I finish up at work and leave to buy a book, at a store three blocks from the office. It’s 60 minutes until I need to jump on my bike and head to the house of a new-ish friend who’s decided I’m worthy of playing Trivial Pursuit with on a weeknight. But I want to buy a book for a friend, and I mosey around the store for a while, grabbing a nice one and some stuff for myself (ooh, the Skeptic’s Dictionary!) when–boom–out of nowhere comes a blast of gut-rattling, carpet-browning, nurse-hold-my-hand diarrhea. I Barry Allen it back to the office and expel water and waste with the force of an exploding silo. Can I justify skipping this get-together? Not really, not when I have a change of clothes. So I wearily mount my bike and start heading toward Mount Pleasant.
Here was my second problem: Mount Pleasant is basically impossible to navigate. Most D.C. neighborhood follow some sort of grid, while MP is laid out like Narnia, all hills and gnarled side streets and rehabbed Bavarian castle-like things adjacent to hideous apartment complexes. I know the house is off Adams Mill, but Adams Mill is painfully hilly so I head parallel to it–or so I think! Actually, I end up circling the neighborhood twice through two different circuits of painfully steep streets. I’m ready to pack it in when, on the left, there it is: a one-block conduit with the street name I was looking for! The house is on another hill, I lift my bike up, and when I get high enough to peer in the window, there’s… a bunch of unfamiliar guys watching football.
It’s pathetic, but I give up. I can go one of two ways: due east, up Park Street, or southeast, down Adams Mill. I choose the latter. For 8 p.m., it’s pretty barren. I don’t have to compete with any cars. I don’t even see any pedestrians. And then I hit Irving Street and coming on the left sidewalk, parallel to me, there’s a skinny skinhead in a red fedora, a T-shirt and shorts. Usual hipster type. I wouldn’t have thought much about him except that he was walking one step ahead of a bodybuilder-fit guy in his early 40s who craned his 19-inch neck around to look at the fast-moving bicyclist.
“Hey,” I say. The two guys nod their heads at me and keep walking.
And that’s how I met Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins.