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“Latins are tenderly enthusiastic. In Brazil, they throw flowers at you. In Argentina, they throw themselves." -- Marlene Dietrich

Don’t let the exit interview kick you on the way out

Thursday, August 31, 2006
After 3 ½ years as a contractor for the FAA, today is my last day as I move on next week to the glamorous, high-stakes world of Federal employment. Bankers’ hours, 17 daily coffee breaks, and counting down the days until retirement await me. I’ll still be technical writing, but this time for a new FAA organization that deals with air traffic safety oversight. (I could not have timed this any better, one week after the Kentucky crash over the weekend that killed 49 people.)

At my exit interview yesterday (I think HR called it a “termination outtake” or something Dilbertish like that), I expected my HR director to get down on her knees and beg me to stay. Perhaps an offer of doubling my salary or giving me the keys to some executive washroom. But no. Instead, she processed my “outtake”, had me sign some papers, and that was that. I have to say, though, I was highly amused by the inspirational Successories calendar tacked above her desk; August, by the way, was all about “Character”.

And if I thought I would have a nice, easy workday today, I had another think coming. Transferring everything you’ve worked on for the past few years to your successor is more taxing than you’d expect. Still, my desk is now a clean canvas and my co-workers did take me out to lunch to Fado, an Irish-style restaurant in Chinatown that I used to frequent on Thursday nights to watch live music. I ordered the Irish Breakfast and managed to ward off pleas of “Speech! Speech!”

I may be gregarious in social situations but I CANNOT stand in front of ANYONE and make a speech. My lips get dry, my tongue feels like it’s swelling, and I start to shake. Probably goes back to 10th grade when I gave an oral book report on The Natural and Mr. Sanchez, in front of the entire class, accused me of not reading the book. Maybe that’s because I hadn’t read it and my report was based on the movie, where Robert Redford DOESN’T strike out at the end.

Anyway, in a few hours I’m off to enjoy my four-day weekend of doing nothing before I start my career as a green-badger (Fed) on Tuesday. I’ll get to join the FAA gym for free; I’ll be able to look down my nose at contractors; and, perhaps most importantly, I’ll get to sit back and relax, content in the knowledge that all your tax dollars are paying my salary.

Arjewtino Notes:

My kickball team, Captain McDreamy and the Rainbow Coalition, won our first game of the season Tuesday evening, 7-2, wearing tie-dyed shirts and demoralizing our opponents at flip cup with a clean sweep. We have several cool, new players this season and we’re playing in the new NAKID league. The first night was a long, drunken one for many of us and there were many photos documenting the debauchery.

Still getting a lot of blog love due to my Wonkette mention this week. I feel like I’m becoming a part of the blogging community, which, as soon as I wrote that, realized how geeky it made me sound. I don’t care. This blog is my creative outlet, my writing habit, my break from editing technical directives on aviation safety.

Coming next week: Arjewtino and The Princess open a joint checking account! Hilarity ensues!!

My hollow victory on Wonkette; or, giving credit where credit's due

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
If there is a proper analogy in this world for what it’s like to get honored for someone else’s work, then I’d like to hear it. Wonkette, one of my favorite blogs of all time, picked up my friend Kwest’s story about WaPo restaurant reviews. My Internet traffic spiked 700%; friends are e-mailing me their accolades; and yet, I know I'm basking in someone else’s glory.

I told The Princess when I first started this blog that getting featured in DC Blogs is cool; getting a mention in the Express is great; but getting picked up by Wonkette would be the Holy Grail. Now that it’s happened, though, I can’t help but feel like it’s undeserved. The only way to justify this to myself is to say that it was MY headline and MY vision to have Kwest guest blog. After all, I DID suggest it during one of our coffee breaks. I’m like the conductor of a symphony: I don’t actually PLAY the instruments, but the music doesn’t happen without me. As my friend Kevin Iaccocca told me this morning, “Get other people to do your work and take credit for it. That’s true leadership.”

If you missed it, you should go back and read Kwest’s post. It’s funny, interesting, and well-written (all attributes I look for in a guest blog). Of course, he’s now banned for life from ever guest-blogging again. I think the Wonkette mention is going to his head. He’s already asked me when he’s getting his royalties.

As long as I'm confessing, my friend Dennis helped me write the title of this posting.

