Among the leisure statistics our staff pored over, one number stood out like a sore thumb, at least to me. That was the 30 percent of respondents between ages 18 and 29 who said that they typically had too little to do on the average weekend.
Too little to do? Who were these people and where do they live? From my stoop, which is within a short walk of 18th Street and Columbia Road NW -- the throbbing nerve center of party-hearty Adams Morgan -- it sometimes seems as if there isn't a young person alive who hasn't decided to camp out in my neighborhood between Friday night and Sunday morning. Seduced by the media image of the text-message-happy, iPod-wearing mobile hipster, it appears to me to be the 18- to 29-year-olds who are having all the fun and who are forever deciding between five different options to do every second of the day. It's clearly not my age bracket (which, let's just say, is on the far side of this golden demographic).
Erik Naumann is one who "very often" finds himself wishing he had done more over the weekend. The 25-year-old Web designer believes the reasons why he and a substantial number of his peers find themselves with more leisure time than they know what to do with are complicated. First, he says, is the been-there, done-that syndrome.
"For the most part, a lot of things to do, I've done before." Going out drinking, for example, doesn't hold the allure it once did, considering that Naumann got that out of his system in -- ahem -- high school. "Most of the people I know went through that phase at 15 and 16 years old, and have moved on." As for area museums, whose blockbuster shows Naumann says he tries to keep up with, it isn't every weekend that something comes along like the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden's "Dali's Optical Illusions." And movies? Other than a recent fluke -- Naumann and his pals saw "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" -- he says he can't name the last movie he saw in a theater. "Wow," he says, "it was quite a long time ago." The way he sees it, it's cheaper, less of a hassle and more comfortable to watch a DVD.
Speaking of hassle, the Fairfax resident cites traffic and parking headaches as the chief reasons to avoid urban neighborhoods like mine. Although he sometimes enjoys the mellow vibe of the Black Cat nightclub on 14th Street, Naumann hates having to sit on Interstate 66 for up to 90 minutes just to get together with friends. What's more, like many of his middle-aged neighbors, Naumann's free time is increasingly taken up with the "annoying chores" he wasn't able to get done during the week.
Alex Yoctorowic lives considerably closer to the action -- the 18-year-old is a stone's throw from the Congress Heights Metro -- but he, too, laments not having enough options. Like Naumann, he's not much of a moviegoer, having avoided the theaters since "The Matrix Revolutions" last fall. (Hmmm, maybe that's reason enough.) Still, he says, it would be nice if there were a theater a little more convenient to Southeast than Union Station, where most of his friends go.
Yoctorowic is really more of a music fan anyway, which is why it hurt when Unifest, a two-day street celebration of Washington's African American culture that has taken place in Anacostia since 1983, with free entertainment, food and rides, was canceled this past spring in favor of a walkathon meant to call attention to street violence.
Is it possible, though, there could be some underlying psychological reason (other than lack of easy access to entertainment options) contributing to some of this inertia? Naumann, for one, admits the possibility, saying he could move into the city if he wanted to, but probably never, ever will. He says he hears it's a real hassle to get your car inspected. "And yes, I'm actually that lazy."
-- Michael O'Sullivan