If you rub his belly, it brings you good luck
So yesterday your intrepid webmaster & webmistress decided to actually go out into the sun (*blink* *blink*) and attend the "10th annual Safeway Bar-B-Que Battle" in downtown Washington D.C. Hey, we had a coupon!
It seems that all the festivals (well, both the festivals that we've attended at least) in DC happen in a certain segment of Pennsylvania Avenue. For you non-locals, Penn. Ave is the street that connects the Capitol to the White House. Or at least it used to, a long time ago. Over the years a lot of stuff has happened, most specifically a lot of real big trees and the treasury building happened (the thing on the back of a $20 bill... I think, but without the charming model-Ts). Today, when you're standing on Penn Ave. in the summer you can see the Capitol framed by low buildings at one end, and big honking broadleaf trees with a cool fountain on the other (Freedom Plaza has one of those nifty dancing water fountains).
Ok, so we were close enough to Mr. Bush that Maru and my mom would probably both break out in hives. But you couldn't actually see the White House. What you did see was a section of really wide street cordoned off with chain link. Temporary "wheeliebooths" lined each side, of varying sizes. At heart, it probably wasn't any different from any other street festival you may have attended, but I bet it smelled a lot better.
Well, it was hot. Real hot. It's said that in the 1870s France considered DC a tropical hardship post, and you'd believe it if you were walking down the middle of that street at 1 pm. The blacktop of the road acted like a kind of solar microwave, frying you as you traversed the street. As long as you were moving, it was OK because you were generating your own breeze. But stop for any reason and the heat would close in on you like being wrapped in a towel straight out of the dryer.
Now, the last festival we went to was the DC beer festival. That one was fun. They gave you this big stack of "pogues"... basically balsawood poker chips, when you entered. Each pogue was worth 4 oz. of beer. Walk up to any vendor, present said pogue, and get a taste. Ok, that was what happened when I walked up to the vendor. When Ellen shimmied up in her daisy-dukes (a.k.a. "hot pants" or "short-shorts"), big brown eyes, and perky smile, she would walk away with half a freakin beer glass. I'll bet you guys can figure out who got beer for us the rest of the day. We had to sit in a corner for an hour that afternoon just to sober up!
But this festival wasn't like that at all, beer being cheaper than barbeque apparently. You could smell all the wonderful things being cooked, but you couldn't freaking eat any of it!. The streets were lined with an eclectic mix of cellular phone, ice cream, wine, and (wait for it)... tire vendors. Yes, tires. Actually, the Michelin booth was pretty cool as far as I was concerned. They had a '96 Formula-1 race car, and that was the first time I'd ever seen one of those exotic beauties in the flesh. Ellen smacked me like I was looking at some supermodel walking down the street.
You have to remember there are three things you Just Don't Do to Ellen: 1) Tell her she's wrong (we call it the "W" word around here), 2) let her get bored, or 3) jostle or poke her. Because it was a bit crowded and we weren't getting to eat barbeque like we were able to drink beer before, Ellen was getting #2'd and #3'd with a vengeance. After the third snarl for accidentally tripping on her shoe, yours truly could see the writing on the wall and immediately went looking for husband shield #1... chocolate.
Thankfully, I found a Turkey Hill ice cream booth giving away free samples (chocolate and vanilla). After getting our samples (those wooden not-quite-spoons suck), I went into "dumb husband" mode for awhile, letting Ellen vent her frustrations by yelling at her clueless cow-like hubbie to stay out of people's way. Yeah, I took a bullet for the team.
The whole festival thing stretched about a quarter of a mile, or about three DC city blocks. After walking back and forth twice I thought it would be a good idea to get in line for the "Safeway Free Samples Tent", a really long awning that seemed to promise lots of tasty barbeque bits for those willing to stand in the line that stretched across Penn Ave. and down a side street. But once we'd got up to the awning we discovered that a) the free samples were dippy things like popcorn and carpet cleaner and b) the line was "folded" three times over inside the tent. We skipped out on the free sample line shortly after that.
At that point we were getting pretty hungry ("If I don't eat something I'm going to f***ing pass out" was what Ellen actually said), so we went to one of the pay vendors for some (duh) barbeque. I got the pulled pork sandwich, and Ellen got the ribs.
Now, we already have a regular barbeque place we visit, Red Hot and Blue. They were at the festival, but I wanted to try something different, so we went to the Dave's Famous Barbeque stand instead. We then went by the "wine hut" (booze R us too), and then sat in the concert pavilion to eat.
Ellen's judgment was that the ribs weren't as good as RH&B's. The pulled pork sandwich I had was darned tasty, so it may have been a case of not being able to cook ribs in the proper way. At any rate we munched barbeque and listened to the reggae band that cranked up in the pavilion tent.
The bass on the band was cranked up a bit too loud, made you feel like you were getting hit with crash cart paddles (haaay mon... thees one, she not dahncin... give me 300... [weeeEEEEE] *BANG*), so at that point we decided to head home.
We gave out two awards... weirdest male and weirdest female. The former went to a guy that looked like Alice Cooper had a child with the lead singer of the Spin Doctors. We're talking nappy red hair, 30 piercing, 6 tattoos, and big scary clown makeup around the eyes. The latter went to this 6'2" platinum-bleach-blond porn star with store-bought 36DDs, wearing a tube top on both ends and 8" stiletto heels.