Reviews are Written by Sociopaths or Restaurant Owners

Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The following is a guest blog posting by Arjewtino’s friend Kwest:

There’s a strange phenomenon my wife and I noticed in DC. People are fanatically attached to their neighborhood restaurants, dives, bars, and clubs, never venturing out more than a few staggerable blocks from their homes when they go out in the evening. We lived on Capitol Hill for years, and we’re just as guilty of this as anyone else. The Hawk-n-Dove was usually as far as we got, unless the Belgian beer and moules frites drew us as far as Barrack’s Row. We knew all the great places on the Hill, and we wanted to share them with everyone. But if we ever asked our friends in Mount Pleasant to meet us for dinner on the Hill, they always had excuses and complaints, such as “that’s so far away” and “is there a metro there?” and “what city is that in again?”

To be honest, we did the same thing when they asked us to dinner in Adams Morgan; but, let’s be honest: Adams Morgan IS far away from the Hill, and there isn’t a Metro there (no matter what the signs at the Woodley Park station say). So our excuses were legitimate. Or, maybe we’re all just lazy. But the point is, when my wife and I recently moved to U Street, we didn’t know the neighborhood’s culinary scene very well. Except for our pilgrimages to Ben’s Chili Bowl and our required quarterly visits to Adams Morgan to reinforce our belief that Adams Morgan is far away and has no metro, we knew almost nothing about U Street.

So I turned to the Washington Post’s restaurant reviews to check out which were the best places. At first glance, it seemed like a good idea to read the “Reader Reviews”. Surely, they’d be honest and insightful, written by discerning diners like myself. My strategy was democratic: the more people that liked it, the better the restaurant. Right?

But like many other things in DC, this bastion of democracy, it ain’t so simple. I discovered that the reviews are written by one of two kinds of people: restaurant owners or sociopaths. And usually, those were the only two reviews. It goes like this: the owner of the establishment writes a glowing review of his own place that sounds as if it were cut and pasted from advertising copy. This prompts a sociopath, for reasons known only to his (or her) addled brain, to write a review trashing the restaurant. The review is often filled with vitriolic rage at anyone who would dare to charge such high prices, utter disdain at the poor service, and an overall hatred, it seems, of the very idea of going out in public to share a meal with friends. A good example are the reviews for Simply Home. The review at the bottom is obviously the owner’s, and the middle one is from the sociopath.

This is completely unhelpful. I can’t trust the owner of the restaurant to be fair, and while the old adage “just because I’m a sociopath doesn’t mean that I didn’t have a bad meal” may be true, I believe the sociopathic review rings true only for other sociopaths.

I didn’t know what to do. Bothering me more than my hunger and confusion was my sense of justice: these reviews ill-serve the very audience they are meant to help. So I decided to rectify the situation by writing my own review of the reviewer’s reviews (got that?), thinly veiled as a review of the restaurant. That’s right, the first review entitled “I’ve gotta try this place!” on the Simply Home page is mine. I figured two stars is good enough for a place I’ve never actually set foot in. I have to admit, my review is no more helpful than the other two reviews, but it sure does make the place seem like it is worth at least one visit. Keep an eye out for other reviews of reviews (or “meta-reviews,” as I fancy them, allowing me to believe I’m engaged in a broader epistemological discourse, as opposed to simple Arjewtino-like kvetching). I intend to right the wrongs of restaurant reviews everywhere, starting with the Washington Post.

Once again, we get fucked by the Republicans

Monday, August 28, 2006
Banning gay marriage. Criminalizing flag burning. Giving tax breaks to society’s wealthiest citizens.

You can now add “pummeling our softball team” to the growing list of grievances I have with the GOP.

Ranked number two in the Congressional Softball League, my softball team, the Trust Funded Babies, faced off against the Republican National Committee Saturday afternoon in our first postseason tournament. And as Woody Allen might have paraphrased: the RNC did to us what they’ve been doing to this country for the past six years, thoroughly screwing us out of the tournament with an 18-5 drubbing.

The game started well, as we took a one-run lead in the first. Our defense looked tight, too, as I turned in a double play and Jeff had a great diving catch on a shallow pop-up in left field. But in the third inning, with the score tied 1-1, the wheels came off, as the team that had mounted an 11-2 regular season record began playing like the Bad News Bears, only not nearly as lovable. We gave up 17 runs – SEVENTEEN RUNS -- and were out on the field for 40 minutes, dropping fly balls, walking every other batter, and forgetting how many outs we had.

