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In Session, Out of Sorts

When doing so, he's careful not to disturb Baily Helm, the 12-week-old son of Richmond friends Fred and Polly Helm -- whose hospitality Albo has somehow managed not to exhaust over the years he's been sleeping over during legislative sessions.

Albo, 42, began staying with Fred Helm, a friend from college, when he was first elected to represent his Fairfax County district. Back then both men were carefree bachelors with a much higher threshold for late nights and loud noise.


Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) relaxes with his Fender guitar in the guestroom of friends Fred and Polly Helm. (Jay Paul for The Washington Post)

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Full Report

But then Fred met Polly, they got married, and . . . well, you know the story. Albo was sure that Fred's nuptials would spell the end of their arrangement.

It was Fred's new bride, actually, who insisted that Albo return to the second-floor guest room in their spacious home for the next session. And much to Albo's amazement, the couple continued to welcome him with open arms even after the arrival of little Baily.

Nine years after the two men started sharing space, it's late nights and loud noise again. "Occasionally Baily will wake up in the middle of the night and I'll go, 'Huh? What? . . . . And then I'll go back to sleep."

His old friend, the new father, laughs. Their relationship still has that mix of camaraderie and gamesmanship common to fraternity houses. "At three in the morning," says Fred Helm, "when the baby's crying and I bring him down here to feed him, I'll sometimes stop in front of Dave's door and just let him wail."

"My feeling was that he's sort of obligated to stay this first year with the baby," says Polly Helm, suggesting that living with a screaming newborn may go some way in offsetting Albo's very reasonable rent, which he calculates by multiplying the reduced session rate at a mid-range hotel by the number of nights he stays with the Helms.

"I don't know if he'll actually choose to stay after that," Polly Helm says. "Though we want him for as long as he'll keep coming."


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