Archive for the ‘A Washington Wedding’ Category

I Do.

October 25, 2008

A year ago, I said “I will.”
Today, I’ll say, “I do.”

After the rehearsal and the dinner, after the toasts and the stories, the laughing and the crying, when it was just us back at our house before he headed off to his hotel, we exchanged gifts. He gave me a first edition of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. I swooned and then we chuckled that it was probably best that he hadn’t gone with The End of the Affair. I gave him a late-1800s lithograph depicting small clocks with the times of the world’s major cities. The clocks are arranged in concentric circles around one clock set to the time in D.C. It’s our city. It’s where we came together both as a little family of two and a banana republic of a family that stretches from Texas to Maryland. It’s where one year and seven weeks ago I stood on a corner as he knelt in front of me and asked me if I would.

I will.
I do.

Yeesh, Talk About “‘Til Death Do Us Part”

October 21, 2008

When we first selected our wedding date, people would jokingly ask us if we were doing a Halloween theme. No, of course we were not. However, I’ve recently obtained information that may change all that: the hotel site where we’ll have our reception is haunted. 

Let’s step back a bit.

A couple weeks ago I took my fiancé on a mystery date. Told him to meet me at McCormick & Schmick’s on K and to wear casual clothes. After some oysters and beer, we headed outside to Farragut Square where we gathered with a handful of other curiosity seekers as darkness fell for the Most Haunted Houses D.C. Walking Tour. Surprise! My fiancé loves Washington history so I figured this was right up his alley. I knew it included such historic downtown locations as the White House and the Stephen Decatur House. What I did not know was that it included the hotel where we will celebrate our first day of wedded bliss. Nor did I know that pretty much every stop on the tour would include a tale of marital tragedy or brutal crime. Some highlights:

* The Tailor’s House on Farragut Square
Long story short:  Tailor murders bride and seals her up into the wall. 

* The Decatur House
Long story short: Decatur goes out and gets himself shot in a duel, leaving lovely wife without a husband.

* The Octagon
Yes, there’s a home in D.C. called “The Octagon.” It’s over by GW and is regarded as the most haunted site in D.C. And yes, of course we giggled like girls about the Anchorman connection.
Long story short, Part I: Young woman about to be proposed to by lover in the garden runs down the spiral staircase and takes a header over the low railing.
Long story short, Part II: Her sister disagrees with her father about the man she wants to marry. She takes a header over the low railing. (My advice to this family: those little sticky flowers old people put on the bottom of bathtubs. They’re inexpensive and go a long way toward preventing death and hauntings and such.)

* And finally, the Hay-Adams! 
No, I didn’t know it was on the tour when I booked it. But by the time we started to walk toward it I had already had my delicate noodle so pumped full of stories of men murdering their brides, couples parted by death and what have you that I was cringing. (Oh and a Post photographer was along on our tour covering it for this Friday’s Weekend section and he found our anxiety just hi-larious.) 

Long story long: it’s not actually the hotel that’s haunted, it was one of the two houses located on the site (The Adams House. Things were ducky at the Hay House apparently). Clover Hooper Adams, a Washington society figure in the late 1800s and devoted wife of Henry Adams, was known as a talented writer and photographer until she was found expired on her bedroom floor, having imbibed a potassium cyanide cocktail normally reserved for developing her photographs. But according to our tour guide, (I specifically attribute this theory to the guide in the event that there are still any litigious Adams descendants in town) there was a bit of suspicion cast Henry’s way when he acted oddly afterward. Like, say, when he published his autobiographical The Education of Henry Adams after Clover’s death and omitted his entire marriage to her. Really, can you blame her for haunting the manse? I would have haunted his publisher’s and agent’s houses, too. (Let that be a warning to you, fiancé.) Although Henry did do Clover a solid by commissioning the creepiest statue ever and erecting it in Rock Creek Cemetery in her honor. It stands as an eternal testament to the fact that their relationship was clearly fubar’ed.