Maybe we didn’t have enough “comeback juice”. Maybe having an actual umpire calling balls and strikes rattled us. I don’t know. But despite having actual fans in the stands pulling for us and taunting the RNC, our bleeding hearts weren’t enough to take the game.

Mission accomplished.

The Rules I Never Even Saw Coming

Friday, August 25, 2006
In the nearly two weeks that I have lived with The Princess, I have learned, at the very least, one thing: Women have rules that men never even knew existed. These are the secret rules that women don’t tell us about when we’re dating or when we spend a fun weekend at her place. These are the rules that NO ONE tells you about until it’s too late and you have to learn them on your own.

1. There is ALWAYS something more to clean.

“You’re such a man,” The Princess told me Wednesday night as I sat on my bed and watched TV after helping her clean up. I smiled and thought, “Damn straight.” But she didn’t mean it in a complimentary way. Although I felt we had cleaned our place up as much as humanly possible after her birthday party, there were still things left to be done. Don’t get me wrong. In no way was I trying to shirk my responsibilities. But as a “man” (i.e., freak genetic mutation), I was unable to detect the remaining chores that she so clearly perceived. “I don’t see what you see,” I told The Princess. “Oh, I know that,” she replied.

2. Watching TV together does not count as “quality time”.

This mystifies me. You’re sitting on the couch, watching the latest Prison Break after a long day at the office, hanging out with your best girl. You’re comfortable, you’re relaxed, maybe you’re even having a glass of wine. This, my friends, does not qualify as “spending time together” to The Princess. Though you can weaken the rule by giving her a foot rub or shoulder massage, don’t feel like you’ve logged in any good “us” time.

2(a): This rule doesn’t count when she wants to watch Grey’s Anatomy.

3. Cooking together is supposed to be fun.

When your kitchen is the size of your standard DC-issued cubicle, cooking a meal together can look like a Cirque du Soleil production. Lots of dancing around each other, yelling unintelligible commands, and a high risk of injury if one isn’t paying attention. Being Argentinian, I grew up in a household where the men sat and the women served us. But I also consider myself an enlightened, progressive feminist who believes in all that equality crap. So over the years, I have had to reconcile these two seemingly opposite facets. But at my basest level, I want to be served my dinner and I want to take a minimal role in helping prepare that meal. And by “minimal role” I mean “do nothing”. But it IS important to The Princess that I help out in the kitchen so I do what I can, which mostly means listening to whatever she tells me to do. Granted, it is fun to actually “eat” the meal together but no one will ever convince me that “cooking” it is an experience much higher than doing laundry.

4. The last one to wake up makes the bed.

Who the hell made up this rule? Was there some furtive Grand Council of Women who voted on this rule at their annual conference (which, I assume, includes workshops titled “Pillow Fights in Sexy Underwear” and “Braiding Each Other’s Hair: How Tight is Too Tight?”)? I think this rule should be amended to: First one who wants to go to sleep makes the bed.

5. Ten o’clock is late.

I remember pretty vividly being in my 20s and possessing the PHYSICAL ABILITY to stay up until 3am on a weeknight, drinking with my friends, eating at Ben’s Chili Bowl, and STILL getting up on time to go to work. But much like a superhero who has lost his superpowers, age has pulled a kryptonite on me and I can no longer stay up late without risking oversleeping. Still, though I may not be the powerful partier I once was, no matter how “early” you feel like you should go to bed, women always feel like it could be earlier. In my apartment, The Princess is usually yawning and fantasizing about her pillow at about 10pm. I’m usually thinking if it’s not too late to meet the guys for a beer.

For those of you who currently cohabitate, have cohabitated in the past, or are considering the possibility of someday cohabitating with someone, what are some unforeseen rules you’ve learned? Are there any rules women have learned about men that they didn’t know existed?

Welcome to the OC, Bitch

Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Ocean City is not like Rehoboth or Dewey beaches. It’s not even like Malibu, Santa Monica, or Newport Beach (My OC). No, this East Coast-OC is much, much better. But not for the reasons you might expect.

