Say Cheese

Isabel, A Saucy Wench

This will not be coherent. There will be no timeline. There will be only images, moments, and fantasies. This all took place during the night that hurricane Isabel swept through D.C., pruning the trees, dumping water on the weary, and disrupting the plans of all within its radius.

As I walked along U Street at the end of the evening, looking for a cab, I looked into the sky. The clouds were moving as if God was holding down the fast forward button on his remote. They were grey and imposing in the inky dark night, and admonished me for being outside.

One sign on U Street, emblazoned with it's No Parking directive, whipped back and forth violently in the wind, bending farther and farther, with only a matter of time before it would snap. The wind gusts took a toll on all the metal I saw, from signs to fences, reworking them into an image of nature-wrought destruction. I pondered what would happen if that metal, free from its anchor, hit me with the force of the 40 mph winds. Upon thinking that thought, I worried that my story of that night would one day start with, "going out seemed like a good idea at the time."

In the cab ride over to the 9:30 Club, where I was to watch the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club perform, I noticed that the rain was not pouring down with much force or volume. Isabel, after all the hype, seemed like a let down. As you would guess, the moment I left the cab, both wind and rain were whipped into fury by that saucy wench, Isabel, leaving me soaked and sopping wet in the entrance to the club. The look of amused pity on the face of the cute woman with the hand stamp made me chuckle ruefully at my lack of humility before Mother Nature.

Inside the club, there were about 15 people working, and less than half that number there to see the show. The bands weren't going to be on for at least another hour, but still, it was a little bizarre to see that hall, which I've seen packed with people, sweat, and smoke, so empty and lifeless. I had to wonder what the bands would do if only 20 or 30 people showed up for the show. There was a hurricane raging outside, after-all. Would they go through the motions, playing listlessly and only for as long as their contract said they must? Would they not play at all? Would they decide to treat the show like a rehearsal, stopping songs in the middle, trying them again, maybe playing some covers? My idle speculation was unwarranted as about 400 people ended up filling the club for the band. It was still a rather empty venue, but the bands were grateful for the support of all the unwise folks who ventured out in the hurricane.

One man, shaved head, no shirt, and glistening with sweat, was clearly enjoying a show that the rest of this reality was not privy to. He hooted and hollered, jumped and jigged, all to the sound of some other band. He had no conceivable rhythm that I could determine, yet he had such an expression of joy on his face that it was hard not to smile with him. That man was happy to be alive and happy to be where he was. That or he was stoned out of his gourd.

Being single and male, I could not help but notice the few women at the club who ventured out for the show. One woman, light brown hooded sweater, blue jeans and green slicker, watched everything with such a stoic passivity that it was almost eerie. She did not move to the music, and best I could tell, she rarely, if ever, smiled. She was approached by some boy, black t-shirt on and grungy, who clearly wanted to penetrate her defenses, yet was unable to get her to uncross her arms. I wanted to take on that challenge. I wanted to make her smile, make her uncross her arms, get her to relax and enjoy the show. I stayed where I was though, as I tend to do. I'm not sure I want to find a woman who is less outgoing than I am. That would be...well, that would just be bad mojo.

There was one other woman, standing five feet from me along the railing in the balcony. She was 5'3 with straight, dark brown hair down past her shoulders. It was fine hair, looking like strands of silk that ran down the sides of her face, which was sharp but not severe. She was pretty, with a thin body, squeezed into tight velvet pants, with some sort of dark purple, metallic gold, and brown splotchy design. They were great pants, and not just because she fit them so well. They stood out with their subtle ostentaciousness, and I could not help but admire them. I made up my mind to say something to her after the show.

-- I have two things to say to you and then I'll leave you in peace. One, those are great pants.

-- Thank you.

-- Second, you're beautiful. Have a great night.

With that, I would have smiled and walked out the door. I want that sort of random encounter, where I touch someone's life for the briefest of moments and possibly leave a mark. Alas, indie-rock guy with the dark framed glasses spoke to her first, made her smile first, grabbed her attention first and generally beat me to the punch. Some other night, my random encounter will happen and you, my loyal readers, will learn of it.

Isabel was the third hurricane that I've experienced, and unlike the others, I went out into the world, saw what it had to offer and returned. It was an experience that I could not turn down, and looking back, I'm glad I didn't. If you've ever wondered what Mr. Eff looks like after a hurricane, take a look and see for yourself. With that, I'm off to bed.

Posted by Mr. Eff on 09/20/2003

For the moment...

Book: Deep Blues, by Robert Palmer

CD: Brothers, by The Black Keys

Song: "Oh My God," by Ida Maria

Link: Shut Up & Sit Down

Ramble: Just An Idea