Oh and as I watched the tour guide talk about the Hay-Adams location from behind splayed fingers, someone in the group asked what I was thinking. “So is the hotel haunted?” The best the tour guide could come up with was that occasionally lights on the fourth floor flicker on and off. And that a bellman once told her that he opened a wardrobe in one of the rooms one time and a flock of white doves flew out. But I’m going to chalk that up not to a haunting, but rather to a bellman at the hotel once being on acid. 

Anyhoodles, we found the tour suitably creepy and enjoyable. (Although fiancé contended that the Jack the Ripper tour in London was better. “Yes,” I said. “I would imagine that a tour focusing on a madman hacking up hookers in London produced decidedly creepier results than once focusing on chicks who trip and fall over stair railings.”) They run the next two Wednesday nights at 7. It takes about two hours and costs $10. Can’t beat that. Just don’t go if you’re getting married soon.

We Venture Into the Belly of the Beast for Round Three

October 7, 2008

There is a certain euphoric and/or contented look on the face of a man about to be handed a marriage license that will send him on his way to a lifetime of wedded bliss. And there is a certain look on the face of a man who has been forced to get that marriage license from the District of Columbia in a three-month-and-counting, at-times-extralegal process:

Yep, we took lunch hour Number Three today in the hopes that we would actually get our marriage license. (For the time being, I’ve shelved my quest for my $10. Temporarily, I assure you. But my main goal until the wedding is getting the document itself into my tiny clenched fist.) Long story short: we got the license. At least twice during today’s field trip to the Marriage Bureau, our kindly (and genuinely trying to be helpful) helper said, “I couldn’t believe it; it was right after y’all left the other day that we found out the law had changed!” And my fiancé and I just kept exchanging glances that loosely translated to: “Yes, it was right after we left because a city reporter called to find out why you were demanding documentation for a test no longer required by law.” But we stayed silent. The Future Mr. and Mrs. Bridal Bird, smiling politely.

Whilst we were in hellthe Marriage Bureau, they played four songs:

1. “Fire and Rain,” James Taylor – Maudlin tune about Taylor’s own substance abuse and the suicide of a former acquaintance. (Not a girlfriend’s plane crash as folklore would have us believe.) 
Suitability for a marriage license office: -1

2. “If I Can’t Have You,” Yvonne Elliman – Eh, not a bad choice. Obsessive maybe. But could work.  
Suitability for a marriage license office: +1

3. “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay – Are they using this to ascertain if couples are secretly gay, thus preventing them from marrying?
Suitability for a marriage license office: 0

4. “You’re In My Heart,” Rod Stewart – Yes, the song from So I Married an Axe Murderer. Awesome. Someone at the D.C. Marriage Bureau has a sense of humor.
Suitability for a marriage license office: +15

I’ll let Rod sing us out, because seriously, the lyrics to this song are pretty cool when you’re about to get married in 17 days.

The One Where I Will Beat the D.C. Marriage Bureau

October 6, 2008


Longtime readers of the Bird know that I tend not to take a lot of garbage from government entities. For the newcomers, I once got the D.C. Police Department to tow our truck back to our house after parking enforcement erroneously towed it. So it was with great zeal this morning that I added “make someone at the Marriage Bureau cry” to my wedding to-do list in flowery script. Why is that? Grab some popcorn. Settle in. This one is worth the length. Trust me. And spoiler alert: by the end you will likely want to become a Libertarian, swear off marriage in our fair city, or strangle someone. You will come to know that those are the three stages of D.C. government-imposed wedding grief. 

July 15
I call the Marriage Bureau and ascertain that in order to get the license that will usher us into wedded bliss, we will need to get blood tests for syphilis. You remember that, because I wrote about it. We bring our paperwork saying we’re syphilis-free and $10 per person to get the paperwork converted to the “official” blue index card, to the D.C. government Serology Lab. Then we go next door to the Bureau to get the license. I specifically ask the person on the phone how long those tests are valid, explaining that we will likely get them done but then not be able to come get them authorized and get the license for a while because I will be in North Carolina campaigning. “When’s your wedding?” the person at the Marriage Bureau asks me. I tell her Oct. 25. “You’ll be fine,” she said. 