The Princess, her sister, her 11-year-old-going-on-40-year-old cousin, and I hit Route 50 Saturday morning to spend the day in Ocean City, Md. We woke up at 7am to “beat the traffic” but managed to stretch a 3-hour trip into nearly five hours with stops at Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, and Wal-Mart (god help me, I love that place; where else can you find work slacks for $11 AND stock up on shotgun ammunition?). We DID manage to avoid any significant traffic and learned that we didn’t even need Mapquest’s help on this trip since Route 50 pretty much ends in the OC. We found parking two blocks from the beach for $1/hour (score!), grabbed our gear, and made our way to the sand.

Walking on the OC boardwalk was more reminiscent of going to a county fair or entering a carnival: the freaks, the geeks, and cheap wares were all on display. I half expected to see the Bearded Lady shooting water into a clown’s mouth with the Elephant Man. They even had a roller coaster and Ferris wheel on the pier. We sneaked our bathing suits into the public bathroom (apparently, it’s illegal to change in a PUBLIC bathroom in the OC) and were soon on the beach.

It was a beautiful, hot sunny day, made all the more special since The Princess’s cousin had never seen the ocean. She wasn’t all that impressed. I think she gets more excited by downloading new songs onto her IPod than seeing the awe-inspiring marvel that is our interconnected global body of salt water. Whatever. We ate some cold pizza (is there such a thing as bad leftover pizza?), laid out for a while, and then ventured into the water. The great thing about the OC is that they sell or rent every conceivable thing you might need: beach towels, chairs, umbrellas, and boogie boards. Of course, like most things, you don’t need them. The waves were a towering ONE FOOT-HIGH cascade of ocean water, which made the lifeguards pretty gratuitous but still managed to knock The Princess’s bikini off at least four times that I saw. The shore was packed with people, enabling me to clothesline adults and children alike while bodysurfing.

After an existential discussion on what alternative to sand would be the ideal replacement for a beach (we decided on towel material), The Princess and I went for a walk. What we discovered during our jaunt was that the OC is a microcosm of society: on the north side of the pier, where we were, it was mostly white people. South of the pier, though, most of the beach-goers were black, Latino, and Asian. I also noticed that every other person had a tattoo; this plethora of ink devalued the whole art form and made me rethink if I truly want another one.
We wrapped it up in the afternoon and, while The Princess took her cousin to get a henna tattoo, The Princsister and I went to a hole in the wall for a couple of beers. We chose The Bearded Clam after much consideration that it looked like every other bar in the OC. Also, the name alone was funny. FYI: You really don’t know the meaning of the word “dive” until you go to The Bearded Clam. It was full of photos of racecar drivers I didn’t recognize, was showing some NASCAR race that was, apparently, a big deal, and was being patronized by people you would expect at one of these races. I paid $8 for four beers for both of us and got the hell out of there.

We all met up and walked the boardwalk, chomping on some fries and people watching. Along the side of the walkway, some talented Jesus-freak rendered a sand berm into his rendition of The Last Supper. Pretty impressive stuff and a perfect photo opportunity for out-of-towners like us. Because everybody loves a good Sand Jesus.

We considered stopping at one of those notorious OC All-You-Can-Eat crab shacks but they were out of our price range AND gave you a 70-minute time limit. So they’re not really All-You-Can-Eat as much as they are All-You-Can-Eat-In-The-Time-We-Allot-You. We eventually found a roof-deck restaurant with some great happy hour specials and were served by a waiter from Reston who tried to convince me that his town is considered a part of “the DC area.” I don’t think so. If you have to drive more than half an hour on I-66 to get to the city and you have to go PAST Dulles, you’re not in “the DC area.”

We scarfed down our dinners, picked up some ice cream, and made our way home, leaving the OC behind us. Can’t wait for next season.

If Satan and Eve had had this much trouble in Eden, we’d still be living in Paradise

Thursday, August 17, 2006
As many of you know, I recently moved in with The Princess. This arrangement is new to both of us and, as expected, has led to some strange communication experiences and “figuring each other out” moments. The following is a conversation we had Wednesday evening while The Princess was in the kitchen and my fat ass was on the couch watching TV:

The Princess: Are you going to eat this apple?
Ar-Jew-Tino: What apple?
The Princess: This apple on the counter.
Ar-Jew-Tino: It’s not mine.
The Princess: But do you want it?
Ar-Jew-Tino: I didn’t get the apple.
The Princess: I know, but are you going to eat it?
Ar-Jew-Tino: When? Now?
The Princess: Are you EVER going to eat it?
Ar-Jew-Tino: Maybe, but I didn’t even know we had apples.
The Princess: So do you want it?

