John Kelly writes five times a week about the joys and annoyances of living in Washington. He aims to show readers the Washington (and Silver Spring, Alexandria, Manassas, Bowie ...) that they know and take them places they don't know. He wants to make them see familiar things in unfamiliar ways and unfamiliar things in familiar ways. ("We may occasionally end up seeing unfamiliar things in unfamiliar ways," John says, "but such are the risks of the job.") His columns take a cockeyed view of the place the rest of the planet knows as the Capital of the Free World but that we all call home. John rides the Metro for fun and once kidnapped an Irishman to see what made him tick.
Fridays at 1 p.m. ET John's online to chat about his columns and mull over anything that's on your mind.
This week's columns:
Home Sweet Somewhere (Post, Nov. 19, 2004)
When a Semicircle Goes Round (Post, Nov. 18, 2004)
Diminutive Desks Spark Grand Realizations (Post, Nov. 17, 2004)
The Very Picture of a Train Wreck (Post, Nov. 16, 2004)
Answer Man: Return of the Green Menace (Post, Nov. 15, 2004)
Post columnist John Kelly
(The Washington Post)
Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.
John Kelly: It's 1 p.m. Friday in Washington. That can mean only one thing: It's 6 p.m. in Reykjavik. Or two things: It's JKW chat time.
I have no "agenda" today. I have no "preconceived notions." I'm not trying to "sell" you "anything." I'm just trying to "brighten" your day.
Please feel free to brighten mine.
Greetings from the Third Cubicle on the Left.
So are you cooking for your lovely wife on Thursday? And what exactly is your gastronomic holiday specialty? Care to share the recipe with your avid readers/fans?
We assume it doesn't involve tomato sauce, cheese, a crust or any type of deli meat.
John Kelly: As I ordered a smoked turkey on rye from the Post cafeteria I said to myself, "John, old boy, you eat an alarming amount of turkey. You had turkey yesterday. You're having turkey today. And Thursday you can be guaranteed to work your molars around some...turkey."
Then the buy behind me said, "Um, if I wanted to hear a guy talking to himself I'd eat at the cafeteria at St. Elizabeth's."
We'll be going to my mother-in-law's in Bethesda for a meal prepared mainly by Giant Food, I believe. Nobody we invited for Thanksgiving at our house wanted to come, despite the fact that My Lovely Wife is a really good cook and I am very good at operating a corkscrew.
While getting ready for a yard sale, I came across a couple dozen trophys (kids grown and gone). Does anyone know of an organization that recycles them or do I put them in the trash?
washingtonpost.com: When a Semicircle Goes Round (Post, Nov. 18)
John Kelly: I've been asked this before and just haven't had time to investigate. Anyone? You could try www.freecycle.org, an e-mail group that is like The List thing that we do, but for all sorts of items. People give and take all kinds of things on there.
Do you know that GEHA poster one confronts in just about every Metro station and car, the one with the middle-aged man and his aerdale?
Am I the only person that thinks there's something creepy about that picture, as if maybe there's a little more to this relationship than there should be?
John Kelly: I must have seen it, but I can't recall it just now. I'm sure you're not the only one, since rarely is one just the ONLY one who believes or does ANYTHING. Think you're the only one who likes liverwurst with cream cheese and anchovies? Nope, there's someone else. Probably in Japan. As for that ad, isn't a dog man's best friend?
I've been wanting to ask this for four weeks...
In your Oct. 22 column, you mention a reader who collects fortunes from fortune cookies. What I want to know: did you ever add the words "in bed" to the ends of fortunes. Even when you do that, the fortune still makes sense, but with slightly salacious overtones.
washingtonpost.com: A Few Tidbits From the Files (Post, Oct. 20)
John Kelly: Yes. I can't remember who first suggested doing this. Probably my mother. Except I think she recommended "between the sheets." It works with anything: You will enjoy great wealth, between the sheets/in bed. Live long and prosper, between the sheets/in bed. You get the idea (in bed).
