Like many other Yalies, I spent the summer working hard to save the world in my own little way. Some do it by serving the poor in the developing world, others by promoting prudent environmental policies, and still others by playing fantasy baseball and reading tabloids online at work. My work involved the promotion of sensible housing policy throughout the country as an intern at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was an amazing experience, but I offer observations today on a considerably less significant issue somewhat loosely tied to my summer job: the fabled social life of a summer intern in Washington, D.C.
Now, the intern community has made quite a name for itself in the past several years as a result of Monica Lewinsky and her collection of blue cocktail dresses and the newest member of the notorious intern club, the D.C. sex blogger. Fortunately, I avoided involvement in scandals of any sort. I did, unwittingly, fall into the routine of a person with a real job: early to bed and early to rise, wearing suits to work, riding the subway, getting a kick out of tourists and their fanny packs, and acquiring an unusual affinity for drink specials at happy hour. Nothing was more exciting on a Wednesday evening than $3 Miller Lites at Tom Tom.
The bar scene in D.C. is an Elysium of sorts for young 20-somethings. Hordes of interns head for the watering holes every day, most of them exceedingly attractive, a fact that my feeble mind found overwhelming most of the time. And with ambitious, well-dressed young politicos sucking down cheap beer everywhere you look, sexual tension follows naturally.
Speaking of which, for all their articulateness at explaining the intricate details of federal agriculture subsidies, for example, the vast majority of these politicos, myself included, have no ability whatsoever to have a normal conversation with a member of the opposite sex (or the same sex, if that’s your bag) in a bar.
The first conversation you have with a potential partner (boy, I really hate this political correctness movement) should never be about politics. The likelihood of a violent argument is rather high. But in D.C., you have no choice. Every discussion is colored by politics of some sort simply because of where you are, and avoiding it is impossible. I made this mistake several times. My worst offense came in a bar where for some stupid reason I attempted to debate a socialist about the impracticality of nationalized health care. Needless to say, after several drinks, my end of the argument didn’t go so well. Worse still, I think I ended up spending a bunch of money buying her drinks because, well, failing to make a coherent point with a pretty girl is better than not attempting to fail to make a coherent point with a pretty girl at all.
Another tip: even though a Republican administration is in power at the moment, it’s never a good idea to reveal that you are a Republican (at least to a young female). This will almost always end in disaster. Girls like punk rockers and artists and sketchy foreigners — or so pop culture tells me. Saying that you’re a proud member of the establishment instantly destroys your credibility as “cool,” as a rebel. Something tells me James Dean would not have supported a flat tax.
The opening line is crucial to your success. Here are two that don’t work — “I’m a red-state sort of guy. How about yourself?” and “I’m planning on voting for the president in November. And you?” I’m not entirely sure whether these are bombs because they voice conservative sentiment or because they are really lame pick-up lines. They are, however, a sure bet to entertain your buddies on the other end of the bar as you crash and burn before a table of beautiful women. If someone can parlay the “red-state” line into a phone number or a date here in the ‘Have, he should probably get a professorship here teaching “Game Theory.” (I’ve been waiting to make that joke for a long time.)
Sadly for conservatives at Yale, it looks like it may be a lonely fall. To read the sidewalk chalk on campus — a most effective tool of political discourse, I might add — you’d think that the seven horsemen of the Apocalypse will be arriving on Earth if President Bush is re-elected. And that they’ll be serving in his cabinet. Well, as a “red-state sort of guy,” I regret to inform these sidewalks that most places between Philadelphia and Las Vegas tend to see this Apocalypse as an accomplice of a blue-state victory. In fact, I may just ask my mother to send out my big tub of sidewalk chalk so that I can let the footpaths here on campus know where I stand on the issues.
But hey, if you’ll give me your phone number, you better believe I’ll be a newfound convert to nationalized healthcare.
Robby Schrum likes purple chalk, cheap drinks and elephants — except when in essays by Orwell.