 

 

  No, actually we won’t be. Read on.
  
July 18
I go get my blood test. I detest giving blood. It is awful as always. Test results are mailed to me on a plain piece of paper.

Aug. 5
Fiancé goes and gets his blood test. Test results are handed to him by his doctor on one of the official blue index cards issued by D.C.’s Serology Lab. His doctor tells him that he’s one of the few authorized to directly give the card to patients. 

Sept. 5
Because I am home from the campaign trail, in D.C. for two weekdays only, we decide to go get our marriage license together. Won’t that be romantic?

 

 

 No, it will not be. It will be the start of a total *&$% pain in the @*#&. 

We walk into the Serology Lab to convert my test result paper to the official blue index card. With glee, the bureaucrat behind the reception desk informs me, “No, ma’am, I cannot do that. This test is expired.” She makes sure to accompany this pronouncement with the pursed lips and circular neck motion that has become the universal symbol for “Ha ha, your fancy college degree can’t help you now because you’re in my house.” I tell her that I was informed these tests do not expire by the person I spoke with at the Marriage Bureau before I left. “No, that is not correct,” she says, sending the neck hula hooping again. I begin to hit a voice octave known as Bridal Bird is Displeased and a Tad Emotional, causing a kindly gent to come from the adjacent office to see what the problem is. He informs us that yes, in fact my test is expired and I got bum info, but my fiancé’s is fine because it’s on the official blue index card and that doesn’t expire.

 

 

 Yes, it does. We will learn this later.

My fiancé gallantly points out again that I specifically tried to head this problem off by calling well in advance and explaining that I’d be gone and asking if the tests would expire. Getting nowhere though, we thank him, write down his name, and leave with me still sniffling.

Sept. 6
I haul tail over to my doctor to get blood drawn yet again for this flipping syphilis test. Yet again, I am miserable because I hate having blood drawn. Yet again, I shell out $25 for this service. 

Oct. 2
12 p.m. 

My fiancé and I meet at lunch time for attempt two at getting the marriage license. OK, won’t it be romantic this time?

 

 

 No, it will not. Because after two hours, we will still not have our marriage license.
 

We walk into the Serology Lab to convert my second, unexpired test to the official blue index card. I pay my $10 and we’re on our way. As we head to the Marriage Bureau my fiancé notices that in small script at the bottom of the card it says that the blue card expires on Sept. 4. “It’s OK, I say. [Kindly gent from last month’s freakout] told us it doesn’t really expire. We walk into the Marriage Bureau and wait for for our names to be called.

1:15 p.m.
Our names our called. “Do you have an application filled out?” the woman says eyeballing our hands that contain only the magic blue index cards. “No, nobody told us to,” I reply. NOW we are handed an application while someone leapfrogs us in line.

1:25 p.m.
We finally get to the desk where she begins tapping away, entering our application info into the computer. This takes forever because of some sort of problem she’s having with her computer. Finally she says that she’s all set, writes our reference number down on the application. Then she looks at our blue index cards. “Ohhh,” she says. “I can’t take his. It’s expired.” My fiancé begins the explanation that no, in fact we were informed by the official at the Serology Lab that the official cards don’t expire. Now, it is important to realize one immutable law in the District: when you tell someone at one D.C. government office that someone at another D.C. government office told you a particular piece of information, you might as well phrase it, “Poobedy boo boo in the heeban habben blabbidy blah blah.” Because no piece of information issued within one set of walls in a D.C. government office in any way corresponds to the reality within a different set of D.C. government office walls. She informs us that yes, my fiancé will have to go get a new blood test. It bears mentioning at this point: his blood test cost $100 at his doctor’s office. Between the two of us we are up to $160 in testing and certification fees. Let me repeat that: $160. This is when my fiancé, a normally cool and collected guy, begins strenuously objecting to the Marriage bureaucrat that “The entire system is completely illogical! So we get these tests done today and our wedding’s not for three weeks! What’s to keep us from going out and getting syphilis in those three weeks?!” It is at this point that I hustle him toward the door and a waiting taxi.

