From Dito Sevilla. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com, follow him on Twitter @DitoDC.
In the near 10 years I have spent underground, mixing and listening, advising and shaking, pouring and un-popping I have seen and heard a lifetime of celebration and sadness, mind numbing plotting, relationship building and ending, the excitement of newly minted, fresh faced, non-profit workers alongside their jaded counterparts and results of three presidential elections.
After 10 Holiday Seasons, 10 High-Heel Races, 10 Gay Pride Parades and thousands of guests, I thought I had seen it all. Then came Tuesday, February 26, 2013.
It was a nasty, windy, cold and rainy night. My little bar was blessed with its usual mélange of friends, regulars and neighborhood newbies, each angling for a seat at the subterranean watering hole at which I have chosen to leave my mark on the world of service. The evening began normal enough: wine, lasagna, two Grey Goose martinis, some gays, some girls, a man on a date, a couple in the window and umbrellas strewn about.
Around closing time though the door walked a woman, a young woman with that look on her face. That look which says, “Oh, you’re still open…” I wasn’t, but why should that stop her. Morphing my disdain into a smile, I offered her a seat, affording her ample opportunity to ignore every subconscious signal I sent pleading with her to get out.
I guess my smile was convincing; she quickly made herself at home, ordered some wine and did her best to ignore me ignoring her. As there were few conversations in which she could insert herself, I took it upon myself to do the part of my job I either love or hate depending on who I have to do it with.
I asked, “So who the hell are you, where are you from, what are you doing here, etc.?”
I used nicer words; she unburdened herself. I re-filled her glass, and then my own.
After a few minutes, her story went from boring to depressing. She is, or was, an attorney. She was just laid off, and has come to DC for a temp job reviewing documents, blah, blah, blah. I can now assure you: the only thing more boring than reviewing documents is listening to a story about reviewing documents.
Anyhow, while I knew that the past 30 minutes were a half-hour I’d never get back, I forced myself to be pleased I had done a kind thing, not letting this stranger-turned-new-friend go thirsty. All was right in our little world. No sooner had I sighed, “Okay, well… goodnight…” the door opened again.
Really, now what?
Audibly exhaling, I turned to make eye contact with a very wet, yet extremely distinguished gentleman. I would like to say it was kindness which edited my internal monologue from “And who the hell are you?” to “Good evening, sir. How are you this evening? A little wet I see. Well have a seat.”
But no, it was curiosity.
I love people, especially when people look like they’re somebody, and he did. I thought to myself, his bearing is dignified. His overcoat is tailored. He looked like the kind of man who thrives in all climates. Wind, rain, perfect! This man was born with the understanding that what makes a man great is his ability to adapt, to succeed in the face of opposition, and prosper, not in spite of it, but because of it. Then again I had made all this up in my head. He sat, ordered a beer. I began my paperwork. I’d be home in 20 minutes. No, of course I wouldn’t.
They began talking. And talking. There was a connection, a spark. Conversation flowed; I eavesdropped. He’s a lawyer too. She’s always thought older men remind her of her father (daddy issues). He has two daughters. She wants to relocate. He’s a partner in a firm. He’s going to Greece next week.
She spent a summer in Athens. She loves Dogs. He did pro-bono work for PETA. She just bought a new watch. He collects them… and on, and on, and on. After two hours of agreement, I could take no more. They exchanged numbers, he asked her to join him in Greece. She said, yes. When they returned, he said, there might be room for new talent at his firm.
Just as I was thinking how magical my job was, that my patience somehow allowed these two to make such a meaningful and powerful connection right there, all before my very eyes… the phone rang. No, no. Not my phone, hers.
It was her “boyfriend.” WHO?
I raised my eyebrows, rolling my eyes back so far I could see my own ass. I turned, daring not to look at the gentleman. I heard the sound of my teeth grinding as she indicated she’d be home, “in a few.” Oh dear.
The room became cold. Goodbyes were exchanged. Calls and emails were promised. His dignity impressed me. No sooner had she returned my goodbye nod she was out the door, across the patio, and onto the sidewalk. Luckily, I didn’t have to say a word. With a last glance at her name and a flip of his wrist, her card fell to the cold, wet, concrete floor. He asked, speaking to me with the same bearing with which he entered “I’d sooner hire my ex-wife to litigate. Can you believe that simple bitch.” It wasn’t a question. I didn’t answer.
So, while there is probably a lesson here, something about opportunity, timing, the motives of man, I still haven’t figured it out. But people, when you’re in a restaurant, silence your phones, because the next time your “man” calls, you might be in Greece, with your new boss. Next Tuesday, I’m closing at 11.
From Dito Sevilla. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com, follow him on Twitter @DitoDC.
