Most people cannot recall what happened to them on their twenty-first birthday. There are usually two reasons why: alcohol, shame, or sometimes both. People are usually surrounded by their friends enjoying the last real right of passage next to getting married. Your friends are supposed to show you a good time and look out for you. They are supposed to be a safety net.
Most people will tell you about their twenty-first birthday, but they wouldn’t dare write about it or commit it to paper. They really wouldn’t do it if they thought there might be a chance that family members would read about it. What would they say if they knew that some of the first people to read about it would be their parents? I guess I’m about to find out…
But before I begin, here is the Briefs from June 10, 2000… the day before my twenty-first birthday. I finished them and emailed just prior to going out on the town for my birthday.
The Washington Briefs #2
This is issue number two of the Washington Briefs. The Phi Theta Kappa group no longer resembles a group of interns, but more of a group on MTV’s Real World. By Friday afternoon, we had several females at each others throats over minor issues. Problems are still occurring, but we’ve given up hope on the dreams of a Utopian society in the JBKO Hall. My only question now is does anyone have MTV’s number?
Some of my readers complained that I wasn’t delivering “juicy” enough information about Washington, D.C. My response is that I’m saving it for my tell all book to be written after this summer. So buy the book! Now on to my life in D.C. and my roommate…
My roommate’s name is Matt and he is from Kansas City, Missouri. Matt is a journalism major and can be quite cynical at times, but not in a bad way. I hope to be lucky enough to have a roommate like Matt in Montevallo this Fall. We probably get along better than any other set of roommates with the Phi Theta Kappa group.
Now on to America’s Promise… The staff at America’s Promise is for the most part the post-college crowd (as in graduated in the last five years). It is a very inviting environment and reminds me sometimes of the ESPN office (Well, at least the commercials on ESPN portray). The only thing free for me on this internship is provided by America’s Promise… and that is lunch. Lunch is delivered every day at noon. Lunch time is probably the most interesting time of the day. It’s the time of day when the massacre begins. It is when the scout spots lunch, then the calvary charges in and leaves no prisoners. It reminds me of my early days filing when the clock hit 10:45 a.m. You never wanted to get caught in the hallway. Next issue I will talk a little more about the staff…
Now onto tonight… Tonight I leave my dorm as a minor and comeback as a legal adult. In other words, at midnight, I turn twenty-one. yes, that means no longer getting the X’s on the hand at a dance club. That also means that the rest of D.C. land opens up to me. Well I will leave with this…have a wonderful week and wish me safe passage tonight!
Goodnight and Godbless… Always, sometimes, but not necessarily,
Jeffrey A. Purvis
Next Issue I will talk about the Fascist Cleaners and my surprise birthday party!
P.S. Happy Birthday Carolyn!
I had written most of this entry a couple of days in advance. I’ve already touched on some parts of what was in the email in earlier posts. I will explain the whole MTV Real World situation and go into more detail about my time at America’s Promise in later posts. But for now, as promised, my twenty-first birthday in shameless detail…
Everybody looks forward to birthdays when they are young. The younger part of the Phi Theta Kappan contingent was excited about my birthday. Most of these people I had known less than a week. However, a birthday is a great excuse to party.
The famous Eastern Market… One of my favorite places to visit in D.C.
My twenty-first birthday celebration began a day early with an afternoon visit to Washington D.C.’s Eastern Market. On Saturdays, the Eastern Market hosted a very nice farmers’ market. I would go back to this market several times during my stay in Washington to get fresh meat and vegetables. On this particular day, I was on the hunt for a beer stein. I wanted something large and manly from which to drink. At this point we were not sure whether we were going out or partying in somebodies room. Since I could not have my friends from back home, I wanted to have something unique as reminder of my special day. After scavenging through the market, I found something that wasn’t a beer stein… but close. I paid ten dollars for my “find” and christened it the “Alabama Shot Glass.”
That evening I went out to eat with my new friend Jonathan from Texas. Everyone else opted to eat back at the dorm. Jonathan was a very quiet, reserved, and optimistic nineteen year old. He had just completed Community College, but was trying to get an appointment to the Naval Academy. We had spent several of the previous afternoons exploring Georgetown and eating at various local establishments. The lack of a dependable, reasonably priced grocery store made cooking dinner less appealing and eating out more worthwhile.