2:45 p.m. (my office phone rings. It is my fiancé)
After the afternoon’s fracas, my fiancé walked back into his newsroom and began unloading about the idiocy we’d been dealing with. His colleague, city reporter Michael Neibauer finds all this odd because…wait for it…THE EFFING LAW REQUIRING THE EFFING SYPHILIS TEST EFFING EXPIRED ON SEPT. 11! He begins making calls and learns that, whoops! nobody decided to tell either the Marriage Bureau or the Serology Lab, so for a month, they’ve been putting nice folks like us through the ringer. (He writes a story in the Washington Examiner that runs this morning, which is later picked up by the Associated Press because folks across the nation are always happy to have their stereotypes of D.C. confirmed.)

Oct. 3
Less than 24 hours after a reporter from D.C.’s finest newspaper calls to ask why it is that D.C.’s Marriage Bureau is still requiring proof of a costly test when the law requiring that test expired a month earlier, I get a phone call. “Hello this is [Bureaucrat]. I was calling about the status of your application. As it turns out, effective today, a blood test is no longer required.” Oh really, Bureaucrat? Effective today, you say? Well how about that.

 

 

 Nice try, dear. Try effective Sept. 11. 

 

This morning
I call the Marriage Bureau and ask how I am to be refunded my $10 I was charged to convert my test results to an official blue index card when that card is no longer required. I am told by the supervisor that I need to talk to the Serology Lab because they’re the ones who charged me. He is the first of many people who will tell me that they were “just informed Thursday about all this so it’s not our fault.” He says he will transfer me to the lab. Instead of the Serology Lab, he transfers me to the DNA Lab, which promptly hangs up on my after telling me they’ll transfer me. I call the Marriage Bureau back and ask for the number to the Serology Lab. The woman who answers says, “I can give it to you but you don’t need a blood test anymore.” “I know that,” I say through clenched teeth. “I’m calling about how I get my money back.” We have, I kid you not, the following exchange:

Her: “You want your money back?”
Me: “Yes. I was charged for a test that is no longer required.”
Her: “Hold on.” (Leaves phone for a moment, talking to someone. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess the guy who already snipped at me minutes earlier that it wasn’t his office’s fault. She comes back to the phone.) “You think $10 is too much to pay?”
Me: “For a test that is at this point no longer required? Yes, I do.”
Her: “So you think you should get that $10 back?” (I swear to God in Heaven I can HEAR her neck circling.)
Me (in an octave called Bridal Bird Has Had It With This Incompetent, Illegal Bullsh**): “Yes, I do think that $10 is too much to pay when your department tells me incorrectly that I need a test that hasn’t been required by law for more than a month!”
Her: “Well we just found out about that so it’s not our fault they charged you that money.”
Me: “Transfer me to the Serology Lab. Now.” 

The Serology Lab, as of 10 a.m. Monday, still knows nothing about this. “Who told you you don’t need a blood test?” the bureaucrat on the other end demands to know, incredulous. I point out that as of that very morning on the Marriage Bureau website it says that. She asks me for the URL so she can check it out. I also offer to send her the article from D.C.’s finest newspaper which points out that at least 200 other people were improperly charged by the D.C. government for the expired test conversion, to say nothing of what we all shelled out to our doctors and the time we wasted during the weekday. Oh, and this fellow bride probably won’t be too happy to learn that she passed out during her syphilis blood test and required emergency medical attention for nothing. She calls me back a few minutes later and informs me that yes, in fact the law has expired. “How do I get my refund then?” I ask. She pauses and says, “Well that money goes to the D.C. Treasury. You need to call them.”

 

 

 Bridal Bird’s not calling anybody at the D.C. Treasury, sugarbuns.