Just noticed that every time I logged onto www.washingtonpost.com today, they showed Prez Bush kissing the cheek of a female cabinet member. Coincidence or planned?
washingtonpost.com: President Bush's Kissing Cabinet (Post, Nov. 19)
John Kelly: Oh it's planned. That's to get your attention, like the Monday Night Football/"Desperate Housewives" thing. The phone goes with Robin Givhan's story on how kissy Bush has been lately. (Now, if he kisses an airedale....)
John, John, John. I had to hide your column yesterday from my husband. I try so hard to get him to let go of items we no longer use--you know, those that we "might use someday." Things like the story of your table only encourage him.
I truly believe that the great divide in marriages comes not from trivial things like money or children, but the "divest vs. hoard" debate.
washingtonpost.com: When a Semicircle Goes Round (Post, Nov. 18)
John Kelly: What's bad is when you have two hoarders, which is what My Lovely Wife and I are. I was so glad when she discovered a little crawl space above a closet in the basement of our new house the other day. Another place to cram stuff!
But my friend Dave's wife, Jan, is the opposite. And Dave doesn't throw ANYTHING away. He's like an archivist. He'll show up at home with old street signs he's picked up by the side of the road, or ticket stubs from sporting events found in winter coats. Jan is not amused.
You're a native Washingtonian? Really?
Hey, so am I?
So do you remember the really big and shiney Safeway International that was on F Street back in the 1960s/70s? It pre-dated that god-awful Sutton Place Gourmet?
I remember it was the place you would see a lot of foreign diplomats who wanted a taste of home.
Also do you remember the Washinton Shoppers Plate (one charge card for seven D.C. area department stores)?
And please, oh, please tell me you remember the Hot Shoppes which I would sell a kidney to have return in its former glory? (Any Marriott people listening?)
I also miss Roy Rogers which used to have a cheesy, but great cowboy motif and served their lunch platters on cheesy but great fake wooden paper plates.
Sigh. I miss it...I miss it all...at the tender age of 44.........
John Kelly: My college roommate, Pat, and I were fixtures at the Hot Shoppes in Langley Park. It was right down the street from our apartment. We could walk there with a hangover (though we usually drove). And the coffee and pancakes were great. It was torn down and is now a Taco Bell. When I saw that it was gone, it was as if the Parthenon had been reduced to rubble. (I mean even more rubble than it already is.)
Interesting article today, though my overwhelming thought was that this whole argument just sounds so "high school". Why would someone care if another person says they are from DC but actually live in Alexandria? I live in Clarendon, but tell most people outside of this area that I live in Washington. It is considerably easier than explaining where Clarendon is in relation to the city. Lighten up DC residents, and please get over yourselves.
washingtonpost.com: Home Sweet Somewhere (Post, Nov. 19)
John Kelly: What I detect from the inside-the-border Washingtonians is irritation that outside-the-borders want to claim the benefit of attaching themselves to a well-known and (arguably) cool place--Washington--without the hassle of actually living in it. It's like that children's story: Who will help me bake the bread?
But you're right, it is like high school. I quickly learned that EVERYTHING is like high school. Everything. (Except, oddly, high school. It's more like the reign of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protectorate of England.)
Silver Spring, Md.:
Not so worried about the GEHA poster guy in the Metro system, but the Burger King breakfast commercial really creeps me out. How would you like to wake up to find a guy in your bed dressed in a Burger King costume and creepy mask holding a greasy crossiant sandwich, imploring you to eat it. That really doesn't get me geeked to eat a breakfast sandwich, it makes me want to pull the mask off to find R. Kelly behind it! Yikes!
John Kelly: Yeah, the BK commercial with the scary king almost turned me into a vegan. But I'd miss the turkey.
Metro has been opening at five am during the week and, instead of catching a train at Rosslyn at 5:30, I am now catching a fairly full Orange Line train at 5:23. One phenomenon that intrigues me that a group of people seem to standing up and waiting at the doors in order to get off at the next stop. There are 7 or 8 people anxiously standing to get off at Federal Triangle and Smithsonian. I wonder about behavior that requires me to rush into the office by 5:40 each day but I really wonder what impels folks to stand so they can be sure to get out as soon as the door opens.