The tradition all started in 2004. That’s when the restaurant located at 1602 17th Street (now Floriana) set-up a small, fake tree outside of the restaurant’s main door.
However, after years and years of decorating, I called it off. It was too expensive and there were other complications involved in the holiday tradition.
When the current owner purchased the restaurant, he seemed unaware we had a holiday hiatus and asked to get a tree for the season. We worked with Frank from OLD CITY green and bought a 12-footer. That year restored the annual tradition at Floriana.
“We’re Italian after all. We love Christmas,” says Dino Tapper, the owner of Floriana. “And Dito, well he’s just crazy about it. Were just happy to have a place where he can basically let his Christmas spirit explode. The kids love it, the neighbors love it — the only thing we don’t love about it is taking it all down.”
Currently, we are on our third and largest natural tree, of which I select the shape, the style and the thousands of decorations that adorn the branches.
Recycling decorations from previous years is important, for tradition as well as to control costs. Each year we add additional decorations, but we make sure they compliment the previous years’ themes.
In 2011, my theme was “A Candy Cane Christmas.” This year, the theme is “Election Year Christmas.” The tree is decked out with red, white and blue.
In fact, I’m even hoping to leave the tree up through the inauguration (it’ll be a “Barak Bush” with flags and ribbons), so I’m hoping Mother Nature is kind enough to leave us some needles after the New Year.
Since the tree is enjoyed by the whole neighborhood, I get no greater pleasure than bringing a big slice of holiday cheer to the community around us.
From Dito Sevilla. You can often find him tending bar at — where else — Dito’s Bar om 17th Street NW where he dispenses witticisms and advice. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com and follow him on Twitter @DitoDC.
To my generation of Washingtonians, “KableTown” is all we know. Until recently, it is all we could know. It enters our homes, tearing through our walls, snaking around our doorways, attaching itself to our machines disguising itself as a messenger bringing with it great news of the outside world. KableTown’s claim to “keep you connected” is not a lie, rather a half-truth designed to get our attention.
Like a viper’s bite, fangs deep — it must keep its prey connected, for only then can the full effect of its venom be realized. Its prey pays the ultimate price. Too weak to fight, too beaten to resist, it succumbs. It goes limp. Here in Washington’s jungle, succumbing is not necessarily an agonizing death, but it may as well be. You see KableTown’s venom is billed monthly.
Every 30 days it stings us again. From it’s fangs spring new fees. Unrecognizable pain delivered by envelope. With each bill offering up no answers, only new taxes and surcharges. It’s all the same too us. Surrounded by snakes, we pay. To fight back will only weaken our will and kill our spirits. We are defeated. Bitten, we can wait only for rescue.
One day the antidote will come. One day for me, it did.
Here is My Story
ACTUAL EMAIL TO KableTown, DATED: 07-15-2012
Dear Mr. “Greenleigh,”
I write to you in order to bring to your attention a most peculiar experience.
In over 10 years as a KableTown/KFinity customer, with accounts both at my home and my business, I have never experienced anything quite as shocking as what occurred during a service visit this Thursday, July 12, 2012.
I must stress that in over a decade with your company, I have had countless disdainfully acrimonious and vexing conversations with the department so cavalierly labeled “customer service.” I have had your sub-contracted technicians stain my carpet, ruin my walls, snake cable with the care one would tangle Christmas lights.
I have sworn off KableTown for fear another conversation with your team members would give me an aneurism, or cause me to commit a terrible crime. I have waited in lines so long to replace equipment the groceries in my car expired before I could get back to them.
I have developed an Imperially British accent from the interminable conversations I have endured with your technicians overseas. My service has failed me indiscriminately through all manner of events, from the lowliest rerun, to the royal wedding itself. I have missed news, season finales, premiers, and the like. For days in mid-April, I thought it was snowing because the picture was so bad.
Were KableTown a person, I would happily cast a stone aiming high enough to hit it’s face, but not hard enough to kill because unselfishly, I’d like others in the long line behind me to get their chance too. In short, your company has failed me terribly, but we are bound together. KableTown is the devil I know.
Mr. Greenleigh, I direct you back to last week.
Wednesday, I called to reschedule the appointment from Thursday (7-05-12), an appointment to which, unremarkably, your people failed to show.
After being on the phone for (yes, seriously) more than 37 minutes, and enduring FIVE transfers from HOME, to BUSINESS, to HOME INTERNET, to HOME TECHNICAL SUPPORT and finally back to a “supervisor” in BUSINESS, a new appointment, Thursday 7-12-2012.
THE TECHNICIAN SHOWED UP EARLY! HE WAS FRIENDLY! HE WAS COURTEOUS!