I said, “You want me to call the main number of the D.C. Treasury and ask them for my money back? You realize that that will get me nowhere. Certainly your office can provide a refund, as at least 200 other people were charged incorrectly by your office.” Bureaucrat says, I kid you not, “Oh I know. I totally get why you’re upset. But we don’t have your dough.” I thank her for her candor and support and tell her to have her supervisor call me. 

I’m getting my $10 back.

To be continued…

BB Readers Know It’s Never Good When They See Marie…

September 8, 2008

* 27 straight work days of 12-16 hours

* 2 political conventions, 1 week of out-of-state campaigning, 1 phenomenal wedding

* 3,000 airline miles, give or take

* 2,000 emails, give or take

* 135 professional blog posts

* 10 professional blog videoposts

* 1 on-camera interview with another media outlet

* 4 “You’ve got to be %&# kidding me,” moments (2 euphoric, 2 upset)

* 3 brief cases of the sniffles (2 euphoric, 1 upset)

* 30 delicious Miller Lites, 3 evil vodka tonics

* $2,005.83 in reimbursable expenses

* 4 days off at home now

* 30 days of out-of-state campaigning to follow

Fair and Balanced Bridal Bird Convention Coverage

September 3, 2008

I am in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

There are a bunch of Republicans here. Not, however, “packing” the Xcel Center as Fox News has been claiming (unless one-fifth of the delegates are so white that they’ve been rendered invisible).

A Republican female senator (governor? I knew she was someone but couldn’t remember who) asked me how I cover a convention in 4 1/2 inch heels. “Very carefully,” I replied. House Minority Leader John Boehner said I have good hair. “I see, well, thank you,” I replied.

I have 48 more hours.

So Here We Are

August 28, 2008


It’s 2:30 in the morning and I can’t sleep. It’s like being a kid on Christmas Eve but knowing ahead of time that there’s a Barbie Dream House, a new bike, and a pony waiting underneath the tree. Each day this week I’ve been surprised anew at the opportunities I’ve had. A front-row seat to history, sitting in the rarified air of the convention hall as both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden spoke. Meeting George McGovern. Earning a skybox seat for the final day of the convention. Sharing a cab and a chat with the editor of Newsweek. Seeing too many celebrities–both political and entertainment–to count. Hitting afterparties where the sauce flows freely (literally) with great friends.

We ended up at one such party the night before last completely serendipitously, as I’m learning these things go at conventions. A friend of a friend knows someone and suddenly it’s 12 midnight and you’re standing on the VIP level of Invesco Field ordering a drink surrounded by good-looking people and wondering how you got there. That’s exactly what happened the other night. When we stepped off the elevator at the club level, the party was in its final hour. The good-looking people were scattering, tipsy and happy and, as everyone has been all week, expectant. Our little band of revelers took our beers and pushed through the glass doors that led to the terrace box seats. We sat watching a few workers even at that hour continuing to prepare the venue for tonight’s speech. Taking in this scene of quiet but electric anticipation, I smiled to myself and I took a breath of the chilled night air and I savored the moment.

I’ve worked my ass off for the man who will take the stage tonight. I’ve knocked on hundreds of doors in a dying Pennsylvania rust belt town with my father–a town that he and my mother used to be proud of in their idyllic 1950s childhoods, but that now breaks their hearts. I’ve jangled countless phones in D.C., trying to convince folks on the other end–many of whom are splitting their pills in half to save money or eyeing the gas tank needle nervously or the streets outside even more nervously–that the man I was interrupting their dinner for would actually help them and make a difference in their lives. I’ve strategized and I’ve labored over my keyboard searching for just the right words that might convince people to see what I see. September and October will bring more of the same.

When Barack Obama takes the stage tonight I will look down from my perch and know that this is one of the defining moments of my life. I believe that my children will be born into a better world if he wins. I believe that the asterisks qualifying my pride for my country will finally begin to fade after eight years of multiplying and darkening. I believe that my parents will finally get to see some of the Dream that seemed impossible throughout their lives realized. I believe–rather, I know–that my father will watch the speech tonight and recall the way he felt one similar night in 1960. And when he thinks about his daughter standing in that exact place, watching in person as Barack Obama accepts the nomination for the presidency of the United States, feeling for the first time the way he felt that night in 1960, his eyes will water a bit.

