Friday, August 26, 2005

Hijo de Puta!

In the liquor store, the guy in front of me is checking his lottery tickets. Maybe 4 or 5.
He looks back and forth at the tickets, the numbers and then mutters to no one in particular: "Hijo de puta!". I guess he didn't win.

The car alarm I could hear coming from the truck carrying cars on two levels. I drove more quickly to escape the sound, thinking about the driver stuck with it for a 1000 miles.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Images of a day in town

The toddler in front of the posh hotel, on 16th street, 100 meters from the White House, pants down, peeing in the flower pot. His dad was standing next to him, the doors of a SUV opened right beside them. Incongruous image in a posh neighborhood

The french kid at the museum who was bored and kept telling his dad that he wanted to go upstairs. "Je veux aller la-haut! Je veux aller la-haut". The dad kept dragging him in rooms filled with French impressionists paintings.

The guy in the line for the movie who started talking to us about the different gardens to visit around DC. I think he though we were tourists.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Color blind

The new DC tourist center, right in front of the Hard Rock Cafe. The place is brightly lit with Arabic music blasting.
Toward the back of the store, there is a display of figurines representing soldiers. Soldiers standing, carrying a bag, a gun, saying goodbye (or hello!) to their loved ones. I noticed that there are white soldiers kissing white women and black soldiers embracing black women but no interracial couple is depicted. Also no Asian, nor Hispanic soldiers.
There are clearly wars that remain to be fought.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

DC car inspection

A short walk after dinner and before getting to work. I'm on my way to the zoo and strolling down one of the neighboring streets. Right at the door of one of the row houses is a man walking slowly and cautiously toward the street. He is gripping a cane and every single of his movements seems painful. As I pass in front of him nodding "good evening", he calls me. "Would you mind looking at the stickers on this car and telling me if it passed inspection?" There is only one car parked in front of his house. A black chevrolet that looks at least 10 years old. I look on the driver side. The registration sticker is OK. I read the date aloud "Valid to end of October 2005". He looks at me. "The other side. The other sticker!" I go around the car examining the red sticker. "Yes, this one too. August 2007. You're all set!". He seems genuinely surprised, commenting aloud "It passed inspection, then, it passed inspection.."
This is DC. Every car passes inspection.

Monday, August 15, 2005

You owe me

Yesterday was the last representation of "The Persians" so I went to see it. A friend works at the theater and got me a ticket. 3 PM, the heat outside is murderous so I'm glad to escape in the cold rows of the theater. A space reclaimed from an old theater that escaped demolition.
I sat down next to a couple, the guy is on my left.
The play begins and it becomes clear that it is not his cup of tea. He tries to pay attention but very soon, start reading the playbill (many times over), rolls it up, look through it as if through a telescope. His girlfriend, gently but firmly, takes the playbill from his hands. Almost immediately, he is moving his legs up and down, vibrating his knee at large speed. Her hand calms him a bit.
He looks at his watch, then hers.
I guess he does not like the play and frankly I can't blame him entirely. I'm not a fan of political theater. It's always too rough, too naive and didactic. This adaptation is a perfect example of the problems of such production. It's so politically neophyte that it is touching.
I'm not sure, though, that my neighbor has political or theatrical objections to the play. He just looks bored out of his mind. He looks at his girlfriend with an air that says "You owe me one, baby!" She seems to agree and smiles in return.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Argentina! Argentina!

I'm at the Barnes and Noble with some friends, hanging out at the cafe there before the movie show time. We're drinking and talking and enjoying ourselves when my friend points to a man wearing a stripped blue and white soccer jersey. "From Greece?" he asks to no one in particular. My soccer knowledge is at the ready. "Nop. Argentine" I answer adding "I think" to soften my complete assurance in the subject. He argues. We decide to bet.
As we are ready to leave, my friends are already reaching the escalator down when I turned back and walk up to the man. "Is this Argentine?" I ask pointing to his jersey. A huge smile across his face and an answer with a thick Hispanic accent: "Yes! Argentina! Argentina!".
I smile back and hurry back to my friends.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

The wise one

I'm in the Italian store in Cleveland Park that sells the best everything Italian you ever want. I'm here to pick up some pizza dough before heading out to a movie. The place is completely packed and the wait seems to be quite long. "How fast is the line?" I turns around to see who asked me the question and see a woman about 50/60 years old, holding a large paper bag.
I shrug "Define fast" I answer with a smile. I've not moved for the 2 minutes I've been in the store but by Italian standard, this is normal. "The time it would take for what is in the bag to melt". The place has no AC and a small ceiling fan is the only device brassing the air. It's really hot.
I point toward the freezer containing the stuff that they sell. "Why don't you put your stuff in there while you're waiting?" I suggest. The woman is beyond herself with relief. "This is an excellent idea!" she shouts while opening the door of one of the closest freezer and stashing her bag in there. "Oh! Please keep that door opened! It feels so good." It's a young man, with a shy smile. "What is in the bag, anyway?" I ask the woman. She smiles guiltily "Dove ice cream". "Well yeah, these melt fast" says the young man. They start to talk about the different kinds of Dove ice creams. Apparently there are "ice cream bites". "You can pop one or two" when you're back home from work, she is saying. "One or two?" the young man answers, "I'd need several of those! Probably more like 8". He is so skinny I'm not sure where he could put 8 ice creams. Even bite size ones. The line is progressing and the young man disappears to order pizza. Soon it is my turn. As I am paying, the woman reaches the cashier on my left and is ordering what sounds like "spinach agnolini". The cashier seems to know her for she asks "No pizza today?" As she declines, I turn around to say "They even know you here! Are you a regular?" The woman smiles and says "Well, indeed they know me. Maybe I'll order the pizza after all". I feel she wants to do it as a proof of her loyalty to the shop.
As I am ready to leave, she wave at me "Bye, the wise one!".
No one ever called me that before. Wisdom dispensed for a bag of Dove ice cream bars.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Personal post

I usually don't post anything personal but today is the 4th anniversary of my obtaining a Green Card. In 275 days I will be allowed to apply for citizenship -- yes indeed I am counting the days.
Those who read the blog regularly know that I do love this country (even if I can see its problems -- but which country has none?).
I will never renounce my French citizenship but look forward to the day I can vote here. In my adopted homeland.

Money, money, money

I stopped to get some gas and buy the paper on my way from work. As I am ready to pay for the paper, the guy points to a sign posted on the right. The sign says "$100,000 Powerball ticket sold here!"
I read it aloud and look back at him asking for a ticket. A quick pick for $1. He seems happy, it seems that was exactly the reaction he wanted. I ask "So, did you get a cut?" He laughs answering "Sure! I got $ 1,000 and my friend here got $1,000 too!". They both laugh and it is clear that he is joking. I answer smiling "The guy got 100 K, he could spare 2 for you!" and leave the store. A tall black guy was right behind me in line. He gets out of the store as I am ready to leave, walking to his car, right in front of mine. "So you want to win the lottery too?" He seems surprised. I laugh "Sure, I would not mind! Would you? I mean, we can all use a little bit of extra cash!" He has to agree and nods "Yeah, I know what you're saying".
I'm still not sure why he seemed so surprised at first.