Snagged a parking space this evening directly in front of the Caribou Coffee @ 17th & Penn NW - kitty corner from the White House. Tourist/Washington Helmet-Headed Bird Woman*/Wonk Central. Got the cheapest iced coffee the 'Bou offers while I waited briefly for the Sasquatch to wrap up his workday down the street. WTOP had just announced the wretched temperature before I exited the Crapmobile - still 90F at 6 p.m. with a heat index of 100 hellish degrees.
I was nursing a bad headache and wasn't up to hipster muzak and blasting A/C inside, so I snagged a shaded table right on the street. A few other customers dotted the remaining outdoor tables in the muggy air. I saw a family studying a fold-up tourist map of the city just past the tables. Usually, I offer to help folks, but my brain was getting close to shutting down for the day. Not American, I thought. European?
Then I heard their voices as they spoke loudly over rush hour traffic: Londoners. East End. (I have - or at least had - a good ear for UK accents. Some of my friends at the LSE used to make a game out of testing my ability to place people in cities and regions by voice.) Mum and Dad, teenage son, married daughter and son-in-law. Daughter was oddly dressed in two heavy layers of autumn knitwear; I could only imagine she was slow-cooking in her clothes like a human stew. She was clearly irritated as her husband tried to map their way to Georgetown.
As she waited, arms crossed, she turned toward the Caribou and frowned at the alfresco drinkers. "FUCKIN' 'ELL!" That got everyone's attention. "What kind of crazy bastards drink coffee in this heat?!? Fuckin' 'ell!" Even as the whole family squished into a taxi, she continued to rant in disproportionate response to our summer beverage choices. "My god, that would make me sick! Crazy bastards!"
As they drove away, I exchanged raised eyebrows with the woman at the next table. "Jeez! She needs to relax," the other woman laughed.
I looked at my sweaty cup of lovely iced coffee and just smiled.
Hello, I'm a crazy bastard. And this iced coffee? Very refreshing.
*You know the "Washington Helmet Headed Bird Woman," right? So thin as to have sold her soul to Satan (or Benson & Hedges), courting osteoporosis, clad in an old school Chanel-ish suit, sensible heels, with AquaNetted hair in a helmet halo that a 1960s Betty Crocker would have been proud to sport. Likely has an upper management role at a federal agency or some nonprofit. Mostly humorless. C'mon, DC - we *all* know these women.