A couple of weeks later Reporter invited Callie and me to the National Press Club annual New Year’s Eve party. Callie picked me up the morning of, just as I realized I had the stomach flu. I couldn’t even stomach Dunkin’ Donuts French Vanilla coffee at the rest stop. This was serious.
Reporter was setting Callie up on a blind date. While I was sick as a dog, I didn’t want to disappoint everyone. Being oversensitive to guilt got the majority vote over potential public vomiting and I decided I was going to this party no matter what.
We met Reporter at The Bombay Club for dinner. Callie’s date would join us later at the Press Club. Surprisingly The New Year’s Eve price fixe menu read even more unappetizing as their regular one. Aloo Tikki Chaat? Paneer Tamater Kut?
I was going to have to come clean about being sick to Reporter. It took all I could to not vomit from the descriptions. I couldn’t be held responsible if one was actually presented to me.
Visibly annoyed, Reporter told the waiter that I would not be ordering. He put on his best gentleman etiquette when the waiter said with or without food, my seat for the evening cost seventy-five dollars. I offered to pay. This was an insult and Reporter pretended this mess of epic upper-crust proportions didn’t just happen.
I was too embarrassed to talk. It was only their second meeting, and it turned out that Reporter and Callie lacked rapport.
Reporter courteously asked her benign questions like what her major was. Callie courteously answered. They respectfully asked each other their opinion on the potential Y2K disaster. Heads nodded and hands were clasped politely in their laps. I silently wished I could puke on demand so there would be an excuse to end this labored conversation.
Callie’s blind date was a paralegal with a big law firm. Paralegals in most major cities are recent college graduates who are looking for some experience and references while they study for the LSAT. Paralegal, while he had aspirations of law school, wasn’t ready to pull the trigger yet. Unfortunately, he had worked so many years at this pit-stop job that a rumor started that he was accepted to law school and leaving soon.
He hadn’t taken the LSAT, or applied to law schools, but was too embarrassed to correct his colleagues. So, Paralegal pretended it was all true, quit his job, thrown a surprise going away party and off he went to “law school.”
We met Paralegal at the crowded bar and ordered some drinks. While he and Callie were talking, I dashed Reporter’s dreams of making the rounds and rubbing elbows with the D.C. media glitterati for the evening; I told him I was miserable and had to sit down. Reporter was gentlemanly about it, and we found a quieter room off to the side where we sat the rest of the night. He barely left my side except to refill my sparkling water.
Unfortunately, Paralegal left Callie’s side halfway through the evening when he excused himself to go to the restroom and never returned. Reporter checked the bathroom and the rest of the party. Paralegal had disappeared.
We later learned that Paralegal had his Oprah “a-ha” moment on the way to the restroom.
He was gay.
He never made it to the communal commodes. Paralegal ran out of the National Press Club to process his newfound homosexuality. He probably also realized that he missed out on the gay pride parade by six months.
It turned out Callie was okay being ditched. Another friend of Reporter had sat down in Paralegal’s seat, and they were really hitting it off. He was regaling the table with his best pick-up strategies.
The most effective one was asking where a girl was from and then telling her that he used to work the pool at the Super 8 in her hometown.
Since this crappy hotel is is in Everytown, America, Norman Bates knew that by making any sort of connection, albeit false, the girl was more likely to sleep with him.
Callie did.The next morning when I woke up at Reporters I was still feeling crappy but resolved to get my second wind and bring in New Year’s Day with Reporter right. I went to the bathroom to pull myself together. I looked over at the toilet seat where one of Reporter’s roommates had clogged the toilet. It was literally overflowing with whiskey sh#ts.
I vomited in the sink and left without enjoying a proper goodbye with Reporter.
I blew it.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!