— at this point, she comes to the couch to show me the apple —

Ar-Jew-Tino: That’s definitely not my apple.
The Princess: I don’t care if it’s your apple, DO YOU WANT IT?
Ar-Jew-Tino: I don’t want it.
The Princess: I’m throwing it away, then.
Ar-Jew-Tino: Why would you throw away an apple? Someone might eat it.
The Princess: Are you going to eat it?
Ar-Jew-Tino: No, it’s not mine.

I find this whole “Men are from Neptune, Women are from Jupiter” argument pretty trite and oversimplified; sometimes, though, we might as well be from different planets.

$30.06 for Gazpacho and Cotton Candy? Now THAT'S a deal!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Don’t ever eat gazpacho.

I don’t care how nice the restaurant is where you buy it or if they throw lobster in it, gazpacho reminds me of what marinara sauce would look like if you scraped it off a leftover pizza box after three days, blended it on the “puree” setting, and served it in a fancy bowl.

This culinary judgment call comes courtesy of Monday night’s dining experience at Finn and Porter’s, where I met some of my friends for the beginning of Washington DC’s Restaurant Week (for those who do not live in DC, this is a week when “fancy” DC restaurants serve a reduced-price menu to attract new clientele; for $30.06, you get a three-course meal of food you otherwise would need to pay for by emptying out your 401(k)).

Thanks to my friend Ting’s mad forward-thinking, reservation-getting skillz, we got into F&P at 8pm. I was surprised not to see too many people dining there, until I realized we were by the new convention center on 10th St. Who the hell ever hangs out on 10th St. unless you’re a tourist? And how many tourists even know what, let alone when, DC’s Restaurant Week is? Even I often don’t remember until everyone I know starts talking about it.

The best thing about RW is going to a fancy place and paying less. The worst thing, though, is facing off with an undertipped, surly waitstaff. Thanks to F&P’s half-empty dining hall, though, we had a very pleasant staff that brought plenty of stale bread and tepid water.

Shortly after sitting down, we were accosted by an extremely eager sommelier who nearly bullied me into ordering a $200 bottle of wine for $160. He was so persuasive that it would have been the smartest financial decision I would ever make that I almost considered it. I have to give him points for tenacity, but, hello? We were there for the Restaurant Week deal! If we could afford a $200 Merlot we could have afforded to dine somewhere better. Mr. Hyper-Sommelier was very entertaining, though, and didn’t even grunt when we decided to share a $32 bottle of red. AND I learned a new word.

After making faces at the lobster gazpacho, I tasted A-Train's Vietnamese lettuce wraps (thanks for sharing, A-Train), which were delicious. My entrée, the Grilled Rockfish, was superb, even if it did come with creamy cannelini beans I could have bought at Whole Foods. The dessert was an espresso chocolate soufflé, followed by a complimentary bowl of white cotton candy and pirouettes. I never thought that carnival fare could be classed up just by taking out the pink coloring and setting it in a fancy bowl. But it can. What’s next? Cracker Jack on china? Giant lollipops in a champagne flute?

In the end, we left a generous tip. Not so much because we’re generous people, but because our table was so loud and we cackled about raunchy subjects that would make a whore blush, that it was the least we could do. If we didn’t have work the next day, I’m sure a game of flip cup with wine glasses would have broken out. As Traci said, “You can dress this up all you want, but it’s still just us.”

Ten ways I waste time at work.

Monday, August 14, 2006
1. Analyze why my fantasy baseball team, Angela Bower, is mired in 8th place and won’t make the playoffs.

2. Think up witty messages for my GChat status bar.

3. Check my blog’s Site Meter statistics eight times a day.

4. Drink coffee with other G-men and count how many days left until retirement (12,359).

5. Update my Netflix queue and speculate as to whether I’m optimizing my DVD-ordering strategy.

6. Listen to Yahoo LaunchCast and debate whether last year's crappy Better Than Ezra album merits a 20 or 30 (out of 100) rating.

