i let evan start her day at six a.m. while i rolled over and grabbed a couple more hours of sleep. ah, to sleep in on a weekday! i did eventually peel myself out of bed, freshen up, and set out to find trouble. here i come!
i’ve only been to dc in the sweltering summer months or in the bitter cold winter of december, so i was ecstatic that i only needed a light windbreaker this trip. after a quick walk to the metro, two stops, and a short stroll, i arrived at the corner of fifth and east capitol at one of evan’s favorites, jimmy t’s place. i had asked her for a breakfast recommendation last night and this spot is what she suggested. just as i opened the door, i remembered reading that they only take cash, so i hopped across to the local convenience store to use their atm. i returned to jimmy t’s, loaded, and plopped down at a table in their front rotunda.
as i shed my coat and settled in, i couldn’t help but think that this place reminded me of another. but where? ah, that’s right! gilchrist in mountain brook, alabama, a lovely little neighborhood of birmingham. my mom had taken us there all the time when we were younger for egg salad sandwiches (very childhood memory, yes?), milkshakes, and french fries. it is a classic diner that doesn’t seem to have aged at all, and jimmy t’s could be its long-lost cousin, i swear. although a bit more bare-boned, jimmy t’s is welcoming and should put a smile on your face. there are old-school milkshake machines, the daily specials scribbled on whiteboards, and a single chef behind the counter holding her own. it had to have been a soda fountain back in the 70s.
the waiter arrived to welcome me, bring my utensils, and take my order. water to start, please, and then, upon evan’s friend’s recommendation, the corned beef hash plate. we need to pause for a little true confessions moment: i love corned beef hash. it is salty and savory and something i don’t keep in the house for fear of overindulgence. i love the out-of-the-can stuff (that has a week’s worth of sodium intake), but today i enjoyed homemade, slow-cooked corned beef hash aanndd…i just flicked egg yolk on my notebook. whoops!
the eggs and toast were quite standard, which allowed the hash to be the star. the beef was tender and stringy, just as it should be since it was in the crock pot all night. the chunky potatoes were also well done, and a bite of it all together really was quite something and was even better when souped up with some runny egg yolk. yyeess. if you don’t care for or have never had corned beef hash, please be adventurous and try it the next chance you get.
as i worked through my plate, i relaxed, listened to the sounds of the band chicago over the radio (“25 or 6 to 4” anyone?), and watched the locals bustle in and out. this place looks quite unassuming from the street, so i’m glad i had been told to go; i might not have otherwise! the service has been friendly and prompt yet not overbearing. and for a place that has been around since 1969, they are still doing a lot right.
and in case you were wondering, this is what a breakfast graveyard looks like. crushed it!
i hadn’t really decided where to go next, so it was a happy encounter that i walked right by the folger shakespeare gallery on east capitol. i’m not a shakespeare buff by any definition, but i’d never been and decided today was as good a day as any.
i found myself at the welcome desk after pushing through the double-doors. i stopped to ask the gentleman for a little direction in exploring the exhibition, yet he looked confused. i was speaking english, wasn’t i? he responded with another question: “are you a washingtonian?” um, what? do people not just ask “are you from around here?” anymore? guess not…i explained i was a visitor just dropping in to take a look. although he still seemed unsure of why i was here, he gestured to the great hall. i took his hint and promptly showed myself that way. thanks, i think…?
the exhibition was titled “shakespeare’s the thing,” a celebration of 450 years of shakespeare. to explain, and exactly quote the pamphlet i picked up, “materials in the exhibition explore four types of interactions: fixating on, editing, performing, and depicting shakespeare and his works…’shakespeare’s the thing’ gathers a broad range of responses to a man who spoke not just to his age but to all time.” well-written, wouldn’t you agree?
the great hall was actually smaller than i thought it might be, but several things interested me in my time there. first, did you know that the obsession with all things shakespeare actually has a term? it’s called “bardolatry.” who knew! well, i suppose all the shakespeare scholars out there knew…
it was also kind of fun to read about the first folio and the droeshout portrait. although commonly referred to as the first folio, the 1623 published collection of 36 shakespearian plays is properly known as mr. william shakespeares comedies, histories, & tragedies. the first folio was actually prepared by shakespeare’s colleagues john heminges and henry condell many years after shakespeare’s death. the cover of the first folio displays perhaps the most famous depiction of shakespeare in the droeshout portrait. the artist martin droeshout was an english engraver whose fame rests completely on the fact that he made the title portrait for the first folio.
after exiting the folger shakespeare library, i continued west on east capitol (ha, west, east. it’s funny!), trying to decide my next destination. i had originally wanted to go to the martin luther king, jr. memorial, but it was a bit of a hike over there, and i wasn’t sure my fifteen dollar target flats could handle it. as i moseyed along, still unsure of where i was going, my eye was caught by some lawn sculptures to my left. “those look interesting,” i thought to myself.
i wound down the stairs and found out from the strategically placed information placard that i was in the hirshhorn sculpture garden. groovy. i followed the sidewalk and enjoyed the creations around me. i think a reason i enjoy art so much is because i feel like i lack any real artistic ability. i like being in the presence of works i can simply appreciate.
