There was a pitifully small window of time in my youth when I had the money and the freedom to go out and have as much fun as my legs and my liver could stand. I didn't often go out during the work week - I evidently still held onto that "school night" mentality - but on Thursday you could find me at the mall buying new outfits - or at least pieces of them - to be worn on Friday and Saturday night when I'd join my friends at various clubs for drinking and dancing and the typical stuff a twenty-two-year-old gets into.
I was married a few months before I turned twenty-five and stared down a lot of years where going out and having rowdy fun came to a screeching halt. My first husband, nicknamed "Velcro Ass" by my dear friend Susan because of his lay-on-the-couch-as-much-as-possible lifestyle, just wasn't the rowdy fun type.
Ex-husband and I were good friends with our next door neighbors, John and Mary (not their real names but you having to read an alphabet's worth of initials to hide various identities gets old very fast, doesn't it?) and we did things with them quite a bit. Mary was sensible and while she liked fun, she wasn't as free to cut-up as John was. John has a younger brother, Kevin (I'll let you guess if that's his real name or not), and when Kevin would visit he and John would go out and get silly and as often as not Mary would stay home because their brand of silliness wasn't her thing. Their brand of silliness was exactly my thing and I'd get invited to tag along with them. Often it would just be to a local bar to drink and play trivia and watch Kevin chat up the waitresses but there was one memorable night that pretty well got me banned from hanging out with John and Kevin for good.
My ex-husband was out of town for a week for a hunting trip and Mary was out of town with the kids visiting her family. John had been down in Florida for business and Kevin had joined him so they could play golf in John's spare time. They were due back on a Friday night and the plan was for me to meet them at the airport and then drive into DC and do whatever struck our fancy.
After work I changed and drove to the Metro station in order to take the subway to the airport so I could meet them at the airline lounge and by the time I arrived John and Kevin were already loosened up...at least Kevin was. We gathered up their bags and golf clubs, watched Kevin fall, golf clubs and all, down an escalator, bailed the car out of long term parking and made our way across the Potomac to find a place to continue our adventure.
I was crammed into the back seat so I wasn't even paying attention to where we were going - all I knew was that we were somewhere in NW Washington, DC. The car was parked, Kevin extracted an obscene amount of cash from an ATM and we were in search of a place for us to light.
It wasn't my idea to first go into the strip club. I wish I could remember the name of it but I do remember it was the one that former DC mayor Marion Barry would frequent in his "Bitch Set Me Up" days. I also remember that the strippers looks sort of used and shabby. Luckily my request to get the hell out of there was granted.
I'm not quite sure how long it took us to get there - there was a lot of walking by clubs and bars and sticking our heads inside and then moving along and I think we were walking in circles - but we ended up at Sign of the Whale. I'm not even sure if that bar is there anymore since I haven't lived in the DC area in a long time but at that time it was a sort of frat boys/girls that like frat boys hang out. I'd been in there a few times before but not since I actually dated frat boys so I wasn't really up on the place except to remember its brick walls, wooden floors and narrow area. There was a fair amount of patrons already there (by now it was about 10pm) so we went in to do further damage to our livers. A DJ was there playing records - mostly oldies party music - and it wasn't long before we sort of took over the place. Kevin, used to Manhattan watering holes where he's well known and loved, was the ringleader.
Now this was a bar. A tavern. A pub. It's not a dance club. They didn't even have a dance floor. It's not that dancing wasn't allowed - there just wasn't any real room to dance, that is there wasn't until John, Kevin and I decided that dancing was just what this place needed. While the DJ played the likes of Build Me Up, Buttercup
and Summer In The City
we found the widest open space in the joint and proceeded to dance.
Suddenly we were like the superstars of the bar. Everyone there loved that they could dance if they wanted and we three became very popular dance partners, people surrounding all three of us. Free drinks were coming our way at a furious pace and it was as if everyone wanted to be seen with us. Us. Two bankers and a customer service agent for a power utility. No one famous or powerful in a city filled with the famous and powerful. Just three people who were drunk enough to not give a shit about the rules and who were willing to have a great time.
And we did have a great time. We danced and drank and talked - well, shouted above the din anyway - and reveled in being the focal point of the place. I was like the queen bee surrounded by a hive full of drones. John and Kevin always were the life of any party but I wasn't used to it and it felt great. For that evening I was ten years younger and I was having fun without worrying about...well...anything. I could have all the fun I wanted without any single girl angst.
By 2am we'd lost Kevin to some poor girl who'd succumbed to his smooth talking ways and John and I left without him. As we left the DJ thanked us for making the whole night and proclaimed that it was the most fun he'd had in there since he started that gig. We found the car, John drove me back to the Metro station where my Jeep was parked and I followed him back to our respective homes. And as a cautionary note to this tale - please people, do not drive if you have been drinking alcohol. I did that night and it was a stupid, stupid thing to do. I've not done it since. If you've been drinking at all, just don't drive.
The next day found me with a vicious hangover and a husband who returned home to find me in that state. He wasn't very sympathetic about my condition and while it was painful to go through the day trying to minimize its impact, it was worth it. It was worth it all to have the memory of that night. In the coming years when my marriage was at its worst and I was feeling worthless and depressed, the memory of that night could still make me smile. It still does. I suppose it doesn't matter how many years have passed - it still feels good to remember a time when you were the most popular person in the room. When you were in demand by everyone. When everyone wanted to be you.