John Kelly: They're just eager little beavers. Do they block you getting on? Of course, you're supposed to let them off first. And remember that there's nothing more annoying that a tourist who's waaaay in the middle of the car and doesn't even get up to get off until the doors have opened. They really slow things down.
Dude, I can't believe people are so excited about Buch kissing someone. He barely has lips! Remember Frank burns from MASH?
washingtonpost.com: President Bush's Kissing Cabinet (Post, Nov. 19)
John Kelly: I think Bush has lips. I just think he keeps them curled under against his teeth. Don't ask my why I think this.
Silver Spring, Md.:
Washingtonians. Gotta love the irony. When I was at UVa, there were kids there telling students from Roanoke and Richmond that they were from "DC." OK, so why were they from Reston, and we know folks from Reston are scared to death to go to Ben's Chili Bowl in broad daylight with a police escort. Kind of funny, don't you think? I was born at Walter Reed Hospital, but since my mom was shopping in DC at the time, I didn't make it back over the bridge. Am I still a Washingtonian, as it were?
John Kelly: It depends on where she was shopping. If she was shopping at Garfinckel's or Lansburgh's then you're a Washingtonian.
Prince Frederick, Md.:
Can you ask Robin Givhan or the editors to tone down her snarky comments about the Bush women? She can't say anything good about them. Remember, two of them are just out of their teens, and the other is a former school teacher. And there are more important things in this world besides accessories. Chelsea was a real dork before her makeover. Cut the catty remarks.
John Kelly: "Real dork" = "cutting remark"
I love what Robin Givhan writes. I don't think she's being cutting because they're the Bushes. Robin just has a feisty pen. Besides, ever since she wrote an article on the horrors of button-down shirts, I'm afraid to walk past her. I've been known to wear them myself. Otherwise my ties try to fly away, back to Oz.
Considering your column today, how about those of us being called a Washington Metropolitonian? Or something like that. I know, I know, its a bit long and doesn't solve the real problem.
washingtonpost.com: Home Sweet Somewhere (Post, Nov. 19)
John Kelly: A Washington Metropolitan. It sounds like a baseball player. You could always fudge and say "I'm from the 'Washington area.'"
I'm getting a lot of e-mail from people fiercely defending their right to call themselves Washingtonians. Some are readers who live in the close-in suburbs. Others are natives who moved away. John Shipman, who now lives in Las Vegas, said "When you're my age (62), being a Washingtonian is less about location and more about memories."
Well, if the Smithsonian can display Jerry Seinfeld's puffy shirt, I have some garbage in my garage they can have. They don't seem to be very particular about what they'll display anymore! What's next, Washingtonies underware?
washingtonpost.com: Seinfeld Leaves His Mark on History (Post, Nov. 19)
John Kelly: I'll have to do a column on what the Smithsonian WON'T take. Actually, they do have standards. When I was in Weekend, the late, great staff writer Kevin McManus did a story on that. He said that people--ordinary people, not celebrities--were always trying to donate stuff that the Smithsonian didn't want. People like to be able to say things like, "Well, my liverwurst collection is going to be in the Smithsonian someday." But most of it, as you'd expect, is junk and the "Nation's Attic" doesn't want it. The kicker is that Kevin got them to take something of his: his old Land's End canvas briefcase. He said it was an icon of 1990s design.
If your lab is AKS registered than that is the problem. The AKC and the conformation ring have done more damage to dogs both physically and metally in the last 100 years than 5000 years of evolution. Border Collies have only been registered with the AKC since 1995 and the AKC is doing its best to destroy border collie intelligence and ability to herd sheep. I own a rough collie and it is difficult to find one that has a real desire to herd. A lab from working lines is a totally different dog then one from an AKC breeder.
