and priced at something crazy ridiculous like 90 euros. Don't know if that receipt was real or not, but these boots are AWESOME and I always garner more than a few compliments when I wear them.