T for Tom

There Are People Who Care, Pt. I

Posted in Uncategorized by johnsontoms on May 31, 2011

There are people who care.  They may not know why they care, what it means for them to care, or even know that they care at all, but they do exist.  Do not let the light of your hope go out before you find these people.  It takes a search sometimes, or other times they walk right up and ask for a cigarette.

The latter happened to me late late Sunday night in Adams-Morgan, D.C., a suburb of the District of Columbia area.  I had been visiting the Capitol for a few days on my pass from the base and found no better way to spend my weekend than walking the steps of great political cathedrals.  On this particular night though we had made our way to Adams- Morgan for the second time, having decided through exhaustive exploration that the area was our best chance for a good drinkin’ time.  Surprisingly in fact, D.C. has not much in the way of voluminous drinking districts, or so we could find, yet this one area on the northeast side of town had something in the way of Austin’s Sixth Street.  Every bit as quirky too.

Bonnye had suggest a place called MAdam’s Organ, which doesn’t take much to decipher is a entendre of the locale.  I didn’t even get in the door before I heard a band covering “How’s About You”, and a wonderful rendition of the Rolling Stones’s “Dead Flowers” would follow.  When combined with the spectral atmosphere of red christmas lights, nude paintings, random taxidermy, and stairs so canted you’d feel like falling, it was all I could do to contain my joy.  The band consisted of five members, Sarah & the Tall Boys it was, each a master of their craft.  The pedal steel cried throughout the walls and tt goes without any surprise to say that I spent much of the time dancing with the women in the bar, and having a good time of it.

What saddened me during all of this was the people’s inability to dance.  I can’t find a better way to say it, because I don’t want to knock on anyone who’s at least moving their feet to the music, but there was no indication that anyone in the D.C. area had any idea how to dance.  What was most shameful was that, when halfway through a tune and tired of stepping on feet, would often resort to just jumping around.  There’s a time and a place for that, but during Merle Haggard’s “I’ll Just Sit Here and Drink,” one need not mosh.  There was one moment where, rather than bounce around obnoxiously, the person next to me decided to do his best Texan impression by grabbing the invisible belt buckle and cowboy hat and proceed to kick around.  I let him know that I was offended (kidding of course), but the most amazing thing happened next.  The cute pint-sized female that was with this group immediately seized the opportunity to introduce herself, ask me the proper way to dance, and proceed to show her.  Her excitement glowed on her face when she went to ask me what I was doing in town, when I had moved there, and when I could take her and her friends line dancing all before I could speak.  So, when I did and explained that I was visiting, didn’t live there, and was military, it deflated immediately.  There literally was a washing away of her smile and it seemed as if the conversation was dead thereto.  I am not saddened by any of this, but use it as an illustration of the way things may come to be for me for some time now, and wish her only the best as she attempts to learn to dance.  “Quick-quick-slow-slow,” was all I told her to remember, and I pray she does.  Maybe some good came from that encounter after all.

The reverse of this happenstance is the one I alluded to in the introduction of this article.  The night went long as the band played three sets, each time broken up by cigarettes outside where I learned the bandmembers were from Chicago, had been traveling south and eastward, and were delighted to know that someone in the D.C. area could pick out the songs from their repertoire.  During that conversation we both expressed our bewilderment that just above the wonderful bars and chandeliers of Madam’s Organ’s first floor was a dancefloor and DJ where the typical scene was set: dancefloor, men and women fabricating attractions, and shots flowing.  As it would turn out, this would become the longest lasting scene in the night and that’s where I would stay, if only to meet more people.  And one came along.

I didn’t even get her name.

But as I stood outside the front door at 3am, not even holding a grin, up walked the most beautiful girl who asked me for a cigarette.  I didn’t have any out so it could of been my aura or her need that drove the connection.  Whatever it was, I supplied her request and we went on to share a cigarette.  What was best was the conversation we shared too.  She was a teacher of 7th grade English, a lower-class school were the children were underprivileged.  It didn’t take more than two questions to learn that she was passionately upset that children there had no desire to engage their minds and that by the time anyone reaches college, if they get there, they have no inclination toward a liberal education that teaches to be a human being, much less a trained professional.  Of course you don’t have to look any further than down this blog to see that it lit me up like a whorehouse to hear these words.  We were shortly interrupted and she left to meet her roommate before I could finish the conversation.  It was here that I saw her walking away and couldn’t help but run up again.

“I don’t think you understand, I haven’t had this type of conversation in five months, I want nothing more than to just keep talking,” I said when I reached her. “Did you stumble into education?” I asked.  I meant to see if she had other interests and was only teaching for lack of better options.  Her answer rambled on and on about how her parents always stressed education, and when she never actually came to a point I realized here that she didn’t have much in the way of working knowledge of what she was saying, only that her passion was guiding her to do well.  That I suppose is well in and of itself enough.

She eventually found her friend and went her separate way.  But I’ll never forget the girl with the short black hair, sharp face, dark skin, and deeply fixated cat-like eyes, short enough to be a girl but fit enough to be a woman.  It was refreshing to know that there are gorgeous women in the sea of madness, and some of them own meaning inside of their selves.  It was nice to know there are people who care.

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