"If a dog cant herd it is worthless"
John Kelly: I think you must be referring to some columns in which I've mentioned Charlie, our loveable but dumb black lab. As dogs go, he's really not that bad. No, he's not AKC registered. And he may not be 100 percent labrador retriever. I don't think his problems are genetic. Wanting to be standing RIGHT NEXT TO YOU every freakin' waking moment isn't in the DNA, I think.
There are still some around, here in the Alexandria area, and some around Frederick MD. A bit of a drive from Bethesda, but certainly worth the trip if you're jonesing...
John Kelly: There you go. I never much liked the french fries at Roys, but I liked putting on my own fixin's, and especially mixing barbecue sauce and mayonnaise.
I am looking for a soup kitchen that needs help serving thanksgiving dinner on Thursday. Do you know of any that are looking?
John Kelly: Thanksgiving is a day that people plan for months ahead of time. All the D.C. agencies that I called already have plenty of volunteers. You might try contacting So Others Might Eat or the D.C. Central Kitchen earlier next year. As for this year, the nonprofits group still need money and some of them need food. The DC Central Kitchen (www.dccentralkitchen.org) can use prepared meals, but also is soliciting "virtual turkeys." That's money that can be used year round. "The virtual turkey may not taste the same going down, but in the end the flavor may last a bit longer" said DCCK president Robert Egger. So Others Might Eat (www.some.org) also has enough volunteers for Thursday, but is inviting people to participate in its 5K Trot for Hunger (http://www.some.org/inv_eve_trot.html).
Falls Church, Va.:
I have lived in the same Falls Church Zip code for eleven years, far longer than anywhere else. Nonetheless, I would not presume to call myself a "Falls Church native." When asked where I was born, I say, "Pittsburgh," even though I was actually born in a suburb. When asked by a local person where I live, I say, "Falls Church." When traveling and I am asked where I am from I say, "Washington, D.C." It is entirely situational. My wife, indidentally, is from Woodbridge, with the only caveat that she was actually born on an Air Force base in Illinois.
John Kelly: It is situational. When I was checking into a hotel in Edinburgh last summer, the clerk asked where we were from. I said "Washington, D.C." Then when I filled out the registration form and wrote "Silver Spring" for my residence, I worried that she was going to frog march me into a back room and demand to know why I had said one thing and written another. Where was I from anyway? Huh?
One of those things that need to be shared. On Wednesday morning, I was driving up 395 North. My attention was momentarily caught by the person in the white camry who drove up the breakdown lane on my right because they are obviously so much more important than the rest of us crawling along. However, that afforded me the following sight: along Army-Navy Drive was a couple walking a big black dog. The dog had a white coat like thing on...and a red and gold crown. And the dog seemed to be really into it. I kept my eyes on the road but had to at least take another glance. Looking in my rearview mirror I could tell the people behind me had seen it too because they were pointing over in that direction and laughing.
John Kelly: That was the King of the Dogs. It was in all the papers.
Owings Mills, Md.:
I think its perfectly fine for people in the area to say they are from Washington. Otherwise you get strange looks. If I say I'm from Springfield, VA people just stare at me then they think I'm from Virginia. We moved here part way through my high school years from California and all of my friends thought I was moving to the sticks because I said I was moving to Virginia. Besides I'm sure people from suburbs all over the country say they are from the corresponding city.
John Kelly: Schooling seems to be an important consideration. One reader said you have to have attended elementary school in Washington to be a Washingtonian. Another said that where you attend high school and hang out cements your regional identity.
Are just a ploy to get the French to like us again.
Look over here, French people!; We kiss people when we meet them!; We're not so bad!;
John Kelly: Well then I want to see him go after the Eskimo vote. Nose rubbing at the White House! Not even Clinton dared that.
Silver Spring, Md. :
Metro has a new enemy: leg crossers who sit right next to the door and block the aisle with their Prada's. Since little old ladies rarely cross their legs, I think that the younger female set needs to get with the program: those seats aren't meant for YOU, ok? If you're young enough to endure four-inch heels and five block work to and from the subway, you can stand from Silver Spring to downtown. Either leave the door seats for the elderly and pregnant or find another seat. At least, for the love of Pete, uncross your legs so we all don't have to trip over you every morning.