The Red Lion: Famous for burgers and weird waiters…
We went to a local burger joint called The Red Lion just down the street from our hall. I ordered a burger and beer. When the guy ID’ed me you would have thought I had won the lottery. At first I thought I was going to get in trouble because he kind of wigged out about the date on my driver’s license. He was trying to do the math, but whatever illicit substance he was on kept him from doing it for a good thirty seconds. He just kept glancing at my license then me. He finally said, “Dude, this is going to be the most awesome night of your life!” Every time he came back to my table he was giddy like a little school girl asking if I wanted another beer. It turns out the guy wasn’t the brightest… he didn’t charge me for my beer and I my twenty-first birthday was still five hours away. I still appreciated his enthusiasm and my free beer. Dear mom and dad… this was the only time your son ordered and was served a beer underage.
That evening, I decided I wanted to spend my twenty-first birthday inside a dance club and not a dorm room. I ruled out a bar because many of those who actually wanted to participate were not twenty one yet. With the assistant of the hall director, Rachel, an 18 and up club was found approximately ten blocks away. Rachel was so kind that she offered to personally take us there.
An old flyer for Club Zei. The Club closed down in 2001.
At 1o:30 p.m., around twelve us hopped on the Metro and headed to Club Zei. It was located in an old power substation and had a strict dress code. I felt like I was dressing for work when I was getting ready to go out. We arrived at around 11 p.m. and began the process of waiting in line. Around 11:45, we finally reached the front door. The guy looked at my ID and began to mark me with those dreaded X’s. I pleaded with the guy and he said I wasn’t twenty one yet. I remember saying “Do you really think I can go inside, get drunk, and leave here in fifteen minutes? I’m not that awesome…” He laughed and gave me a wristband… and saved me ten dollars on the price of admission. It only cost me fifteen instead of twenty five.
The club (no longer in existence) was one of the coolest I ever visited. It was radiating energy (and probably pure oxygen) from the minute we walked in until we left. On Saturday nights it hosted the Club Glow dance party. The main room was a large atrium and the ceilings were around forty feet high. On the side of the main dance floor were two additional dance floors… one on the second floor and the other on the third floor.
Prior to going to the club, everybody was saying how they were going to buy me a drink and how I wasn’t going to remember a thing in the morning. It’s amazing how things change when you find out that even well drinks are ten bucks. It turned from a get Jeff drunk party into every man and woman for themselves. The first thing I did when I got inside the club was order myself a Long Island Ice Tea and then headed to the dance floor.
If you hang around me long enough, you will hear me talk about living in “moments.” Every time I have gone to a dance club in the last twelve years, I’ve tried to recreate the feeling or the “moments” I had for the next three and a half hours on the dance floor at Club Zei. Sadly, nothing else has ever come close to it. The crowd was electric, the music was well mixed European Trance, and my friend Stani danced with me the whole night. One of the things that the club did was have a cascade of bubbles floating from above onto the crowd. Apparently, the chemicals in the glow sticks was mixed with the bubble mix. When the bubbles burst, it sprinkled on the crowd. So everyone was glowing… hence the name Glow Club.
I danced on the main floor for the whole three and half hour period except when I was getting a drink. At the end of the night, there was only six or seven of us left at the club… Rachel and I were the only ones not drunk. The bad thing about being in Washington, D.C., after 2 a.m. is that the Metro no longer runs. The other bad thing is being with broke, drunk interns who cannot afford a cab. We walked the ten blocks back at 3:30 in the morning.
A pint glass (16 oz.) from Avondale Brewery… next to the “infamous” Alabama Shot Glass…
Walking ten blocks with drunk, loud people is entertaining and frustrating at the same time. They wanted to talk to every person we passed. Luckily, none of my “friends” were mean drunks and trying to start fights. So most of the people they tried to talk to just played along and laughed in passing. The only real situation occurred while walking through a park full of homeless people sleeping. I can tell you from first hand experience that it is extremely funny, but sad to watch a homeless person “bitch out” a drunk party goer for interrupting their sleep.
We arrived back at JBKO Hall shortly before 4:30 a.m. Rachel and myself got everyone back to their rooms and then went to the rooftop of the Hall. From the top of the hall (nine floors up) you could see across the Potomac River and most of D.C. We sat up there talking and laughing in lounge chairs for the next hour, waiting for the sun. After watching her rise in the East, I went back to my room and slept until she began descending in the West. To be honest, I actually don’t remember about my birthday because I slept through it.
Next Time: The Fascist Cleaners…