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Monday, May 4, 2009


A while back three of my best friends from college (Al, Steve and John) and I really wanted to hang out for a weekend like the old days.  Stay up way too late and drink too much beer.  We came up with this idea, a vacation where we all get together once a year and relive the glory days, dubbed Mancation.  

This year was our 1st Annual Mancation Event and I would have to say it was quite a success.  The location was Washington D.C. and the surrounding suburbs.  We stayed 5 nights with Steve in his Bethesda, Maryland apartment and had a raucous time.  This post will try to encapsulate the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of this ode to manhood.

Al and I arrive by plane to Washington D.C. airport to find that our ride (Steve and John) is 
still at the bar and that we need to take the metro to Steve's place.  For me this is no big deal, navigating the metro can be fun, but I am really looking forward to the first beer of the trip and the 30+ minute metro ride seems too long.  The upside is that Steve had previously purchased metro cards for all three of us before we arrived so all our rides the whole week cost us nothing.

Al and I get off the metro at the correct station just outside Bethesda and Steve and John are waiting for us.  We head upstairs to Steve's apartment and ditch our bags but decide to stay in 
due to the large amount of beer already in the fridge and because Steve has to work the next morning.  Steve has taken a picture of us from the first year homecoming at our school and framed it with quotes from a Bowling for Soup song about friendship for all of us.  A little questionable but a very nice gesture (the picture is now propped on my dresser in my bedroom).  So we all start drinking pretty heavily, and end up deciding the song of the trip is "Single Lady" by Beyonce.  We start the Swingers and I fall asleep on the couch in my clothes.

Day 2

I wake up with a pounding headache, probably from the Stella, and turn on the giant TV in Steve's living room.  Al and John wake up and we decide to head downtown to take a self guided walking tour of our nation's capital.  We get off at the Chinatown metro stop and walk for 10 minutes in the wrong direction before walking back through the convention center and a teacher conference and back in the right direction.  

Our first stop is the Capital building.  It is huge and there is a reflecting pool in front of it that we stopped by to take some pictures.  We toyed with the idea of trying to vote on  some bills but we still had a lot to see and it was already 1pm.  Our next stop is the mall.  We walk from the capital building to the Washington Monument and decide the line is too long to wait to go up it.  Then we walk over to the Thomas Jefferson Memorial, which is across the street, around a lake and up a bunch of stairs.  We have to take the same route back the Washington Monument and then over to the Lincoln Memorial, where the only thing we were missing were suits and a couple bottles of champagne.  Next on our tour was the White House.  We stopped in front and got a great view from Pennsylvania Ave.  I think we saw snipers on the rooftop but I am cannot confirm that.

Throughout our whole trip we were looking for something good to eat.  It was now close to 4pm and the three of us had not had anything to eat the whole day.  Needless to say we were a little cranky and couldn't decide if we wanted to eat at the Spy Museum or the over priced seafood place across the street.  So we did what guys always do.  We went to an Irish Pub called Fado.  Fado was slow, there was like one other group in there and they were sitting at the bar in work clothes.  So we grab a seat and some sandwiches and a couple beers.  Steve gets off work and meets us down there for some more beers.  My headache is now gone and my buzz is buzzing.  The food was great and now I am ready for the night.  

We stop at a beer store and grab some beer and champagne (for our non existent attempt to reenact Wedding Crashers) and head back to Steve's.  There we all shower and wash up for a night out in Georgetown, one of the D.C.'s many college towns.  Our cab ride takes forever but we get there and proceed to the nearest bar where we are approached by two Miller 64 girls.  They gave us some free t-shirts and bought us a round of Miller 64 just for buying our own round of 64.  We tried to find out where they were going after but they were hesitant so we let it go.  The next bar we go to has a special on Stella and a piano man.  We stay here a while and end up hearing a bunch of our requests including such greats as "Walking in Memphis,"  "Wagon Wheel," and others.  The piano guy ends his set but we are still in the party mode so we head to one more bar... we think.  At the next bar we are seated and I am getting pretty hungry.  The waitress informs me that they offer free cornbread for customers.  After a while, and still no cornbread, we flag her down to ask what's the deal.  She tells me that the cooks just tossed all the cornbread out for the night.  I proceed to think about how hard it would be to fish it out of the dumpster out back if need be... we leave this bar for another last stop.

At our last stop I think we are able to get one drink from Brad the bartender who tells us that we also have to leave.  So we slam our last drinks and head for the door and a cab back to Steve's.  That's all I remember, but apparently the cab ride back was about half as long and cost half as much as the cab ride down there.  And I know that Steve was late for work the next morning, but Steve does what he wants... and what.

Day 3

I have heard that D.C. has the highest Ethiopian population of any U.S. city and is known for authentic Ethiopian restaurants.  Today we will experience one of these restaurants in a popular suburb of D.C. called Adams Morgan.  So with my morning hangover still fresh we take the metro to Adams Morgan in search of an Ethiopian restaurant.  We find one on the main strip of the town and sit down on their patio to order.  Open air dining was important for John.  We each order our own food but it gets served to us on the same plate with what we called "spongy bathroom towel bread" underneath.  We are also give our own piece of dirty towel bread each on a plate.  Next our waitress brings out our food, each in their own bowls, and pours them on the spongy bread in the middle of us.  We are encouraged to tear off pieces of spongy bread and pick up the food with it... we share our food.