John Kelly: You hear that all you Sharon Stones out there? Uncross your legs.
Silver Spring, Md.:
She was shopping at Garfinckel's with my grandma when she went into labor. I guess I'm an "O.W." Original Washingtonian.
John Kelly: You outlasted Garfinckel's anyway.
The gentleman from Hillcrest is being a bit jingoistic and non-inclusive when he says one must be born in, and STAY in D.C. your entire life to be entitled to call yourself a Washingtonian. I was born in D.C. at the old Providence Hospital, but have never lived in the confines of D.C. I have lived in P.G. Co. and Mont.Co. all of my life (61 yrs.) I spent much time in my youth seeking entertainment in D.C. and working there. I have as much right to call myself a Washingtonian as anyone. And I agree that when we go out of town we say we are from Washington.
John Kelly: There certainly are some cut-and-dried rules. One either lives within the city limits or one doesn't. One was either born at Providence or DC General or one wasn't. But beyond that there is room for interpretation. If we carry some of the same memories in our heads, then we're similar. But going into DC to shop at a store or go to a nightclub will give you a different set of memories than playing in the spray of a fire hydrant on North Capitol Street.
How about that picture of Bush strangling the pardoned Thanksgiving turkey yesterday?
John Kelly: How about it. I think he was imagining it was Jacques Chirac.
Hee-hee. Yeah, Reston is the same as DC. Sure.
The people who live in Maryland and Virginia but tell people they're from DC are the same people who are on the Going Out Gurus chat every week, wondering is it's safe to park on the street down along U St.
John Kelly: I was born in DC. I lived for two years in DC as an adult. But I've interacted with the city and the suburbs so much that I think I feel comfortable just about anywhere. What bothers me are people who don't participate in either the city or the suburbs. When I was editor of Weekend I would meet readers from, say, Annandale who said "Oh, I don't go into Washington AT ALL. It's too dangerous." What? No Smithsonian? No Washington Monument? No 930 Club or Bayou?
May I use your forum for a public service announcement:
Shoppers, please do not use designated Handicap parking spaces as a depository for your carts when you are done with them. When you do that, you lazy so and so, you force a disabled person to get out of their car to move your cart in order to park in the space that the law sets aside for them. You are able-bodied; walk your cart back to the store or to the conveniently located "cart corral" in the parking lot. Be considerate of those less fortunate than yourself. You may be in their seat some day.
P.S.: Stop challenging me every time I use a handicap parking space. Not all disabled people are senior citizens or use a wheelchair. The next time one of you says, "you're not handicapped", I am tempted to rip off my shirt and show you the scars.
John Kelly: Got that folks? And if you do end up doing that ripped-shirt/scar-showing thing, let me know. It would make a great column. (I presume you have a handicapped plate or sticker on your car?)
Hey, every Thanksgiving you can get someone to cook dinner for you, is a Thanksgiving to be grateful for! Last year, my husband and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner and I will happily forego that experience as many times as I can.
John Kelly: You're right. You're right. And the good thing about going to someone else's house is that you can control when your Thanksgiving is over, just by getting in the car. I like mine to be over just after dessert is finished but before it's time to do the dishes.
Gaithersburg Md. again:
If we are going to get nostalgic, I also remember the Hot Shoppe in Langley Park fondly. Spent many a date there eating cheap. You can still get a Mighty Mo at the Pooks Hill Marriott, but it costs $8.00!!
Do you remember Wylies Ice Cream Parlor in Langley Park? Gobs of green whipped cream on everything, and a huge concoction that was free if you could eat it all.
John Kelly: In fact I had a mighty Mo there a couple of months ago. Just for old time's sake. In Langley Park, we favored the Lang Lin Chinese restaurant.
