After our flop of a weekend (see blog post, If You Liked It, Then You Should Have Put a Ring On It), Russ and I were looking forward to hosting everyone for a nice dinner celebration the following Saturday. Most of our guests were within a two hour radius. My brother and sister-in-law flew in from Texas and Russ’ one brother made the drive from South Carolina in order to attend. I spent Friday afternoon entertaining my brother and his wife, which was not easy considering the government was still shutdown. The only museum open was the Newseum, a private museum that charges a $25 admission fee.
From there we went and had a cocktail before heading home to meet up with Russ and walk to dinner. I booked a table at one of my favorite spots which was made even better by the fact that they had extended restaurant week for another week due to the shutdown. All four of us ate pretty inexpensively as a result. Russ’ one other brother and his wife had come to D.C. early, so all of us met up after dinner and had a couple cocktails and our families got to know each other a little bit.
I managed to get up and go running the next morning without disturbing the household. After that, Russ and I took my brother and sister-in-law on a tour of D.C. to see what we could without museums being opened yet. (The shutdown was announced ended the previous day, but nothing would be open until after the weekend.) I thought our list was pretty ingenious. First we went to Arlington Cemetery to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. From there, we went to Old Town Alexandria and walked around the waterfront and the Torpedo Factory, stopping for lunch at an Irish pub. We made a final stop at the stables at Joint Base Ft. Myer to see the military horses and the impeccably polished caissons thanks to Russ’ military ID. By then we were all ready for a nap which we had once we reached home.
For our big celebration, we chose a local restaurant where we enjoyed dining regularly. The food was always excellent and so were the cocktails. Making it even better was the great service. They weren’t going to charge us a “room” fee which cemented the deal. Renting a room for the night in D.C. on a weekend, I found out, costs anywhere between $4000 and $6000. Cough. What? Maybe I should have known that, but I didn’t.
We started with cocktails at the bar as each guest arrived and moved to our dining room shortly after. With a total of 21 guests, I was worried about the seating dynamics for our two tables since not everyone knew each other, but it all worked out and conversation was never at a standstill.
Just as we suspected, the food and service were fantastic. They served the appetizers and desserts family style, with everyone’s chosen entree in between. The booze flowed all night for our guests, capped off with a few bottles of champagne at the end. I had started with champagne myself, and had switched to a Vesper martini with our meal. A Vesper is a martini made with Plymouth gin, Ketel One vodka, Cocchi Americano aperitif and lemon peel. Needless to say, my laughing got louder and my smile wider as the evening wore on.
We learned of the Vesper the first time we visited the newly-opened restaurant last year. Russ and I ordered it by chance and it became our signature drink because we loved it so much. Our bartender t the time told us James Bond had made the martini famous. I’m not sure how he knew that tidbit of trivia as he barely looked old enough to serve liquor let alone to know James Bond’s proclivities!
The dinner flew by way too fast. I didn’t want it to be over. Our plan for after dinner was to bar hop with whoever wanted to be included. Eighteen of us made the trek three blocks away and managed to fit into a swanky bar where they also had a great menu. It was a good opportunity to spend time with the people who we didn’t sit next to at dinner. We left after a couple rounds and walked into the casual burger joint next door. None of us realize they were about to close as it was only 11 pm (on a Saturday night in D.C.!?). They served us a round and we headed down into China Town after that. We had lost a couple more people by now, but we still had a big group. The fact that we bar hopped so seamlessly, on a Saturday night in D.C., with such a large group, felt epic. I would have said it was impossible to do, but we did it.
It was a magical night for the both of us. Being surrounded by friends and family was a great reminder of how much support we have around us. We have both been through so many changes in the last couple years, especially me, that I had begun to think of support and friendship as fleeting and perfunctory. I might have lost a lot of good friendships with my life changes, but the evening was a brilliant reminder that the people who were left were the only ones who really mattered in the first place.
It took us a couple of days to recover from all of the festivities. We can’t party like we used to without paying a price for it! This morning Russ handed me a cup of coffee in bed and I leaned over to give him a thank-you kiss. Before I could finish he pulled back and said, “Oh my God! What did you eat last night? A dead cat??? Geeeezz!!!”
I met this interjection defiantly by taking a long, luxurious sip of my coffee. Proof that I have learned to think before speaking. I turned and faced him, exhaling the biggest dragon’s breath I could muster straight into the middle of his face. No words were necessary after all.
Yep. Married life. The mystery is over, but we still have fun!