7. Cheat on my daily Express crossword puzzle by looking up information on Wikipedia.

8. Read Gene Weingarten’s online WaPo chat transcript and steal his jokes.

9. Search for the latest “cool/trendy” YouTube video to share with my friends and prove i'm "in the know."

10. Wonder what people did before the Internet.

"We" vs. "They" and The Teams We Love

Friday, August 11, 2006

Growing up in Buenos Aires near El Estadio Monumental, I rooted for River Plate, the most successful futbol franchise in Argentine history. Nicknamed Los Millionarios, it was also my Papi's team and, therefore, became mine. I wore that red stripe proudly and learned early on the tribal custom of cheering for your team and pinning all your hopes on its success.

Our biggest rival was (and is) Boca Juniors, Argentina's working, blue-collar class' club. To this day, I can't stand seeing a blue shirt with a gold stripe across the chest.

This rivalry and love for team is, I believe, primal. Our ancestors cheered when they killed a wooly mammoth or a sabre-tooth tiger; we have sports. More accurately, we have sports voyeurism, an activity that allows us to taste other's glory as if it were our own, to feel winning as if we ourselves were on the pitch. Cavemen would jump, yell, and lurch rhythmically around a kill. We don't have the same, basic opportunities to prove our manhood. So instead of huddling around a kill, we huddle around a ball. We grunt, we eat, we drink, we cheer, and it feels natural.

The Princess doesn't like sports (though she will go watch futbol live), let alone understand my obsession with my teams. She often has a sardonic smile when I say "We won!" when any teams I cheer for (Assocacion Futbol Argentino, River Plate, LA Dodgers, Kings, Lakers, UCLA, Redskins, DC United) performed well.
Because the other side of the coin is when the same squad that brought you such unbridled happiness fails you. The Red Sox just got swept by the Royals, prompting two of my Boston fans to practically abandon hope and call them "they" rather than "us". When "they" lose, we feel let down, weak and impotent. When "we" win, our passion is beyond reason. **

During the U.S.-Italy World Cup game a few weeks ago, I was in Montreal for a buddy's bachelor party. We watched the match on a big screen in a bar with hundreds of rabid soccer fans, each cheering and jeering. When the U.S. scored a goal to take a 2-1 lead, a goal that seconds later would be disallowed, our table, for lack of a better description, erupted. We high-fived, we hugged strangers, we spilled beer on ourselves.

For those 20 seconds or so, it was all we needed to feel alive.

**CORRECTION: One of these friends has since clarified that he never said "they", but rather "the ship is sinking."

Not a good month for los Judios

Thursday, August 10, 2006

DCers remember Cynthia McKinney as the Congresswoman from Georgia who in March struck a Capitol Police officer who didn't recognize her and had stopped her because she wasn't wearing her Congressional lapel pin when she entered the House Office Building. This is the same woman whose father, on the night before McKinney's 2002 primary election, stated on Atlanta television that "Jews have bought everyone."

Now, after getting pumelled in the runoff for her Congressional seat by a margin of 59%-41%, her "entourage" made some anti-Semitic comments to an Atlanta newscrew. The news crew reports that someone said, "You wanna know what led to the loss? Israel. The Zionists. You. Put on your yarmulke and celebrate."

As much as I enjoy putting on my yarmulke and dancing at bar mitzvahs with 80-year-old women, I am getting sick of this anti-Semitic sentiment that seems to be at the forefront of our collective experience these days. Mel is a crazy drunk who should be ignored rather than given more opportunities to "apologize." But McKinney is (or was) an elected official who has a history of flying off the handle and espousing whatever sick feelings she has at the moments she has them. If we had as much power as people like McKinney's campaign staff think we do, I'd be pretty impressed. To have such a powerful effect in an 18-point congressional election? We are some Super Jews.

Life changes are healthy

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
There comes a time in every man’s life when he must stop watching TV all night in his underwear, noshing on unhealthy meals of microwave burritos from 7-11, and move in with his girlfriend. For me, that time is this weekend. And while Ar-Jew-Tino loves The Princess very much and is ready for the next step, there are some pleasures – some secret and some not ‑ he must give up as he ventures from Adams Morgan into Cohabitation-burg, aka Takoma Park:

1. MY place. I know it’s a piece of crap apartment with panels for walls, a double layer of carpeting, and a bathroom only the bravest hazmat teams would venture into, but it is MY place. My empty Diet Pepsi cans go where I want. My AC is set to High Cool. And my remote control is ALWAYS in my hand.

