Attack Of The Guitar Hero-ines
Art, beer and videoGames can lead to interesting circumstances
Article & Photos by Marcus Bird
Tonight is warm. I’m at Fight Club! A spot betwixt two large main roads in a back alley at a photo exhibition. This place feels like the scene from a really cool indie movie. The door to enter is a huge piece of Zinc, and inside has skateboard ramps, junk and lots of people that wish they were artists. DC people don’t dress artsy, nor do they act it. I talk to two girls while looking on a series of photographs that depict people in different perspectives of distance. “I’m weird.” One of them says. I ask her why, and she tells me she is weird simply because it is, like the Gulf War happening and socks always smelling bad at the wrong times. Her friend, who is at least six foot seven, agrees that she too is a bit weird. Actually, she said she felt like the person in another photograph parallel to the exhibit we were looking at. It was a clown in various areas in DC. She said she felt like the picture where the clown was sitting by himself in a train.
I didn’t get it.
I go outside to get some beer and schmooze with the attendants. The kegs aren’t working, and the beer is mostly foam, but I smile and make sure to tip them each time I come for another beer. At the bar, I get smiles from three average looking blonde girls, and this guy who looks like a German trapped in an American’s body. There is a skating room in this spot, a semi-cavernous area with ramps that allow boarders to skate on walls, the ceiling and wipeout in glorious 3d. Several of the very distracted photo exhibit patrons aren’t distracted in here. They are fixated with generous aplomb, watching skaters with tight pants threaten their skulls with possible concussions. I have a fond relation to skateboarding. A few years ago, I decided to become a professional skateboarder. I tried this for two years and then my knees began hurting unforgivably anytime I tried to Ollie. Now, like the distracted herd, I just watch.
By the wall is a tall girl, with a Winona Ryder 90's hair cut peering through a set of bars into the skate room (yes there is a window with prison style bars erected). I ask her a lame question, somewhere along the lines of: Are you a photographer? She laughs and says no, and I can see her features more clearly. A strong face, with high cheekbones, a straight nose and thin lips. I peg her to be European. “I am no a photo-grapher,” she says with a slight accent. I smile, my international travels haven’t failed me.
“Let me guess where you are from”, say with a wry smile. Her eyes open slightly wider, and I can see her brain sending calculations my way: 1) Who is this guy 2) How does he know I’m foreign 3) Why is he wearing a gay Euro shirt.
“You are from France,” I say. I actually think she’s German, but I say France to throw off the scary factor pegging her nationality right away might bring. “I’m from Germany,” she says. She laughs, showing a row of very straight teeth. Germany has good orthodontists. When I ask her what she’s doing in DC, she says, “Oh, I make marketing for a large car company.” I raise an eyebrow, feeling my playful side emerge like a rude kid in a unsupervised environment. “You ‘make’ marketing?” I say. “Did you ‘create’ industry as well?” Before she can respond, I grab her and laugh. “I’m just kidding!” I say with a big smile.
Four more times that night, I would say she “makes marketing”. It’s no longer just a playful jab at her English, it becomes our joke. A little insider thing that we’ll laugh about in a year when I meet up with her in Munich. I don’t know how, but it will happen. We will hug, drink strong beer and take a tour of the city, then when we become intimate, I will stand up in my underwear and proclaim “LET US MAKE SEX!”
Her English is actually very good, and a tall, intense German guy behind her seems very displeased that we are speaking. At some point, I go to get another beer. For a second, stepping outside feels like being in Jamaica. It is relatively warm, the sky is over head and I’m drinking in the presence of a lot of people. Back home we call these kinds of outings sessions, sans the psychiatrists and immediate diagnoses of Bi-polar disorder. I’m determined to get my money’s worth (its ten bucks all you can drink ) and I’m starting to get a light buzz. A slight drizzle comes down, and a girl in front of me says “Hey, do black girls drink beer?” (She is black). She is surrounded by five cute women. “Of course not! Black women drink mixed drinks!” I say with a laugh. Her friends laugh. Conversation ensues and I find out these ladies all went to school in Texas together. Like most conversations in Washington D.C after the first three questions, people start asking what each person does. The sequence is usually:
Hello how are you? Where are you from? What do you do?
I tend not to speak like that. I tell the girls that I don’t like asking people what they do seconds after meeting them, so one of them, a statuesque Mexican girl, improvises. “What’s your favourite color?” she asks. In the light drizzle, I’m temporarily taken back to high school, when things like “favourite movie”, “favourite color” and “what did you do today” plagued my phone conversations with girls. Everyone in the group chats about their favorite color. I initially say my favourite color is light blue, but after two minutes I realize currently its light purple. At this point, all five girls begin chatting about my shirt. “Purple would look great on you,” one says. “Thanks,” I reply.
The conversation goes in and out for a while. Everyone is lightly buzzed, and we are all talking about nothing in particular, and certainly nothing important. I tell the ladies I’ll be sorry to leave soon because I’m heading to Wonderland. “Wonderland? That’s where we are going!” they say with a twinkle. “Ah, it’s settled then, we are all going there!” I declare. At this point, a guy I know, Patrick comes in, and entertains the group with hilarious dynamics regarding African parents and the pressure that comes with Barack Obama being the President-elect. Putting on a faux Nigerian (or a real one depending on how you look at it), he says. “My mother would say, ‘Obama is now the president of the United States. You need to be President of a company.”
