Saturday, December 18 2021
location: upper floor, Apartment [REDACTED], East Watergate Building, Washington, DCYesterday I'd started out drinking tea and then transitioned to coffee, but it was coffee made by Gretchen's father from sources I couldn't track down. Today I only drank that coffee, and the reason I suspect it was probably decaf is that by this evening I'd developed the sort of headache that only comes from caffeine withdrawal.
At some point today, Gretchen got an email from a friend in the Hurley area saying that she had a neighbor who'd been irritating people in her neighborhood by flying a huge banner reading "FUCK BIDEN." Apparently this neighbor became so fed-up with the world that on Wednesday he drove up Dug Hill Road and shot himself in the head. It's important to note that the only public place people go to shoot on Dug Hill Road is the bus turnaround (a quarter mile below our house) and I'd heard some shooting with a very large gun down there on Wednesday. I don't know if he shot at targets for awhile before turning his gun on himself, but in any case he will never be shooting at the bus turnaround again. I don't think it will surprise you to learn that the reaction that Gretchen and I had on getting this news was one of delight. Hopefully the death was clearly a suicide and police aren't investigating a possible murder, since Gretchen and I would be high on the list of suspects.
Early this afternoon, Gretchen's friend Andrea came to the Watergate to hang out with us. In the entranceway, she mentioned to Gretchen's mother that she had been fully vaccinated "but not boosted." When Gretchen's mother seemed a little disappointed by this, Andrea said that it wouldn't be any problem at all for us to do our socializing somewhere else. So that was what we ended up doing. Andrea led Gretchen and me to Flower Child, a café specializing in healthy food. Along the way she was sputtering all sorts of uninformed hear-say against getting a coronavirus booster. This included "heart problems" and "still birth." Such misinformation spreads easily, with people apparently unaware that a certain background level of medical problems will be happening to people whether or not they get vaccinated. What's disappointing is that it was giving Andrea pause when it comes to getting boosted. This is a woman who works in a restaurant, exactly the kind of person who should be doing everything in her power to gird her immune system for coronavirus, particularly now that the omicron variant is spreading like wildfire and breaking through particularly among the vaccinated-but-not-boosted. I suppose we should take it as a victory that she got vaccinated at all, given that she was raised a Christian Scientist and still considers herself a member of that very unscientific religious sect. We of course did what we could to stress that she most certainly should get boosted and that the hearsay and anectdotes she's been hearing are not helpful when forming an opinion when it comes to epidemic medicine. At least Andrea readily admits that she makes mistakes and she seemed to take our advice seriously. Yesterday she's apparently told Gretchen that she makes such bad decisions that Gretchen now had permission to make all her decisions for her. If that is indeed the case, Andrea should hopefully be boosted soon.
At Flower Child I had the "Thai Dye" wrap, which was only a little healthier than I would've preferred, while Andrea chowed down on a super healthy kale salad and Gretchen got two sides: one of broccoli and the other of brussel sprouts. I also had a beer, which seemed kind of watery until I stood up. (I'd been drinking kratom tea earlier, and that can sometimes be an alcohol intensifier.)
Andrea only had a little time to spend with us before starting her shift at the restaurant where she works, and just as she was getting up to go, Gretchen wanted to order her a Lyft so she could spend more time with us. But I could tell this was only complicating the orderly plan Andrea had for herself, so I told Gretchen to just let Andrea do as she'd originally intended. (When I'm on a tight schedule and have things I need to get done, I very much do not appreciate people — and that usually means Gretchen — coming up with ideas for how specifically I should be doing things.)
This evening, Gretchen's father drove the four of us (himself, Gretchen's mother, Gretchen, and me) across the Potomac to Arlington to do a few things over there. Our first destination was Costco, a kind of big-box store I'd never been in before. I'd heard about it and always thought it was a kind of membership-only warehouse supermarket, but as we entered we were tempted by an array of large LCD televisions as if we were walking into a Best Buy. Further in, there was a rack of mens' sweat pants, and I just happened to need an extra pair of those at the time.
Back further into the hangar-like store (which was reminding me of the one depicted in Idiocracy), the groceries appeared. Most of what could be bought came in large containers or boxes containing many items, though occasionally there would be two or three jars of something that could be bought individually anywhere else that were yoked together here. At this point our cart began to fill with things like bread, canned goods, large sacks of nuts and sugar, and an enormous jar of pealed peaches in light syrup.
When we checked out, it was done very quickly, without any bagging (though we bagged the smaller items ourselves). But that was just the first stage of getting out of the Costco. Closer to the door, a woman carefully looked over our receipt and poked around in our cart to make sure we weren't taking anything we hadn't paid for (this was a more thorough version of the sort of thing I'd seen before in Walmart). Finally, at the door, Gretchen's father got our parking validated; the lot at the Costco evidently costs money to park in unless you buy stuff. I should mention, by the way, that nearly everyone was wearing masks in the Costco, which was a requirement to enter. There were a few people who had apparently taken their masks off once inside, probably to exercise that sweet sweet freedom that Rosa Parks was crucified so that we might have it.
Next we went to Dama, an Ethiopian restaurant nearby, hopefully to redeem Gretchen's bad Ethiopian food experience from yesterday. There weren't many people in the restaurant, and nearly all of them were Ethiopian men socializing with each other (where were the women?). We got the vegetarian platter for three to which was added "vegetarian tibs," a normally-meat dish made with seitan, rich sauces, and slices of jalapeños. I ate until I could feel my ribs struggling to remain in their usual shape and then stopped. I thought the meal was excellent, though Gretchen later confided that, to her at least, it hadn't been quite as good as she'd hoped. With my food, I also drank an Ethiopian beer called Habesha Cold Gold, whose bottle cap featured a brown-skinned girl with an afro. It taste like an Italian beer such as Peroni.
After dinner, we went to the bakery that is part of the same restaurant and Gretchen's father bought a bunch of cookies.
Back at the Watergate, Gretchen had me play a classic episode of Jeopardy!, the one where Matt Amodio went down to defeat, from my computer, which I hooked up to the teevee in her parents' bedroom for all of us to watch. After that, I slipped off to bed.
Looking west at Virginia from the balcony of my inlaws' apartment at the Watergate today. The weather was still quite mild.
Click to enlarge.
Me in that scene. I'm wearing a teeshirt.
In the Costco. That's Gretchen in brown and her parents on either side. Click to enlarge.
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