I’ll Drink to That

An interesting interview in the New York Times caused some early morning musing today (see the link to the article below).

I tended bar for three years around the corner from The Round Robin Bar in Washington D.C. (where the afore-mentioned interview took place) in the mid-to-late 1970s, serving classic cocktails to many government and military employees, embassy workers, as well as staffers from the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. It was a gift to grow up in and live in our nation’s capital where diversity is everywhere–always has been. Among the fascinating experiences was meeting and getting to know permanent White House staff (a regular customer was a White House butler) and Secret Service personnel. The Texans came on duty with LBJ, the Californians with Nixon, and then there was an entirely new generation with Jimmy Carter. The Carterites tended to navigate to the bars around George Washington University near Washington Circle, or Georgetown. But occasionally, we would serve a group of West Wing staff and congressional interns hanging out with cheap pitchers of beer on our sidewalk cafe, tousled-haired men with ties loosened, women with their sling-back heels off, enjoying the sunset over Pennsylvania Avenue.

It was a good time to be a young adult. Cocaine and other recreational drugs hadn’t thoroughly infiltrated the service trade yet. The White House was not closed off to traffic, and you could sit on a bench in Lafayette Park with your bag lunch and a bottle of soda and listen to the “protester-of-the-day,” watching people walk in circles, chanting: political theater, democracy-at-work entertainment. But things got ugly the year the Shah of Iran was deposed. One of our workers, here from Iran on a “petroleum engineer” scholarship, told stories of marching with hoods on their heads so the royal hitmen would not kill them, or persecute their family back home, or follow them home or to work so the Shah’s supporters could report protesting students’ addresses to immigration and get their student visas rescinded.

For my children: the current world crises of energy/environment, middle east and third world conflicts, paranoia over who is a terrorist and under what guise or avenue they get here, are not new. We grew up with these issues also.

Building a wall or closing the government is a lazy and foolish approach to world problems. Only through diversity and respectful consideration can we come together. Let’s agree to disagree, be respectful of each other’s differences, and find our common humanity.

I know, I know, easier said than done. Ally and David–we need a cocktail for this, metaphorically, and for imbibement. Maybe that’s an excellent place to start: an end of day conversation over a pitcher of refreshments as the light wanes. I’ve heard worse ideas recently.

Cheers, everybody!

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