Well, here, EVERYONE, it seems, who lives in Georgia, says
they're from Atlanta. Even plenty of places that aren't
even really near the city have mailing addresses that are
Atlanta. It drives my husband nuts! He's always like: no,
you DON"T live in Atlanta. Which is really funny, since
when I met him he lived in a far away suburb. Now he's a
city snob, who makes fun of people in the suburb. I guess
that's what marrying a northerner did to him...
John Kelly: I wanted to talk to Mayor Tony Williams but wasn't able to. A spokeswoman said that the fact that people want to claim Washington is a sign of the city's health. There was a time, he feels, when people would gone out of their way to say they were from Laurel or Clifton or Gaithersburg--any place but Washington. I'm not sure he's right, but it's an interesting theory.
First, I really love your column. You just do a good job, plain and simple.
Next, I had tears in my eyes with the Subway column. Especially poignant after I heard the piece on NPR the other night about how we are putting long-time green card holders who work and have families here in jail indefinitely, beating them, terrorizing them with dogs, and then deporting them because they have committed horrible crimes like jumping over the turnstile on the subway. These wonderful people are what makes our country what it is. Thanks for talking to them and sharing it with us.
John Kelly: Thank you. That column got a lot of reaction, which surprised me and pleased me. Pleased me because I like getting reaction, and because the Nepalese guys liked it. Surprised me because it wasn't a "hard" column to do. I just sat and spoke with them. Which tells me sometimes journalists, myself included, overthink things. Sometimes simpler is better. I hope to touch base with them every now and then to see how they're doing.
re: Forture Cookies:
I always used to add "...in bed" to the end of my fortune cookies until one day when I opened a cookie to find "You are good with animals."
John Kelly: Baddum boom!
New York, N.Y.:
That Navy guy in your column today was amazingly rude. If someone snottily told me I wasn't really from Washington, I'd respond with something equally snotty like "given your track record of electing crack addicts and murdering children on the streets, inclusion can only help." Besides, as the federal city, Washington belongs to us all.
washingtonpost.com: Home Sweet Somewhere (Post, Nov. 19)
John Kelly: And he would say, Well why don't you help us fix those problems?
We (and I say "we" realizing that I have no idea what that means in this context) have odd feelings about this DC-belongs-to-the-nation stuff. Sometimes we resent it: Why can't we be self-contained, thought of as an ordinary city? Why does our city always have to be "on," like a party with guests who never leave? And why do you losers out in the rest of the country send your wicked politicians here? On the other hand, we're secretly proud of all this attention. We get wonderful free museums and we run into Ted Koppel on the street. I find the whole thing kind of funny.
So John, you've been writing your column for almost a year now and readers refer to you as the new guy. When do you become the not-so new guy?
John Kelly: That's a very good question. Readers?
Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.:
re: Roy Rogers
Forget Roy's. A better restaurant was its precursor, Hot Shoppes, Jr., with their Big Mac-like Royal Burger, and the Pappy Parker fried chicken. Yum.
John Kelly: Memmmmmories, like the corners of my mind.....
Silver Spring, Md.:
I'm sure Leonard Slatkin has been a fine conductor (director?) of the NSO, but is the annnouncement that he'll retire in 2008 really front page news, while the Senate voting to increase the Federal debt limit really such a smaller story that it should be buried in the middle of the first section? The deficit is, I admit, a complicated, somewhat dry topic, but it affects every single "Post" reader (well, at least the taxpayers). The fact that Slatkin will depart the NSO in 2008 affects far fewer people, with smaller effects occurring further in the future.
washingtonpost.com: Slatkin, NSO to Part in 2008 (Post, Nov. 18)
John Kelly: Well the front page is a smorgasbord. It shouldn't be all policy and war. If we used the "how many Post readers does it affect" rule for every story in the paper, it'd be awfully thin indeed. Sometimes an interesting, well-written article about something that affects one person (or dog) deserves a spot on A1.
Sorry to dissapoint John, but the Bayou has been
closed for 5 years
John Kelly: I know. I was just sayin'. I was going to use my favorite DC club: The Gentry. I'll be no one remembers that one but me.
