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2002: It's All Relative
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2009: Gulliver and the Lilliputians
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Books Read in 2010
Recipes for Cousins Day Drinks
(updated 3/17/10) And Then I Ate
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ME IN DC
17 April 2010
Last night at dinner we were talking with Mike and Char about things DC. They have a son who lives there with his wife and children, Walt has family living there, I have friends who live there, so we have been in the nation's capitol many times. In fact, it's one of those town I feel comfortable enough to give tours of to people. I don't know it intimately, but I can get around on the Metro very well. I can take you to all the important spots and maybe show you some places or things you didn't know existed. I enjoyed giving the grand tour to Peach when we took her there several years ago.
The last time I was in DC my blogging friend Bozoette Mary took me to the Native American museum, which had not been there when I last visited the town. Now there is the Newseum, which I've heard is really cool, and didn't exist on my last visit. I want to see that, and may actually have a chance later this year, as we will be in the DC area to attend the wedding of Walt's cousin's daughter, the lovely Kayleen.
This morning, Mary made a reference to some of her "favorite buskers" in DC and I just had this wave of memory wash over me of the six weeks I lived and worked in Washington, DC. I fondly remember the Peruvian buskers that played at the top of the escalator to Dupont Circle, my metro stop each day. It was such fun riding the escalator out of that deep, deep hole in the ground and hearing those guys playing their pan flutes. I still have their CD, in fact. I wonder what happened to the street guy I gave $5 to on my last day in town--only to discover that it was the LAST $5 I had and I feared I might have to ask for it back in order to get home (but I found a work-around).
I have many fond memories of my time there, including discovery of the Phillips gallery, and accidentally eating at one of the most expensive eateries in Washington, when I had actually been directed to the hot dog stand next door, but had wandered into the wrong place (fabulous risotto--it was the only thing on the menu I could afford!)
With all the good memories, though, I have to admit that those six weeks rank right up there among the worst periods in my life, perhaps #4 behind the weeks after Paul's and David's deaths and the time after Gilbert's death. A friend I had known for many years -- let's call her Ann (those who have known me for awhile know who I'm talking about; those who haven't have no need to know) -- had relocated to Washington with her paramour and her kids, after a messy divorce from an alcoholic husband. About her lover let me just say that I don't have enough negative things to say about his treatment of...well, just about everybody, but I leave that up to him and them to discuss. I will only talk about his relationship with me during that horrible six weeks.
Ann was pregnant with Lover Boy's (I so want to call him "Shit Face") child and was concerned about what was going to happen to her job when she went on maternity leave. She was still fairly new at the job and had not yet developed the self confidence that she would develop later in life. She suggested that I come to DC and work for the six weeks, which we both figured would be the ideal situation because I would be living with her and Lover Boy (at the time I didn't realize what a creep he really was) and she would be there to guide me through every step of the job. She also got them to agree to give me the same salary she was making, significantly more than I was making here in Davis. It seemed ideal and with wide-eyed innocence, I flew to DC. In retrospect, it was like one of those horror movies where the girl decides to open the door to the basement and the audience, knowing of the monster that is lurking in the dark, all wants to scream "DON'T GO DOWN THERE!"
I visited DC shortly before the baby was born and got to visit the office, meet my immediate supervisors and get introduced to the guard who would have to let me in each day. We decided that Ann would give me an orientation to the office and my job duties when I returned after the baby was born, and, as the time progressed, she would be there by telephone to help me all along the way and we could go over things at night after work.
