Saturday night we went dancing at Ozio on M street. I had called her Saturday afternoon just to say hello. She asked, What are you doing now? Just sitting here smoking a cigar, I said. It's about to rain like a mofo. She said, I'm in my car driving home, but I can be at your place in 30 minutes. Stop smoking. Let's go out to a bar for drinks and we can smoke together.
I'm smoking a cigar. You like cigars? I thought you only liked cigarettes?
No, I love cigars. Get dressed. I'll see you in half an hour. Beep.
We headed downtown to 18th and M around 9 o'clock - still early. She had an apple martini and I had my usual. We headed up to the top floor. A party was happening. Everyone was young, hip and urban except us. She's a white Russian. I kept forgetting she hadn't really done the urban thing until she whispered THERE ARE SO MANY BLACK MEN HERE. I almost choked on my Ashton. Well, yes. This is downtown DC, after all. Waitress? I'll have another. And she definitely needs another.
Things didn't really get rolling until eleven, when a few couples started dancing. Half an hour of techno, then half an hour of dance, then the rest of the time was hip hop and urban dance. The sound system was deafening, but it was fun. Sonic waves rearranged several of my more important organs. By midnight everyone was on the dance floor, and several martinis later Marina was on top of her game.
Having almost white hair and being about 5'7" and 110 lb with a very narrow waist, she received her share of stares, but she stayed with me for the entire evening. She adored dancing and enjoying the American experience.
When we sat down, Marina had a funny look on her face when several young white women began freaking with the black brothers out there. I didn't think much about it, but when I looked over at Marina's face, she was obviously uncomfortable. Are you okay? She said, I feel dizzy. Can we go now?
Outside the club, our ears adjusted to the deafening silence. She took my arm and moved close. You are not afraid here? No, Marina. We'll be fine.
Those dances were just too sexually suggestive for me, she said. They don't dance this way in St. Petersburg. Or perhaps they do now. It's been a long time since I went dancing. Perhaps Vitaly and his girlfriend dance like this. I can't think about this now.
We walked to the car. Young revelers played under the streetlights as if it was daytime. She loved the city. Is like St. Petersburg or Moskva, she said. On weekends, always the young people they are dancing.
Last night's dinner party was the completely opposite experience. It was suburban fun, if you're part of the wealthy elite. Miss Vah needed a dinner date. It was the first time she'd been back to Victoria Farms since her divorce. She had to sell her mansion and move to Reston.
It was a progressive dinner party, the sort of party you have when you live in a friendly suburban neighborhood. Vah was cooking the main meal. I joined her at the second house. The driveway was two hundred yards long at the end of which sat a fairly modest 5 or 6 bedroom two story house with a cedar shingled roof.
The men were all good looking and gregarious. The women were all tony and interesting. It's a stereotype, but it's true, I swear to god. They made me laugh. The owner of the house was a former "DASD", which every good Pentagon employee knows means Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. I almost choked on my pulled pork and plum sauce. He was so normal. The guy next to him was a riot - an good Irish Catholic with a twinkle in his eye and a vice president of a large engineering firm in this area. He went to the University of Alabama during the Bear Bryant years.
An icy blonde had caught my eye earlier on that evening. Vah and I were sitting in the kitchen close to the dessert - Asian pears, made with bourbon and maple syrup, sprinkled with some green mint. It was fantastic. We were chatting quietly when the icy blonde walks over and introduces herself. She was tall and thin, a product of the 1970s version of San Francisco.
The glacial facade melted when she began talking about music. Turns out we both love The Band. When I said I adored The Weight, she actually smiled and opened up a bit. She began telling stories of her past. When she was 19, she'd nannied for one of the musicians in Yes, a popular instrumental band of that era. She had loads of funny stories to tell from the wild years in London. She enjoyed finding someone to talk with about music, instead of career, family, and all the other things she was too bored to talk about.
Vah was a good schmoozer and mingler, and she encouraged me to do the same. We mingled and met a bunch of new people. Linda, who had worked for United Airlines for so long she still called herself a Stew. She worked the international flights. Travel was her passion. Dave, who was taking a sabbatical to Asia for two months. B--, a chief engineer who worked on classified stuff. Tom's daughter, a cute little Chi Omega sorority sister at USC. The girls were buying Coach this year. Kate Spade is so two years ago. The well heeled sorority girls were wearing Steve Madden shoes. I know this only because I have daughters of my own.
The evening was cool and the wine was in plentiful supply. Vah knows her wines. I tried a glass of red - to me there is only red wine or white, and I cannot differentiate any further than this without lying through my teeth - but before I could get the glass to my lips, Vah asked was this the Spanish merlot? I said, Hell if I know. She said, because if it is, it goes down smooth, but in 30 seconds it will kick you in the ass. Another guy at the table was just about to drink his when he heard this, and said, but it got an 80+ rating.
That's not too good in this crowd. He knows his wines too, but he was checking Vah's reactions. It was easy to underestimate her. She's a good looking woman, very young looking. She shouldn't know wines as well as she does, but she was raised in Europe and attended her parents' wine tasting parties since before she was old enough to drink. The girl knows wines. She wrinkled her cute little nose. 86? God. That is swill. She said it like it was a fact. Mike smiled. Okay, she's good.
I said what the hell. Took a sip. Smoothe, just like Vah said. A bit of a cigarry finish, smokey. Everyone looked at me. 30 seconds later came the kick. Let me tell you, that was some kick. It was like Spanish fly on afterburners. I broke into a sweat and had some more fried rice, hoping to dilute the effects of this rocket fuel. Looked at Vah. She smiled. Told you. You should never doubt me.