The ritualistic crackdown on the District's "ladies of the night" is about to begin now that the weather is warming up and, in my neighborhood especially, this should be a sight to behold.
I live near 13th and Q streets NW, and never in my life have I seen a bunch of women more tenacious than the ones who have stood on the corner this winter, "hooking" in the freezing rain, sleet and snow.
They operate with such impunity, with such boldness and with so few clothes, that I want to know who their lobbyist is down at city hall.
However, also high up on the determination-scale is the Logan Circle Civic Association, whose driving force is women of another ilk. If anybody can drive the streetwalkers away, they'll do it.
Both groups have serious self-interest at stake here. The civic association is concerned about property values -- renovated homes in the $150,000 and up range. The streetwalkers are concerned about body values -- individual sales that can add up to substantial sums for three or four days work.
Many of these prostitutes are mothers trying to feed their children -- and have a good time. Many of the civic association members are mothers who are trying to rear their children -- and have a good, safe time.
A complicating factor is that members of both groups live in the neighborhood. Although gentrification of the neighborhood is certain to have a long-term effect on who lives around Logan Circle, the fight this spring won't be about driving the prostitutes away. It will be about stopping them from selling sex.
Which is like trying to stop a runaway train.
The hookers seem to know that they are one of the city's biggest convention attractions. From my window, you see a lot of cabdrivers bringing suited men along the strip to pick out what pleases them. Believe me, folks, it doesn't take much to please them.
Now the civic association members are clearly fed up with this, and have made impressive efforts in their various battles against the ladies of the night. For instance, they have complained loud enough and long enough so that on each Friday night D.C. police block off some streets leading into Logan and Thomas circles.
Anybody caught driving through the blockades gets hit with a $500 fine. Of course, folks at the nearby Barrel House Liquors at 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue say this has cut their business by as much as $2,000 a weekend, and point out that while the blockades stop customers from coming to the store, they don't stop those who patronize the streetwalkers.
The "johns" simply park their cars and go looking on foot. And on the nights when there are no blockades, it's business as usual.
By the hundreds, men drive in from the suburbs at all hours of the night (from my window, midnight to 3 a.m. seems to be a fun time). And by my observations, men from Virginia seem to have the biggest problem. They arrive in teams, more often than not in pickup trucks seated three abreast.
The scenes would be funny if they weren't so pathetic. The cars and/or trucks stop at curbside, often tying up other traffic, as the bartering begins.
It's $50 for this and $70 for that and $100 for this and that, but only for so long.
The men nod, the door flings open and the woman crawls into the truck. An hour or so later she is deposited back on the same corner and, almost immediately, is picked up again.
Last year, civic association members hit the streets with stickers that read something like, "Does your wife know you're roaming 14th Street?," and plastered them on the cars of prospective customers.
Even that didn't stop the johns, and I say if you can't stop the customers, then leave the girls alone. But that's not the way the civic association looks at it, so I've already pulled up my favorite easy chair in anticipation of what may prove to be the main event of the spring season.