The baby was born and I flew to DC a couple of days later. The plan was to go to the office on Saturday to get an orientation to the place and show me what I needed to know to hit the ground running and ensure a seamless transition from her to me. Only on Saturday, Lover Boy decided he wanted to go to Atlantic City instead (I seem to remember it's about a 3 hour drive one way). Ann had learned long ago never to contradict him, so off we went, Ann and LB, me, her adult daughter, and the newborn baby, to the Trump Taj Majal. Ann was less than a week out of the hospital following a cesarean, the baby was only a week old but LB wanted to gamble. For the entire. day. LB and the daughter gambled, Ann and I walked the corridors of the Taj Majal because the only place you could SIT in that damn place was in the bar or in the casino and neither was a good place for a newborn. I remember Ann changing his diaper on the hood of the car and finally going into a bar so she could give him a bottle.
After six hours of driving and several hours of gambling, there was obviously no way that I was going to get into the office that day.
I don't remember what the excuse was the next day either, but the end result was that I would start work on Monday with NO orientation. I didn't even know where to find paper for the printer and had no clue what Ann's daily schedule included. Of course everybody assumed that Ann, who was a well-respected and valued employee, would have given me an orientation and I didn't want to ruin her reputation by telling them that I had NO orientation whatsoever, so I just stumbled along trying to do it all blindly.
In fact, I did that pretty much for six weeks. I have never figured out what was going on in Ann's head but she seemed to do whatever she could to ensure that my time there would be a disaster. She wouldn't give me any help at all, barely answering my questions. I stopped calling her altogether because my quesions only seemed to irritate her and never got answered. Things got worse and worse and obviously the superiors thought that they had hired a real idiot.
At one point I finally found a job I could do and made a handbook for several of the people who were having difficulty learning Word Perfect, a program I knew intimately. It was the ONE thing I did that I felt proud of and I even got some grudging praise from the big boss. Happy with my accomplishment, I brought it home and Ann tossed it aside and said "I don't know why you did this...I did the same thing a month ago."
But as bad as the job was, the worst part was Lover Boy. We lived several miles from the metro and I needed to take the metro into work every day. Lover Boy would drop me off on his way into work. Only he refused to let me into or out of the car without kissing him on the lips. I hated it. But again, I didn't want to put Ann in more stress than she was already in, dealing with a fussy newborn at a time in her life when she thought she had finished raising a family and had stated that she was NOT going to have another child. So I didn't say anything to her.
I remember one evening, waiting for Lover Boy to pick me up at the metro, and deciding to pretend to be very busy with the work I had brought home with me when I got into the car, so that I would "forget" to kiss him. But my plan backfired. I found myself in a speeding car (he always drove MUCH too fast) with Lover Boy not looking out the window, but leaning over with those huge lips demanding his kiss.
At home he would walk behind my chair and run his fingers across my back. I got to where I was so terrified of him that I would barricade my bedroom door with my luggage and a chair at night before I went to sleep. Two weeks before the end of my imprisonment there, I remember being on the phone with Walt, crying because I was so afraid of Lover Boy but not wanting to hurt Ann by telling her what was going on.
It's not that I was any beauty. I was fat and awkward and unattractive, whereas Ann was slim and beautiful. But I think that he did all these things to make her feel bad (he did that a lot), which is why I didn't tell her about it at the time. (Later on a trip out here, he propositioned another one of her friends, inviting her to join him at his hotel. He knew full well that she would tell Ann about it--and she did.)
Our friendship survived that terrible ordeal. I finished the six weeks, the boss took me to lunch on my last day, but I know that he only did it because he felt he should. I had done an abominable job and we both knew it.
Ann and Lover Boy eventually decided to live in separate homes, and she came to see him for the rat that he was (though he is still in her life because he is the father of their child), but even at that time, all those years later, when I tentatively told her about how awful it had been for me during those six weeks, she still did not respond, apologize, or acknowledge my feelings about how it had gone during that terrible time period.
The "baby" is in college now. Ann and I are rarely in contact these days. The friendship is not dead, but it hasn't been the same in a very long time. If I see her when we are in DC this year, we will pick up where we left off. We always do. But there is a part of me that will never forget how my attempt to help her out of a bad situation turned so terribly, terribly bad for me.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Dupont Circle Metro Station