Last Saturday, my wife and I were out and about late in the afternoon, and the question of dinner came up. On this day, I was in the mood for some serious food.
After searching my Zagat-oriented mind for a few minutes, I had an epiphany: Georgia Brown’s – a high-end eatery within walking distance of the White House that we hadn’t visited for at least a year.
Georgia Brown’s is one of those rare restaurants whose food and service actually justify their Trump-size prices. Their Southern-style cuisine is incredible – and loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol.
So much so that I’m surprised Congress hasn’t passed a law requiring Georgia Brown’s to keep a couple of paramedic vehicles ready and waiting out front during business hours. That way, high-risk patrons could be shuttled straight to the nearest hospital rather than taking the trouble to go home before having a heart attack.
But who has time to think about a heart attack when there’s cornbread, fried green tomatoes, crispy chicken livers and andouille sausage staring you in the face? Besides, is there any better way to die than face down in a mound of cinnamon ice cream sitting atop a hot apple cobbler?
Just as I was beginning to picture the upcoming food-fest in my mind, my wife reminded me that, to avoid a long wait, you need to make reservations well in advance if you want to be seated in the main dining room. To which I chuckled and replied, “You don’t have to worry about that anymore. Since the invisible depression has become visible for all to see, restaurants are bleeding customers. At 6:30 p.m., the place will be half empty.”
Confidently, I drove briskly down K Street, turned right on 15th and pulled up in front of Georgia Brown’s. After handing the attendant the $8 valet-parking fee (advance payment mandatory, of course), we entered the restaurant. It was packed!
The maitre d’ told us it would be at least an hour’s wait, but we were in luck: There was a tiny, round-top table open in the bar area, where it’s first-come, first-served. My pride wanted to leave, but my taste buds and curiosity overruled. How could an expensive restaurant like this be so crowded at 6:30 p.m. in the midst of an economic holocaust?
As I studied the display of gluttony, the sipping of top-shelf beverages and the laughter-laden chatter, it came to me. I had forgotten one little detail while arguing my case for a decline in patronage at Georgia Brown’s: Washington is a depression-proof town – especially when it comes to fine dining.
Why? Because most people work for the government! Which means they not only make many times what they could earn in the private sector, for all practical purposes they also can’t be fired.
If you’ve always hoped to be reincarnated as a Jewish princess, you’re selling yourself short. Trust me, if you’re going to come back, pray that it’s as a member of the Inside the Beltway Privileged Class. These people live in a glass bubble – a totally different world from that of folks who have to produce better goods and services to get ahead in life.
While men and women in Des Moines and Birmingham and Kansas City are losing their jobs, their homes and their savings, the people aboard the D.C. Good Life Express are continuing to live in the style to which they have become accustomed. They are the chief recipients of the print-borrow-tax con that has bankrupted the country and caused millions of outside-the-Beltway folks untold pain.
When the masses descend upon the nation’s capital to gawk at the Washington and Lincoln monuments, visit the Smithsonian Institution, and feast on hot dogs and Cokes while reading the names on the Vietnam Memorial, they haven’t a clue about what life is like for the people who work and live in the nation’s capital.
They would have a hard time believing that the workers inside all those somber gray government buildings dine at expensive gourmet restaurants as a regular way of life. Ah, well … as they say, what you don’t know won’t hurt you.
And speaking of not knowing, after dinner at Georgia Brown’s, while waiting in the vestibule between the inner and outer doors for the valet to bring our car, a nice looking African-American fellow – probably no more than 30 years old – struck up a conversation with us.
He said he had been in a meeting with President Obama at the White House that very day as part of some black coalition or something. He was obviously very proud of the fact that he had met with the president, so, as a friendly gesture, I asked him what his perception of the man was.
Enthusiastically, he said, “Both President Obama and his wife are exceptionally warm, magnetic people.” You would have been proud of me. I conjured up self-discipline I didn’t know I possessed and refrained from playfully saying, “Aha … so that’s it. They’re using magnets to pilfer our pie. How clever. I never would have thought of that. Hmm … how does that work, anyway?”
Thankfully, the valet pulled our car up to the curb before I lost control and said those words out loud. Whereupon we wished the young man a good evening, slipped into our greenhouse-gas machine and drove away.
As we disappeared into the night, I said to my wife, “You know, someday I should become a writer.”
“You’re already are a writer,” she reminded me.
“Oh, good,” I said. “Because I can’t imagine how I’d get by if I weren’t able to communicate with people who are serious about separating reality from illusion.”
P.S. If you come to Washington and decide to dine at Georgia Brown’s, do make reservations in advance. Remember, there is no depression inside the Beltway. Enjoy the grits – and, even more important, be sure to closely observe what’s going on around you. Even Ayn Rand wouldn’t believe it.