The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Bronco Busting in Downtown DC

Yes, he was drunk. Very drunk. We could smell it on his breath as he talked to us, and he wasn’t that close. I’m guessing it was cheap vodka with a hint of unidentifiable fruit.

We’d just outsmarted ourselves attempting to return home on Metro and finally, after a wait of 20+ minutes, found two seats together with the handicapped seats immediately in front of us at a right angle. Two or three stops later, he stumbled on and took one of those seats. His clothes were mostly clean, his black jeans were baggy and somewhat frayed at the bottom, and his hands were washed, though with what appeared to be dirt ground into some calluses on his hands. (My dad, the publisher of a small-town weekly newspaper, had hands like that.) The guy wore a straw hat that looked new, and a jaunty dark purple vest over a lavender shirt. Not your typical Washington workaholic, but someone who could have passed as a regular guy.

Could have, but didn’t.

We’ll call him Larry, because I’ve never met a normal Larry even though I’m sure they exist.

First up was the phone. Not everyone owns a smartphone. I don’t, Dave doesn’t, along with other people who don’t use a phone much in the first place. So Larry holding a flip phone to his ear was no big deal. Except, at about 11:10 at night he was saying something like the following:

“Hi, it’s me, the boss, the one that gives the orders. I want you to fire those three immediately. And set up two interviews for tomorrow at 10 a.m.”

This was a very strange and not at all credible conversation for someone to be having on Metro at 11:10 p.m. That, and the fact that his flip phone was not open. Yes, Larry gave his imperial orders on a closed cellphone.

Next, he tried to engage us in conversation. Dave, being a friendly guy who’d scoped out the situation, asked Larry if he’d come from the ball game. No, Larry said, he’d been bronco busting.

There is no bronco busting in downtown Washington DC.  Think what you will about the place in this age of cynicism, but we don’t have cowboys and ornery horses.  Trust me on this.

On further questioning, Larry said he’d been in Prince William County, which is some distance away and rural. Okay, then, he could have been at a county fair or something. But then why did he come into DC to get into the cheap vodka, which we were now smelling on his breath as he continued talking, something about growing up wealthy in Aspen, Colorado, moving from there to a big place outside Kalispell, Montana, and his stepfather, nicknamed “the Redneck,” being the last Marlboro man. He described the last Marlboro ad shoot in their backyard “in 1971, the year they stopped advertising on TV.”  (Who remembers that?)

I don’t remember precisely when Larry rolled into our laps, but it was around this time. Dave and I just pushed him back up into his seat as if we did this every day.

Larry then began rambling on about how rich he was, his little sister worth $500 million, his Mercedes, Cadillac, and SUV, and his three girlfriends. Apparently one was the main girlfriend, and she was unhappy about the other two. No talk about tiger blood, goddesses, or “Winning!!!”, however. You can only borrow so much from Charlie Sheen, I guess.

Larry told us that he was getting off at the Crystal City stop. The young man sitting next to him stood up and started pointing to the exit with his eyes. I assume he was indicating that if I needed to get off to get away from this guy, he’d protect me. Or maybe he was trying to pick me up, though I was old enough to be his mother. It was just another layer of weird.

Finally, we reached Crystal City. And Larry made no move to leave. So we started urging him: “This is your stop!” and “Here you are, enjoy the rest of your evening!”, etc. Anything to make sure he didn’t get off at our stop and try to follow us home. At the very last minute, Larry stood, barely keeping his pants up, and stumbled off the train. I don’t know where he was going, and maybe he didn’t either, though there was little to indicate he was homeless.

He was just another talkative character taking Metro home at night.

(Thanks to Dave for fleshing out some of the detail on this.)


August 19, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. I love reading stuff like this. And you handled it with such grace. Also? I never thought anything could make me miss the Metro, but you just did. Now please excuse me, while I have a Henry Rollins -esque cry about missing the District.

    Comment by Cult of Truth | August 20, 2011 | Reply

  2. And of course, Facebook is giving me problems with linking to it. I know my friends in DMV and my fellow DMV ex-pats would love it. Grrrr….

    Comment by Cult of Truth | August 20, 2011 | Reply

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