Adams Morgan, Washington, D.C.:
Quote: "If I say I'm from Springfield, VA people just
stare at me then they think I'm from Virginia."
If you are from Springfield, YOU ARE FROM VIRGINIA!
John Kelly: Yes, but you don't have to rub it in.
Prince Frederick, MD again.....:
For Bethesda's memories about DC -- I lived in DC from 1965 to 1985. Sights I recall:
along F Street, a restaurant with blue mirrors and strawberries the size of tennis balls. Looking in Woodie's decorated windows at Christmas with animated characters. "Tulips sleeping" signs at the Treasury Building flower beds. The Circle Theatre that showed great old movies and you could get in for $1 to see a double-feature. Bassin's outdoor seating at 14th and Penn and watching the parade of passersby. Buying Fannie Mae chocolates cheap at their "reject" kitchen on E Street. Lots of memories; now downtown is blocks of cement and glass. Very cold and uninviting.
John Kelly: ...misty water-colored memories...
I see your Hot Shoppes and I raise you 1 Pappy Parker's. Lord knows I haven't had decent fried chicken since that chain was sold. I have fond memories of the Pappy's on River Road (next to the tower) that became a Roy Rogers.
Sigh. Oh to be 12 and in that place again.
John Kelly: ...of the way we were.
Petworth, Washington, D.C.:
It is not at all like high school.
Listen, we put up with all kinds of bashing from y'all suburbanites. And then you go places and claim to be from DC?
No. You either live in the city with all that implies, or you live in the burbs. And I'm sorry if you don't like that, but so it goes.
We get sick of conversations that go like this:
Oh, you're from Washington, DC?
Maryland or Virginia?
No. No one really lives there. (with the implied subtext that no on WHITE really lives there.)
Then (if we care enough by this point) we have to go through the whole song and dance about no, we really do live in DC, yes, it really is nice... This is the fault of stupid suburbanites giving the rest of the country the impression that DC=MD=VA.
Precision and accuracy in language matters.
John Kelly: Noted. Remember, though, that some versions of that same conversations take place even in the suburbs. There are those who--mainly from out of town--who believe that no one can come from an Arlington or a Silver Spring. And if we do not hang together, we will certainly hang separately.
I have to answer this question A LOT whenever I go to NYC, Philly or Boston since I'm usually the only Washingtonian around when the topic comes up: at our numerous "bulletproof" carryouts what is mambo/mumbo sauce? Is it ketchup? Sweet and sour sauce? What IS it? I can never answer the question adequately, but then again, can anyone from Philly tell me definitively what scrapple is?
John Kelly: anyone have a mambo answer?
When I went off to college, the first thing people asked when they met you was where you're from. I quickly learned that I shouldn't say Maryland because people assumed I meant Baltimore, and I never spend time in Baltimore. I worked in DC, I spent time in DC, but I didn't want to say DC because I'm not from the city proper. So my answer was usually "I'm from just outside DC." However, I would consider myself a Washingtonian.
John Kelly: There's one person's answer.
If you know the difference between a Weenie Beenie chili dog and a Ben's half smoke with chili, then you're a Washingtonian. No arguments.
John Kelly: We've been talking a lot about food today for some reason. That turkey sandwich of mine is going to need some company.
Falls Church, Va.:
When will we see a column about your old Datsun? I would imagine you could get plenty of ink out of owning an obscure Japanese sports car. Other columnists have done it with much less worthy vehicles.
John Kelly: I finally brought it to our new house from my mother-in-law's a couple of weeks ago. It was all dusty and dirty from being in a carport. But it started right up with a jump and once I pumped up the clutch it drove home fine. I washed it and now it's shining in the garage. But winter's coming and it's a very spartan car. I should really drive it around though, since it always gets remarks and I do need column fodder.
If you will look back through the papers for the last zillion years, you will see that EVERY president EVERY year has had his picture taken with a "pardoned" turkey.
John Kelly: Yes. It's a tradition. Like the Easter Egg Roll. And the tradition in Style is that the newest writer gets to/has to be the one to write about it.