2. After work. There is nothing I like more, on evenings when I don’t have kickball, softball, darts, or other social engagements, to come home, pop in my latest DVD from Netflix (I’m really into the British spy series MI-5; seriously, check it out, better than 24), and watch until it’s time to go to sleep. The Princess last night, though, told me she is VERY much looking forward to nights of cooking dinners together, going for walks along the creek, and playing board games. For a man who’s been on his own for more than three years, this feels weird. I mean, really, who thinks about the pleasures of cooking all day? One friend told me that if his girlfriend had her way every night, there would be less SportsCenter and more “sitting on the couch, staring at each other, and talking about how much in love we are.”

3. Sleeping habits. In college, my girlfriend told me I was like water because the second she got out from bed, I would wash my body over the mattress and take up every corner of space. I haven’t changed much since then. I like having my feet in one corner and my head diagonally at the opposite corner. I also like snoring without being woken with a jab to the head or a kick in the shins. Call me crazy, but that’s how I roll.

4. Time. “That’s how it works,” my aforementioned friend told me today. “It’s natural; a man needs some time alone.” I’m lucky in this respect because The Princess is very big on her own time alone and giving me mine. Still, we’re not always on the same schedule. Melding our life habits together can be tough, but when you’re used to deciding for yourself when you want to be alone, it can be even tougher. My time along can involve reading my book at Tryst, hanging with my boys at Bedrock at our Monday Mensa Meeting, or (this is one of my secret pleasures) making up games of statistics involving coins.

5. Sleven (aka 7-11). I know eating at 7-11 is not good for me and I know it’s not technically a “restaurant,” but god help me I love their selections of day-old sandwiches, microwave burritos, and taquitos. Also, it’s only half a block from my place. I’m going to miss the slow employees, the 2-for-1 Camel Light specials, the incomplete Sunday Washington Posts, and the ungrateful beggars who become selective food connoisseurs when I offer them dinner.

There it is. Five things I’ll miss from living alone. But here is the best part about moving in with The Princess: I get to live with her. I get to come home to her. I get to share my life with her.

Those gastrointestinal system havoc-wreaking microwave burritos suddenly don't seem so appetizing.

Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond

Monday, August 07, 2006
“Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we're going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don't know, I don't know if we'll have enough time.” -- Frank the Tank, Old School

The Princess and I went to Home Depot and Ikea Friday, bought some paint and a stand for our new 29-inch TV. I think it was called Nöoręldĩn or something Swedish with too many squigglies. It was a very domestic move for us. We also signed the one-year lease. This should have taken 10 minutes, tops, but our landlord made himself at home and regaled us with stories about his daddy from Georgia. I think he might have stayed the whole weekend if he didn’t have another appointment to get to.

Painting is not the fun, carefree time you see in movies and American Express commercials. On TV, when a couple paints their new home, there’s much laughing and dabbing each other with paint-laden brushes; in real life, it was a pain in the ass. I stepped on the paint lid, dropped gobs of it on my crotch, scratched myself on the bookcase, and left streaks all over the walls. The Princess started laughing because every 5 minutes I would yell, "Damn it" or "Shit."

The Princess and I went out with our friends B&J and B’s brother and sister-in-law Saturday night to the Brickskeller, the land of a thousand beers, where we were served in a non-smoking den (what the fuck?) by the same incompetent waiter we had a few weeks ago. He wasn’t nearly as bad this time, and I discovered my new favorite beer from Lithuania called Aiko. Earlier in the day, we went to a “baby celebration”; this is not to be confused with a baby shower, of which attending goes against my personal policy. I drank four cups of tea, thinking it was some kind of special Pakistani brew until someone told me it was Lipton. Kind of lost its magic at that point. We talked about babies, shrimp, and politics, natch.

Other notables:

Hermana sent me some photos from her trip to LA, the first of which was of our old house in Woodland Hills. Last time I was home, I couldn’t even drive by it with Hermano because it would have made me too sad.

When I have a kid, I want his or her first word to be Papa. The Princess, though, wants Ar-Jew-Tino Jr. to call me Daddy, which I think is kind of boring and pedestrian. I call my father Papi and my mother Mami, which was always weird saying out loud in American schools. Still, I would like to carry on the tradition.