Meanwhile, I am sucking down the water until our waitress just leaves the pitcher on our table and John is trying to find out how to pay for our meal.  What happened next is probably the weirdest experience I have had while dining.  Al and I are sitting at the table minding our own when what appears to be a homeless man walks up and asks us for 30 cents.  We tell him we don't have any money on us, which is true since I used my debit card the whole trip.  The man then says, 

"Well, can I try some of that then?" pointing at the Ethiopian food still sitting on the table.  We said he could, but it didn't end there.  

He then asks Al, "Could you make it up for me in like a wrap?"  

So Al starts wrapping it and this guys yells, "No no no, not that much!"

The man then proceeds to take Al's knife, cut the wrap in half, and steal John's dirty napkin to hold it in.

"Mmmmm, this is good.  I just wanted a little... to see if I like the sauce.  I have never had this before" said the man before the bus drives by and he goes nuts, "Oh no!" and takes off down the street.

Al and I look at each other and start cracking up.  John missed the whole thing.

After lunch we meet Steve at this 1/2 off margarita joint by the metro stop and have a few margaritas served by a very exotic waitress.  Then we head back to Steve's for some beers, a shower and another metro ride back to Adams Morgan.  It is there we spend the whole night at Madam's Organ... clever name.  

Madam's Organ Blues Bar

We get our fill of Miller Lite and Vodka Red Bulls and make fun of the tiny airplane sized bathroom.  It is here that we also meet an addition to mancation named Dave.  Dave is a friend of Steve and John and also lives in the D.C. area.  He will join us for day 4 we decide.

On the way home from Adams Morgan we decide to start clapping 7th inning baseball style.  This is also the trip on which metro surfing is born.  Metro surfing can happen anywhere and at any time.  It consists of riding the D.C. metro, or any other metro without holding on to any supporting apparatus.  And under no circumstances are you allowed to sit down while metro surfing.  Surf's up!

Day 4

Our last full day on Mancation.  Our bar crawl through Bethesda, called the Back 9 Bar Crawl, starts at 2pm at Union Jack's.  We pay our entry fee and receive a score card with 9 bars on it.  We must visit each bar and get a stamp from the bartender before meeting with the bar crawl organizers at the final bar The Barking Dog.  It is there we will be able to enter ourselves in the drawing for iPod shuffles.

At the Union Jack we all order some food.  During this trip I ate about an average of 1.5 meals per day, but managed to gain 5 lbs.  In no way was it the massive amounts of beer.  After about 3 beers we decide to press on.  The next bar is the Hard Times Cafe and is kind of a bust.  We stay for one beer and head out.  I think there was a 10 year olds birthday being celebrated there.  

Being on the bar crawl did have its perks.  We were able to drink $2 Miller Lites and $3 Yuenglings all day long at every bar.  Sapphire has outdoor seating and we have a few rounds there before pushing on.  Next is the seafood bar where we stay for one beer.  Then comes The Harp and Fiddle.  After that it is The Blackfinn (there is one of these in Royal Oak) and then the Wing Hub (which was a cross between a fast food wing place and an outside music venue that serves beer.)  Tommy John's or Joe's or whatever, TJ's was next and was probably the best bar.  They had an open air courtyard bar with beer pong tables and the bean bag toss game also known as cornhole.  Steve and Al take over the cornhole game and decide that they win every game no matter what.  I think they even made up their own scoring system.  

We leave TJ's and vow to return after the drawing at the Barking Dog, the last bar.  It is here that I started to order food.  Chicken tenders, crab cakes and nachos plus a ton of beers and we are all ready to head back to TJ's.  John wins the iPod shuffle, which is completely unfair because he is already the tallest and best looking of the 5 of us, and Dave takes off for home.  But we pick up a few of Steve's friends from work and head back to TJ's.

I have had about all the beer I can drink and Al and I head home, but not before we convince everyone in the bar, including John's exotic lady, that we are a gay couple celebrating our upcoming wedding.  John's girl confesses that she thought we were all gay, she had been running into us all over the bar crawl.  Pictures from the bar crawl can be seen here, but this is the best pic of all.

2nd Annual Bethesda Back 9 Bar Crawl (112) by leftfieldentertainment.

When Al and I return to Steve's I make some pizza rolls and promptly fall asleep, with the pizza rolls in front of my face.  Al fell asleep with a beer in his hand and that is that.  

Day 5

We all wake up in anticipation of our Sunday ritual.  In college, after a Saturday night of partying, we would order cheap chinese take-out and watch a movie, dreading the work we had to do before Monday morning.  Nothing has changed.  The only chinese place that would deliver didn't offer lunch specials on Sunday, but oh well, it's mancation.  The movie...Pineapple Express.  

Our plane leaves D.C. at 4:35pm and we get on the metro at Steve's stop, 30-40 minutes away at 3:30pm.  We make it to the yellow line (the one that takes you to the airport) at about 3:45pm.  It drops us off at the airport around 4:15pm.  We check in at the desk at 4:20pm and are the last ones on the bus that taxis us out to the plane.

Mancation was over, but we almost got to stay an extra day.  Next year will be the 2nd Annual Mancation, "Walking in Memphis" taking place in Memphis at John's.  I doubt that it will be as long as our first, and we are planning on including some more friends.  Plus John has a high standard as host to live up to after Steve's over the top performance.  Thanks boys and here's to the next step!

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