It was my first trip to the nation’s capitol, a trip undertaken with my friend Tyler to see another friend’s band play. They had played the night before in Philadelphia and we were still sobering up – a condition we quickly set to rectify with a few pre-gig drinks at a bar in Georgetown – when we arrived in D.C.
The fact that our friend’s band had a tab at the club – The Bayou, I believe – necessitated that we continue to drink…and drink. By the end of the evening, Tyler and I were headed for next-day hangovers of at least 7.5 on the Richter scale.
However, my thoughts were only on food as we trekked back to our hotel in the early morning hours. For twenty-odd blocks, Tyler endured me bemoaning that nothing was open.
“How could this be?” I lamented. “How can there be nowhere to get food in our nation’s capitol?”
If logic had not been sent out of the room by alcohol (or, more likely, stormed out in a frustrated huff), I would have connected the dots and realized that it was quite late for most any city regardless of its position in the pecking order of world affairs. But, suddenly, fate flagged me down with an opportunity – we couldn’t quite remember our room number.
“I know it’s on the third floor,” I said. “If I’m wrong, you have to go find me some food.”
“And if I’m right?”
I was wrong.
I did the honorable (and least intelligent) thing possible, wandering off into the night in a city where I had never been, squiffy and in search of food. I picked a direction and went with it, but I soon realized that things were looking progressively dodgy with each block I went.
I considered the idea of turning back when I saw it – a gaudy, neon oasis in the form of a ramshackle liquor/convenience store.
I entered, procured goods – an armload of salty, crunchy things and chocolate, caramel items – and got in line. It was sketchy collection of ne’er-do-wells with darting eyes and, I suspect, concealed weapons.
Feeling a presence, someone else joining the procession to fulfill middle-of-the-night cravings and satisfy end-of-the-night needs, I half-turned and there stood a petite, black woman.
She was slight and willowy, and could have been a tiny dancer on top of a music box except for her attire – nothing more than a black thong under a see-through, thigh-length plastic raincoat.
She introduced herself as Tweety and a friend, wearing red go-go pants, as Simone. Tweety shattered the vacuous stupor of the crowd as a bunch of boggled-eyed men leered through bleary orbs and me, confused and, in an alcohol-induced haze, imagining this Tweety doing some kind of cartoon song and dance with Tweety bird.
She chatted me up as we shuffled along, nearing the counter. Finally, I stood before the register. The gruff, indifferent clerk looked up and over my shoulder. He was staring at Tweety and Simone.
“Uh-uh,” he grunted, shaking his head side to side under a mop of wiry, grey hair. It was obvious that he wasn’t pleased with their presence – competition for dollars, I suppose.
“I told you,” he said firmly. “You can’t be in here…without shoes.”
I looked down and Tweety was, indeed, barefoot.
Somewhere, I have a copy of Tom Waits’ Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis, but as I can’t find it and I seem to have no other hooker-themed songs, here’s Patti Smith’s Dancing Barefoot and a trio of cover versions.
Johnette Napolitano – Dancing Barefoot
While I’d imagine most music fans are familiar with the Patti Smith and/or U2 versions of Dancing Barefoot, the same might not be true for Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano. The track appeared on a mid-’90s compilation, Spirit Of ’73: Rock For Choice, which found alt-rock acts of the period covering songs from the ’70s to benefit a pro-choice organization.
Die Cheerleader – Dancing Barefoot
Even more obscure than Johnette Napolitano’s version would be this take on the song by Die Cheerleader which was included on the soundtrack to the Pamela Anderson flick Barb Wire. A little research on allmusic.com explains that the band recorded only one album on Henry Rollins’ Human Pitbull label in 1995. Oddly enough, Johnette Napolitano also had a song on the Barb Wire soundtrack.