Nostalgia - did any one else go the Jade Buddha on Route 1 at Hybla Valley? That was our family place for great Chinese. I miss it!
John Kelly: Can it be that it was all so simple then?
Or has time rewritten every line?
being from someplace:
Everyplace has its own definition of "from there". I was born in a small town in Western Maryland and lived there until I graduated from high school, but anyone there would tell you that I'm not really "from there" because I chose to leave. My husband was born in a military hospital and never lived in the same place for more than two years until he was in college. He just tells people he's not from anyplace, which definitely gets some strange reactions.
John Kelly: Yet I would say you are from "there" since you had your formative years there.
old guy: You stop being the new guy, when a new-er guy starts. Unless you are hired within a month of each other. Then you are the new guys (plural).
John Kelly: An interesting equation.
Bethesda, Washington, D.C.:
John, you are not the new guy. You are the guy.
John Kelly: Awwwwww.
Mr. Kelly, Sir....:
I've been reading your columns and chats for well nigh on a year now...you're starting to feel like family to me. Speaking of...I'm an orphan with no plans for Thanksgiving. Wanna invite me over?
John Kelly: Want to? Yes. Will? No.
But if you live in the suburbs I think I should set you up with "Petworth." Maybe you guys can work out some differences.
Petworth, Washington, D.C.:
Ah yes. The suburbanites want to claim our city, but not to let us have voting rights. They want to slam us when they're here, but then brag about being from here. They want to take advantage of all the wonderful things our city is, blame us for imperfections, refuse to talk about a commuter tax...
Yeah, we really want you guys to claim us.
John Kelly: I'm sensing some anger here. Can't we all just...you know.
I'm from DC....the Maryland side:
The DC suburbs revolve, culturally, around DC. So, no, Greenbelt is not DC but many people who live in Greenbelt come to DC for work and play. To me, they become one and the same. There is greater difference between Richmond, VA and Arlington, VA than there is between Arlington, VA and Washington, DC and Bethesda, MD. How many of us cross state lines on a daily bases? I know I do.
When I travel, I say I'm from DC. This has led to some very interesting questions. If I'm local, I say I'm from Maryland. If they want to get more specific, I'll give the actual locations for growing up (PG County) and living now (Montgomery County). Both are DC suburbs, so I feel ties to the city even though I was not born there, was not raised there, and have never lived there.
John Kelly: That sounds like a flexible solution.
Next time you're in church, open the hymnal and read the hymn titles. End them all with "under the covers". Good times!
John Kelly: I expect to see ALL of you in church on Sunday. Even the Blue Staters.
Re: Petworth, Washington, D.C.:
The poster was right in that the whole argument isn't like high school at all. High schoolers have much more intelligent conversations (like who's going out with who, and how the school football team did last weekend). The whole who gets to be called a Washingtonian thing is much more elementary school-ish (we don't want to insult middle schoolers).
John Kelly: I never expected to come up with an answer to this question, just to poke at it a little bit. I find it interesting. You can call it pride, which is a good thing. Or you can call it hubris, which isn't. You can call it one-upmanship, which is just pathetic. I don't like any argument that hinges on "I'm more X than you." Still, no one would say that someone from Gaithersburg should have a say in what happens in Petworth. And DC's strange political existence--no voting representation in our nation's capital!--just makes the whole thing more piquant. A good idea would be for more people from Arlington to check out Petworth and more people from Petworth to check out Arlington. If everyone promises to behave.
John Kelly: And with that, I'm done for the day. Though my column will be dark next week, I'm not going anywhere. I'll still be at my desk, toiling away to prepare for the Children's Hospital campaign. I expect you all to donate. Have a good weekend and a great Thanksgiving. E-mail me with any thoughts: firstname.lastname@example.org.
And be tolerant, of overcooked turkey, and each other.
Confess. You Googled the lyrics.
John Kelly: Well, I knew a few of them....
Mem'ries, may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...
the way we were...