I believe that history will be made, not only tonight, but on the night of Nov. 4. When it is, I will know that I have done everything possible to make it happen. And I will smile to myself and I will take a breath of the chilled night air and I will savor the moment.

Sweet. Merciful. Crap.

August 25, 2008

Where have I been? Well for the last hour I’ve been here:


(That would be the floor of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.)

Hanging out with guys like this:

(That would be Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean at left in photo.)

Watching guys like this sing:

(That would be even-hotter-and-more-talented-in-person singer John Legend.)

And contemplating taking this chick out so I could be the bologna in the funny sandwich:

(That would be the Daily Show crew.)

I have not taken a photo of myself yet, but I assure you that it would be me standing gape jawed, thinking no more eloquent a thought than, “Holy. Shitballs.” And as if that weren’t enough, when I was coming through the insanely tight security entrance area, where the guards were shaking people down every three feet, one of the police officers glanced down at my engagement ring and said, “Wow, that’s a rock!”

Oh Denver, I heart you.

Martha Sure as Heck Doesn’t Have This on Her Month-By-Month Wedding Planning Calendar

July 8, 2008

UPDATE: Apparently my readership encompasses a slightly wider range of personality than I’d previously realized. (Hey, we’re all about the Big Tent here at Bridal Bird.) I wasn’t aware just how far over on the scale I had to set the tab for “humorless, unintelligent, more-than-a-little-stalkerish.” Thanks to a comment received on 9/8/08, I’m now up to speed. So the following post has been modified to reflect that. Apologies to all my other readers, who are on the opposite side of the seesaw wondering when Porky’s going to stop weighing them down and go play in traffic.

My fiancé has a nickname for me: Busy Bee. Rare are the occasions when I can just sit quietly, doing nothing. Sunday mornings with the Times, vacations, and laying out are the exceptions. I like to have projects, a To Do list, something to occupy my time. My fiancé and my dog—who typically jockey to see which of them can do Teamster lazy the best in the evenings and weekend afternoons—regard me with bemusement and raised eyebrows as I carom around whipping up a stromboli for dinner, installing a new light fixture, and planting flower boxes on the balcony. I don’t mind. To the contrary, I thrive on it.

As such, you’d think that with having a wedding to plan I’d be all set. There are invites to stuff, cookies to bake, seating charts to arrange. My cup runneth over right through ’til Oct. 25, right? Yeahhhh, see the thing is…I’ve decided to relocate to North Carolina in August and September to campaign for Obama. My oddly circular life finds me returning to the South where I worked as a crime reporter in the early 2000s. Now it’s battleground territory and I’ll be there organizing rallies, recruiting volunteers, what have you. I’ll be back in D.C. the first week of October, three weeks before the wedding.

Most people’s reaction has been to instantly take umbrage on my behalf. “But that’s ridiculous! How can they make you do that?!” they’ll ask. Well, it is a little ridiculous, but they’re not making me do it. I asked for it. When I left newspapers three years ago it was for this exact reason. I wanted to be able campaign for the candidates I believe in. I find myself now at a job that affords me the luxury of being able to leave for two months to do just that. That it requires me to step away from wedding planning for two months just before the event isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but it’s also not an insurmountable obstacle. As it turns out, most of the things that had to be done for the wedding needed to get finalized before Aug. 1 and then the last minute stuff is just that—last minute. Most important, my fiancé was totally supportive as we mulled this decision. He knows how pivotal I believe this particular presidential race is to the nation’s future and he knows that I want to be able to wake up on Nov. 5 and say that I did everything I could to get the person I believe is the best candidate elected. [It bears mentioning that it wasn’t until well after we made this decision that he realized I would be gone for the first two months of Aggie football season, leaving him free to wallow in it 24-7 without fearing I’d come in and ask him to like, go to Bed Bath & Beyond or say, shower.]