I went 2-4 in last week’s softball game, lowering my season average to .622. I haven’t hit a homerun since I sprained my thumb during a tubing accident in Missouri. It’s affected my ability to hit for power. Gotta get my hands on some Barry Bonds miracle cream.


Thursday, August 03, 2006

As many of you know, I love to use Wikipedia to look up random information, obtain knowledge I can then pass on as my own at parties, and cheat at crossword puzzles. Unfortunately, since anyone can post updates to the site, its apocryphal information can be misleading or flat-out wrong. Still, if you're as much a fan of the online encyclopedia as I am, then you have to watch Colbert's take on the site and its ability to bend reality into Wikiality.

That's no whore, officer, that's my sister

Wednesday, August 02, 2006
This story was gleaned from a GChat conversation I had with my friend Dan.

Dan was awake early in Mt. Pleasant on Monday morning, on Piney Branch Parkway, when he encountered in a park two guys molesting a passed-out woman. He said, "What's going on?" to them. One says, "She's my sister." Dan says to himself, That ain't right. So he calls 911.

He called it in as an unconscious woman being molested by two men, prompting a response from 10 cops. He talks to the officers and tells them what the situation is. The three people were “mad drunk,” Dan says. MPD’s finest investigate and tell Dan, "He says she's his sister. I have to believe him."

Dan says to one of the cops, "If that's his sister, that's an odd family, wouldn't you think?" To which he said, "I agree with you, but there's nothing I can do about it."

Dan responds, “OK, sorry to waste your time, officer," with just a hint of sarcasm.

Dan now thinks the woman was probably a hooker, and it was a transaction rather than a molestation. Looks like you can take the riots out of Mt. Pleasant all you want, but in some ways, it’s still the same neighborhood it was 15 years ago.

We Could Have Been Contenders

On a hot muggy DC afternoon, my kickball team, Kids Who Can’t Read Good, lost our first Final Four match ever, battling into extra innings with two comebacks before falling 7-6. There were three homeruns (one by me), amazing defense and bonehead plays, a lot of controversy, and a busted shin (mine). People are calling it the Greatest Kickball Game Ever Played. And by people, I mean me.

Down 3-2 in the third, I hot a long homer to left that barely stayed fair to tie it up. The score stayed at the end of five innings, and though both teams threatened with runners on base, no one could score until the seventh, when our opponent racked up three runs. Playing catcher, I got hit so hard from a slide from a girl that I almost blacked out. We scored two runs in the bottom half, but with the tying run on second and two outs, our opponents shut us down.


Running through one of the industrial sprinklers on the Mall with Hev, Captain McDreamy, and Ting-a-ling.

Getting pantsed while playing flip cup and standing there in my tighty whities. That’ll learn me to do my laundry more often.

Doing SoCo and lime shots at the bar with my whole team.

The fall season starts in three weeks. I think I’m getting too old for this shit.

Is There Such a Thing as Too Competitive?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A few items to update readers on, each one too small to discuss at length but noteworthy enough to mention:

(1) Instead of using real names, I'm going to use nicknames for friends and family so as to protect your anonymity. If you have one you'd like me to use for you, e-mail me. Otherwise I choose them.

(2) Saw Superman Returns last night with Baby Bien. Here's a tip: don't drink two beers before sitting down for this marathon of a flick. I don't care how strong you think your bladder is, you'll need to get up for a break. Second tip: use the scene when Superman and Lois are talking about their feelings to make a bathroom run. Don't worry, all you'll miss is a lot of sappy moments that would make a Meg Ryan movie look substantive.

(3) My kickball team is in the final four tonight; if we win the first game, we play for the championship. It may "only" be kickball and it may not matter, but any event involving a winner and loser seems to bring out my competitive side, so I really want this.

(4) Blue went "all the way to the Hamptons" this past weekend, where he and Berkie took a break from city living to frolic in the ocean. Too bad Blue's got the coordination of a tetherball pole because his leg bent the wrong way while trying to carry his woman into the water and a wave crashed his shins. A visit to the hospital and he may have an ACL tear; My first thought, though, was, "Hmm, a Hamptons hospital. Were there any patients there who weren't white?" Blue says no.