His voice is hilarious, but I realize now that in typewritten form these things might not come across as that funny. I run upstairs to take a tinkle and run into the roommate of a girl I once hooked up with. (Let’s call this girl Mercedes).“You know,” she says. “Mercedes went back to California.”
“Oh,” I replied. (Mercedes fell off the map several months ago, this revelation is news to me.) I chat to her for two minutes then head to the bathroom. There are about fifty people in line, and it isn’t moving. I have to find an alley. I run outside and find a little spot between two huge Garbage bins. It is sweet relief. In the near distance, I hear the chatter of a large group of girls. Its my crew. They are a little drunk, but still cute. Out of five girls, four of them are roughly five foot eight. They start walking in the opposite direction of the metro, but I tell them the correct way nicely. I’ve learned that some girls get unusually angry over trivial things if they are corrected, like the day’s date, their name and the location of obvious places. We play little games in the metro station while we wait for the train to come. It’s a thirteen minute wait, and we end up snapping at least two dozen pictures from two different cameras and I pick up two of the girls and playfully spin them around. On the train, we walk in all beer breath and loud laughs. The train is filled with people, and they all give us the “these people are drunk” eye. In a way, I probably was a little drunk. We take more pictures, with me lying in the laps of three of the girls, one girl danced on a pole, and another took a random picture with two guys chilling in the back. When we reach the Columbia heights metro stop, I speed up the escalator and run outside. Time to tinkle again. I find another quiet area between two large garbage pans again.
Tonight is quite random, but somewhat normal for me. I am a floater, like a little piece of flotsam on the sea. I head back to the metro station and take a quick look back down the steps of the escalator, but I don’t see the girls. I do a light jog to Wonderland, and I don’t see them in line. The bouncer knows me by face, and I try and break the line, and he forcefully (but in a friendly way) tells me I can’t cut the line. Its okay, and I go to the back, then see the girls appear in the distance. “Where did you go!” they said. “You ditched us!” the tall Mexican says.
In the line (as always), one of the girls sees someone she recognizes and they start talking. I’ve been in the line for five minutes before I realize that there usually is never a line at Wonderland. When I reach inside, the place is like a tiny rugby locker room with a full team inside. I’m holding the hand of one of the girls, the only one under five foot eight. She’s never been to Wonderland and I’m leading her to the bathroom to show her where it is. I exchange strange pleasantries with a guy in line, and the little one goes in. I see the others come inside, and head straight to the bar. In the line, the tall Mexican kept mentioning going back to her place and playing guitar Hero. It sounded like fun. Five girls in their jammies, playing Guitar hero till five in the morning, good times.
There were endless people upstairs. The music was good and everyone was dancing. I rarely dance these days, but tonight I danced with everyone. I had a moment with the tall Mexican against the wall on the stage where the DJ was. Dancing with the girl who asked “Do black girls drink beer?”, we hit the DJ deck and cause the music to stop for three seconds. I danced with the little one somewhere near the staircase. I did drunk Salsa with the other tall one (the third of four) somewhere near a coat rack. In the mix were several random (and oddly, short) girls. I ran into a few friends that I see every other week. These are people that pop up like the Men In Black. I could be in Dupont, Adams Morgan, George Town, or Kayaking on the Potomac. They would always roll by and say, “Wow Marcus, I see you everywhere!”
The rest of the night goes by in the usual blur. I am having a relatively good time, but I’m not ecstatic. My plan is working perfectly; that is, I planned to go to a photo exhibit and then probably hit up Wonderland afterwards. These girls were incidentals.
The girls say they are leaving. The Mexican mentions guitar hero again and her place. We leave, and I realize there are nine people now. Two very tall blonde guys are walking with us, as well as a short, strange-looking Ethiopian fellow. I don’t know where these guys came from, and what makes everything weirder is they aren’t speaking to any of us, just following behind. I found out the Ethiopian guy was a work colleague of the Mexican (or was it another one?) So he was in.
Its raining now, and a friend of mine is trying to get the play by play via phone. I foolishly keep texting him while rain drops are hitting the face of my phone. In a few minutes, the 4 and 9 button my phone stop working. Then, the phone starts mysteriously displaying random numbers on screen.
I can’t text, and the phone shuts off a few times. We have been walking for about fifteen minutes, when the Mexican says, “I hope you have a way home, I’m not bringing you home with me.” I almost paused (if it wasn’t raining and I hadn’t walked god knows how far). “What do you mean?” “You can’t come home with me,” she says in a sing-song voice. “It’s raining…,” I say. “I’ve walked home in the rain before,” she replies, with a sarcastic smile on her face.
For a second, I wonder what’s happening. I wasn’t even interested in the Mexican, from early on she said she had a boyfriend. A few seconds after she makes her declaration of No guitar hero and pillow-fighting with five cute girls, we cross the street and everyone (except me ) goes into an apartment building. I get upset for three minutes. I am upset mostly because my phone is not working, and it is raining and I don’t see any cabs. After three minutes, I laugh to myself. I’ve been in worse situations. Getting ditched by a few drunk girls a few steps from their doorway is child’s play. But I really wanted to play some guitar hero.