He called to let me know he was in the area — as he knew I was rushing down the street to meet him, he told me not to hurry because he’d happily get to work without me there because he had already diagnosed the problem!
HE REPLACED THE DEFECTIVE CABLE BOX, trimming and re-installing ancient coaxial snakes in the process. HE PROGRAMMED MY REMOTE… a remote which he happily retrieved from his van! Then he repaired our TELEPHONE LINES and HAPPILY followed me up the four FLIGHTS of stairs to confirm that the FAX line had also been corrected. He offered me HIS TOOLS and HIS HELP to mount the new cable box to the wall. HE helped me schedule an appointment and installation of a new phone jack.
I have NEVER been so shocked in my entire life. 34 years on this planet and I have never seen anything so amazing. I saw a KableTown employee who I’d hire to work for me.
Mr. Greenleigh, I can tell you that this man almost changed my opinion of your company.
His name is “Rodney,” his Technician ID is “1602” and he should be YOUR boss.
He is the kind of person who should be training others you send to your client’s homes and businesses. He is professional FAR beyond the standards you set. He doesn’t deserve a raise. What he deserves is a recommendation to get a better job, to work for a better company. At the very least he deserves this email, and the gratitude of this man, our business, and all of its guests. That Rodney has earned, along with all of our respect.
I remain, sincerely yours,
E. Dito Sevilla
Customer Number “09529 3800080 04 6”
Borderstan welcomes new contributor Dito Sevilla. You can often find him tending bar at –where else — Dito’s Bar om 17th Street NW where he dispenses witticisms and advice. A DC native, expert mixologist, amateur oenophile, and avid collector, he thrives on human interaction, exposing ironies in the human condition, and enjoying watching history repeat itself. When not found behind the bar, Dito enjoys discovering old neighborhoods that other people call new, and finding the needles in life’s haystacks. Email him at dito[AT]borderstan.com
Sometime last week, either late into the night or early in the morning, the long held dream of many – or most likely, relatively few — came true. Curiosity, a rather unimpressive looking doohickey, landed on Mars. And apparently, it was a big deal.
For those who may not be aware, Mars is far away — even further away from DC than Manassas or Culpepper. It’s what NASA calls “another planet” — as in a real other planet, not just “Texas.”
I know all of this because I saw it on television, and here is what I witnessed:
A rustic golf cart dropped onto Mars and vainly took pictures of itself and it’s tires. Then, it emailed these pictures back to Earth where a room full of nerds, one memorable for his cute (gay) haircut, all cheered, hugged and rubbed on each other as each grainy image downloaded onto the room’s screens.
This whole charade was aired live, while millions of Americans (myself included) were steered away from what really mattered: the Summer Olympics. You see, this whole alien landing episode interrupted the quadrennial Games — a gathering of the world’s hottest people specifically designed to showcase their rippling bodies and hours spent training, drilling and preparing to showcase their greatness. These men and women swim, dance, jump, box, dive, wrestle, vault, tumble, leap, hurdle, and in some cases, fall for the chance of earning a gold, silver or bronze necklace.
A dusty plopping down onto some far-off planet in the middle of the night holds no candle to the prime time, toe curling landing of gymnast, McKayla Maroney’s, vault. Yes, grainy black and white images of a left wheel sent millions of miles through space are nice, but do not impress me after perusing the uncut, high-resolution, full-color self-pictures of a half-naked Danell Leyva; images he, like the Mars Rover, sexted from his own phone. Unlike Curiosity, Danell lacks a spare tire, but compensates with unparalleled flexibility and grace.
When one thinks of mankind’s greatest achievements, space landings tend to be high on the list. They’re usually filed alongside the discovery of fire and the development of sliced bread. Of course, there are other inventions, too. Who could live without electricity, the telephone or computers? While those are nice (and have certainly stood the test of time) new greatness emerged from London every hour. Legends developed as Big Ben ticked away the minutes.
Legendary swimmer, Michael Phelps swam his way into the history books, and did it in a place where history was made. Not since Mrs. Wallace Simpson stole their king has a Baltimorean left England with more gold and silver. Opening the ceremonies, a Kingdom’s Queen invited the world’s most spectacular to experience their most spectacular. In competing for greatness in a place known for it, every athlete at this year’s games exchanged some of the best they had with a city that gave some of it’s own back.
If one day, mankind’s curiosity leads him to Uranus, I won’t be watching.
You didn’t have to don a wig for Wig Night Out on Saturday night at Dito’s Bar, but several dozen people turned out to do just that to help raise funds for the Point Foundation. A national organization, the mission of the the Point Foundation is to provide “financial support, mentoring, leadership training and hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”