The first annual drinking man's tour of the Metro Blue Line was held Wednesday by a group of 10 Washington businessmen.
The dress code of the day was relaxed. Instead of the banker's pinstripe or the Brooks look, most showed up wearing blazers and slacks, along with the look of a kid who is doing something wrong.
Which they were: playing, hookey from the office, with their loyal secretaries under orders to say, "He is gone for the day" or "Mr. Watshisname is in deep conference."
They were friends from college 20 years ago, with families and children old enough to be in high school or colllege and most would have frowned upon their kids doing the same thing.
The meeting place to start the tour was at the bar of the Capitol Hill Club. Beer, bloody marys and a few scotches helped destroy and pangs of guilt and moved the group to a festival mood.
"We owe this to ourselves," were the words of the ringleader. "What the hell. I have a clean desk and would probably spend the afternoon practicing my back stroke."
The organizer and spokesman - who shall remain anonymous - said, "Most of us ride the Blue Line every day.We finish up here on the Hill and get off at some stop in Virginia. We became curious. At each stop underground we asked each other, "What's up there?"
The first stop from Capitol South to find out "what's up there?" was L'Enfant Plaza. On reaching the surface they all began looking and pointing in different directions like a troop of lost Boy Scouts.
"Where are we? This is crazy. Where's the nearest bar?"
Danker's, a restaurant almost hidden in a 1984 Orwellian scene midst thousands of tons of cement and brick was not a bad place to have a drink.
The waitress seemed relieved when the large round table of people said they were going to have only a drink and not lunch.
Former Superior Court Judge Harry T. Alexander looked splendid standing near the door, wearing a soft panama hat with a wide brim turned down all around.
"Look at that guy," one of the tour members said. "That's a great hat." Then "Hey, how much you want for that hat?"
Liking the spirit of the table, Alexander came over to say, "Fifty dollars."
"Let me try it on. I'll give you a cold $25."
The hat was passed around the table as each member of the party tried to look rakish. But nobody could match Alexander, who was invited to join the party for a drink. He took a rain check.
Back at the Metro the hookey players were in a good mood, having fun working the Fare-Card machines and comparing them to children's games they once played.
"Look, all I need is a quarter to get out of here and the light flashes saying, 'See the Attendant,' and there is no attendant around."
"Okay," another hookey player said, "go back to start."
"What can a person do if he doesn't have enough money to get out of Metro?" one asked.
"What a way to panhandle," was the loud thought of a group member. "Everyone has a quarter. You could stand all day and ask. 'I need a quarter to get out of here.'"
Two stops were bypassed. No one wanted to get off at the Smithsonian, nor the Federal Center. So the next exit was at McPherson Square.
The Old Ebbitt Grill was a good place for a quick shooter and a hamburger. There somebody suggested Farragut West. "So we can have a drink at the Class Reunion." Not thinking that a brilliant idea, a sneaky watch-peeker started feeling guilt and again became an executive.
"Look, guys, we can walk three or four blocks back to the McPherson Square stop," he said. "The next bar is only a couple of blocks further. This is silly."
A brief discussion ensued as to what the purpose of the expedition was all about. The mutineer was quieted.
A sweet old lady has to be a prop in every scene, and the one who was totally confused by the ticket system and the Red Line and the Blue Line became the adopted mother of this group of corporate executives.
She also became the victim of too much help, but found the line she was looking for.
At Farragut West, Marigold's restaurant was bypassed for looking too wholesome. The Class Reunion was chosen.
A few in the group dropped out, promising to pick up the tour later at another stop.
It was one stop to Foggy Bottom-GWU. It took more walking to get to and from the train than it would have taken to walk directly to the next bar.
The place was called the Intrigue, originally named the Channel House, a place that became well known during Bobby Bakers escapades.
"You should have seen this place, when it was the Channel House," someone remembered. "Big black cars out front and maybe the lowest electrical bill in town. The waitresses could have joined the coal-miners union."
The rest of the tour was discussed and the Arlington Cemetery stop was ruled out.
"Have you ever seen anyone get on or off at that stop?
"It would be a great gag somebody if some old guy wearing a confederate uniform with a long sword dangling from his hip got on and sat down."
Rosslyn was an important stop to see the longest escalator in the Western world. The feeling was that maybe a six-pack was necessary for the long trip up to the surface.
A couple of go-go dancing places were talked about at Crystal City to end the tour, and National Airport was ruled out because everyone knew what was up there.
Reality hit the businessmen when the manager of the Intrigue came in to announce in a loud voice, "Gentlemen, as of five minutes ago, Bert Lance resigned."
The tour was over, but the day of hookey was not ended.
Earlier, at the Capitol Hill Club, Boyd Bashore had shared a drink and said he couldn't go along on the tour. But he wanted everyone to join him on his yacht that he was going to get and anchor off the Watergate.
The yacht "Wampeter," a big fine old memory of elegant living, was just the place to be after a long period underground and sitting this side of the bar.
High-school and college crews raced along on one side. On the other there was bumper-to-bumper traffic.
he officers downtown were now closed. Hookey time had ended and the soft guilt that seemed present throughout the day fell away with the sunset.
The organizer of the tour stood by the rail of the Wampeter sipping a cold beer and watching the traffic.
"I'm beat," he said.
Its hard work playing hookey all day long.