And really, is it the worst thing in the world to step away from the whole wedding planning process for a little while? To clear one’s noodle? To just focus on the excitement of the impending marriage rather than taking an obsessive number of trips over to the reception site to make sure the flower beds out front look healthy?

Not that I’m doing that. (eyes darting shiftily from side to side)

A Fear of Decommitment

April 8, 2008

Anyone who has known me for some time knows that it’s highly unusual that I am getting married this fall. Mainly because I spent the first 26 years of my life announcing resolutely that I wasn’t getting married. Ever. And those very close to me know that this is because I had something of a commitment issue. Namely, I didn’t do it. After a couple years in a relationship I’d start to get restless and look around. So nobody was more surprised than I when I met my fiancé and came to realize that I was done. Finito. -33-. Farewell to all that. End of story.

Yet last night, in the face of temptation, I found myself once again questioning my ability to commit. I was sitting here:

watching the Nats, and almost without thought, cheering for them. It felt weird. If I was cheering a baseball team and it wasn’t a road game, I was supposed to be sitting in Camden Yards. I was supposed to be wrinkling my nose disdainfully at any team not wearing white, orange, and black. I was supposed to be yelling “Ohhhhh” during the Star Spangled Banner. (OK, admittedly I never actually did that because it’s goofy and undignified. But you get my general drift.) I was supposed to think that at the End of Days, this is the worst thing the Devil could see coming:

Oriole Bird

I am an O’s fan. I toddled around Memorial Stadium as a child, spent 20 horrifying minutes lost there one summer as a pre-teen when separated from my parents after performing the Star Spangled Banner, and the soundtrack of my childhood includes repeated urgings from my father to “lock the doors now” as we cruised 33rd Street looking for parking. I swung my little arms wildly with Wild Bill Hagy. I giggled along with my mother and older sister while they ogled the Ripkens—all three of them—standing on the field even though I didn’t really understand what we were looking at. I would to this day, without hesitation and risking prosecution, deliver a swift punch in the balls to this now-grown kid:

The only time in my entire collegiate career that I ever got homesick were the two consecutive nights that Cal tied and then broke The Streak. My family was there in the stands for both games. I was in a freshman dormroom in Clemson, South Carolina, watching it happen on TV and crying my eyes out because I was so far from the one place I wanted to be. I am an O’s fan.

But last night my eye began to wander. It had taken less than 25 minutes door-to-door to get from work to the game. No scrambling to get to Union Station and then the mad dash to jam onto the lumbering MARC train to Baltimore. Suddenly there was Major League Baseball and beer and a spiffy new stadium and veggie hotdogs and Cracker Jacks in my backyard. During the fourth inning I meandered the concourse and walked into a shop where before I knew it, I was handing over $22 for a red cap with the Nats’ logo emblazoned on it. I started hearing Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” in my head and swore it was coming from the store’s stereo system.

“What have the Orioles ever really given me?” I wondered. The last time they won a World Series I was seven. With the exception of a playoff game that I sneaked out to in 1996 while interning on the Hill, they had brought me little joy in the last two decades. Slings and arrows suffered. For what? The honor of having Peter Angelos as an owner and having to justify stuff like this:

1988. Christ almighty, don’t even get me started on 1988.

“Does this make me a douchebag?” I asked my fiancé, sitting there having my commitment crisis in my new hat in Section 116…sweet, convenient-to-downtown, foul-ball-territory-for-the-lefties Section 116. “Not really,” he said. Glancing over at him, I noticed that his gaze was three rows up where four Yankees fans sat. We knew they were Yankees fans because there at a Nats-Marlins game, they were all wearing Jeter jerseys.

And that’s when I realized that it didn’t matter. I could risk being razzed by purists for being a lifelong O’s fan yet still cheering for the Nats as my new home team when I felt like going to a game. I wouldn’t be a total douchebag. Because that’s the great thing about baseball. There’s always a lower common denominator. And it’s always the Yankees.