Lindsay and I went for sushi once she finally got a break, and while we were eating, her lobbyist told her to get to a bar called Red, Red Wine (the song is stuck in my head, too). We paid out and walked the few doors down. When we walked in, I realized that anyone who was anyone in Maryland was within 50 square feet. Because Lindsay walks in these circles all the time, she is always officially Not. Impressed….. while I debate over whether it’s tacky to ask for a photo. I always decide not to ask, because as much as I wanted a selfie with the Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, the day was over and it was drinkin’ time. I know what it’s like to feel like I have to be “on,” and I didn’t want that for them.
So there we were, Republicans, Democrats, and lobbyists all stuffed together with not enough seats. Even though I don’t work in politics, there was never a time in which I felt ill-at-ease. At different times in my life, I’ve been a lead trumpet player, and hanging out with this crowd was literally no different than hanging out with a bunch of other trumpet players. When you’re the lead, you get your balls busted by your underlings telling you how much better they could have played it. As the lead, it is your right- no- your responsibility to respond with something devastatingly clever. And that’s how it went all night long. The Minority leader is female, and because you can look up who she is, I will not tell you how she impressed me, because I’m betting she’d say it was unprintable.
As an aside, I was so impressed with the diversity at the table. Though there weren’t many females, there were males of all colors. Maryland is a lot of things, but whitewashed government is not one of them. Yet another thing that makes me proud to live here.
I caught titles, but not names. Actually, that’s not true at all. Everyone introduced themselves to me and I forgot their names almost immediately. I can tell you what everyone was wearing and what they smelled like, though.
The guy sitting next to me was black and was wearing a light grey shirt and a pink tie. I leaned over to him and said “I’ve been admiring your tie.” He said, “and I like your frames.” We continued talking and he told me that he lived in Baltimore. I said, “I want to ask you a question, and you can tell me if I’m going too deep… but what was it like living in Baltimore when Freddie Gray was murdered?” He said that luckily, where his office was located was out of the range of looters and protesters, but that he was glued to the TV for days, because it was a bit scary.
He also said that he understood the violence, but didn’t agree with it, because it really wasn’t accomplishing anything to burn small businesses, etc. I told him that I struggle with violent vs. non-violent protest, because I personally am one of the quiet, mild-mannered protesters that walks silently or chats with friends. I’ll join in if people are chanting, but that’s as rowdy as I get. The problem I have is that sometimes violent protests work. Its not a pretty idea, but it is also true. Then we talked about the Revolutionary War and the Boston Tea Party and Shays’ Rebellion.
It was a long and involved “wondering as we wandered” through history, because I think we both had the same point of view in terms of understanding why people get that angry, but not wanting to be one of those people, either.
It was the classic Leslie Lanagan outing…. the life of the party for a few minutes, find someone I like, and talk with them until the rest of the party isn’t there anymore… just background noise to my own main event.