Thursday, May 27, 2004

Excursions, pt. 2 (Delicious Invasion)

Which would you rather hear: the story of a good date, or the story of a horrible train wreck of a bad date? Yeah, I know. The latter are a lot more interesting.

Two nights ago, Adam and I went out to dinner with one of his former advisers, a man whose majestically deep voice and penchant for slipping into exquisite French (or sometimes Italian) make him sound like a caricature of the oily, seductive professor. Trust me, though, the effect is charming, at least in small doses. Unfortunately, the only thing I was dosing on that night was horse-strength Ibuprofen. Also, our disgruntled Siamese just had peed on a drawer’s worth of my clothes, so I had trouble feigning the right enthusiasm when hijacked for the dinner I’d been assured I could duck. Things got better after that, but not before I’d perversely contemplated wearing one of my cat-urine-soaked shirts—the better to ensure the evening would not be a long one.

If you vant to be alone, you have to have a strategy—especially when you’re as charismatic and in demand as I. (Wait. Did I say something funny?) And so it’s not surprising that, as a week-long trip with long-distance friends approached, I began to panic about having to spend all that time together. The only person I’ve ever traveled with (and tolerated) for that long is Adam, and he is apt to disappear behind a book for several hours each day.

Happily, it turns out, the only thing better than Dave and Jenn for an evening is Dave and Jenn for seven. Their intelligent wit flavors just as well by the tub as by the tube. Ours was a week of flavors, sweet and tangy enough to make me salivate for them later: Dancing through the Philly’s Italian Market. Dining on cheese and olives in Washington Square. Re-learning the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall through Canadian eyes. (“It’s amazing how many stories Americans tell about themselves.”) Riding in quiet companionship the hush of the D.C. Metro. Devouring Thai food and crêpes. Hiking Adams Morgan and the Washington Mall until our toes blistered and bled. Toasting to friendship and feet.

Meanwhile, our little get-together had as backdrop a far grander reunion. In the middle of night number one in D.C., I jolted awake to the buzzy thwack! ping! of an insect bouncing on the mattress beside my pillow. By morning, the sidewalks and streets writhed with the muttering hordes of cicadas, preoccupied with mating and death. Then, in apology for 17 years absence, they proffered themselves to the pigeons, a decadent, flailing, birdy-buffet.


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