i had never been to, or even heard anyone talk about, the hirshhorn, so i decided i would explore here next. i followed the crowd to the entrance and had a much nicer encounter with the welcome kiosk at this museum. the gentleman politely introduced the different levels and exhibits and sent me on my way.
i rode the escalator to the second floor and began my journey through the damage control exhibit. to quote mikhail alexandrovich bakunin, “destruction is creation,” and that was the complete focus on this floor. the purpose of the entire exhibition is to depict society’s potential of destruction and the use of actual destruction in the creation of works of art. pretty powerful stuff.
the first gallery illuminates a wrecked baby grand piano, the ax still wedged, a ring of salt encircling the scene. from there the theme of destruction runs wild and abstract, from acrylic on canvas to silent film to destroyed yet produced camera film. i strolled around the circular second floor, admiring the creativity and free interpretations of the artists’ works.
after circling back to the start, i rode down to the lower level, my main desire to uncover the gravity’s edge exhibit, a presentation of “paintings, sculptures, and works on paper made between 1959 and 1978 that signal a postwar shift in approaches to abstraction.” if it sounds cool, that’s because it was. the different uses and expressions of colors and mediums was fun to see and made me smile as i exited the museum.
i figured it was time for more food (and drink), so i put my smart phone to use. i found a place called city tap house off 9th and made my way. i figured with a review like “best beer selection in town,” i couldn’t go wrong. i seated myself at the bar, ordered my ommegang hennepin, and began writing away. i also snagged a food menu from the group before me to decide what i should eat. i had decided on the hushpuppy appetizer to start, but i never really even had a chance to order. the two bartenders paid me no attention, really, and i was a bit off-put to be honest. maybe i’m a service snob, but i like my bartenders to know my name and be attentive. they were none of these things. so, as a sign of protest, i decided i would pay for my one beer, storm out of there, and take my business elsewhere. well, aren’t i just a drama queen? the bartender finally asked if i needed another, i replied “no, thank you. just the check,” and prepared myself for my grand exit. just as i readied my wallet for the bill, he said, “your beer’s on me tonight.” “wait!” i thought, “i’m supposed to be making a scene!” i politely thanked him, left a generous tip because, well, the beer was on the house, and tried to look cool and collected as i left.
people, this is the only soapbox i’ll hop on tonight, and here it is: service matters. that is all!
i had decided i would go to a place i had passed earlier, rfd, regional food and drink, to see if they had any game. upon entering it’s clear rfd is the local place, a spot with probably decent food and hella good times. the bartender addressed me as “ma’am,” although i’m not that old, and i knew we were in business. better yet, the beer i wanted, starr hill, was on the happy hour menu. i’ll take two!
yep, definitely the local watering hole. the folks around me are swearing like sailors, no shame whatsoever. heck yea!
i’ll give it to you straight: the food here, at least what i ordered, was mediocre (sorry, rfd!). the crab cake sandwich and fries i had were nothing to write home about, but sometimes it isn’t all about the food. i left rfd with a stomach-full and a couple beers in me and was perfectly content.
i took the metro back to potomac avenue to make our evening plans. natalie was getting ready to head out for a hot date at the jazz club (ooh la la!), taylor was ordering in chinese, and evan and i decided a nice, local dinner was just the ticket. we made the short stroll for vietnamese just a couple blocks away from the house. i love this kind of food, so i’m quite glad that’s what we would be eating. we quickly decided on wontons and bowls of vermicelli. YUM.
evan and i grew up together, first meeting through her younger sister sarah, with whom i actually went to grade school. our families were the best of friends in no time, and although we’re quite spread out these days, we stay in touch when we can. evan and i caught up on anything and everything going on in our lives, and it made me realize how lucky i am to have such a dear friend.
the wait staff brought our wontons to start, and we wasted no time in helping ourselves to them. i yielded no warning at all and swiftly popped one into my mouth, slightly burning my tongue with the first bite. but boy, were they tasty! the sweet and spicy chili sauce was quite flavorful and really complemented the filling.
the hug servings of vermicelli also arrived, and my stomach almost instantly grumbled. i hadn’t eaten vietnamese in such a while, and this dinner is one of my favorites. the noodles were so springy and squishy, the chicken was grilled perfectly, yet the eggrolls were absolutely the highlight for me. i saved those bites until the last since they were the best. it’s no wonder evan comes here all the time. delicious food within walking distance really is a no-brainer.
we eventually packed up our leftovers and headed home. evan had asked me to help her look through some old boxes of keepsakes, and wouldn’t you know it! we found some wonderful photo albums hidden in there. without hesitation i tucked the albums under my arm, evan grabbed a bottle of white zinfandel and two glasses, and we headed to her room to reminisce about the good ol’ days. we spent the next hour laughing and crying over the wonderful fashion sense of the late 90s and our college days. it was a couple glasses of white zin later that we found ourselves shamelessly stalking our old classmates online. nothing like a trip down memory lane! and then, i suppose, also a shocking jolt into a reality that is somehow calling us actual adults. when did we let that happen?