"You know where you need to start?" asked [Ryan] Holte, 22, whipping out his Treo Smartphone. "Right here."
He scrolled down to a spreadsheet that listed what seemed like every happy hour in the Washington area. Organized by day and neighborhood, it reported the specials at about 75 bars and restaurants each weeknight.
You know in American Pie how there's that legendary book passed down through the generation that document the proper way to perform cunnilingus on Tara Reid? Well, there's an alcoholic version of that. And what kind of intern gets a Treo? I want a Treo.
This spreadsheet is the Washington intern's summer road map to cheap booze and greasy grub. For years, this list has been passed down through e-mail by friends and friends of friends, and now by universities to group e-mail lists of students in the city. Its accuracy is questionable. Still, to many interns, the listing is gospel.
These fuckers depend on a spreadsheet? Lame. That's so Windows 95. Those lucky enough to be members of the super-exclusive DC Late Night Shots Club don't need a spreadsheet. They list all the happy hours for you. Microsoft Office is no longer necessary! It's so nice to be one of the beautiful people.
Ground zero for schmoozers-in-training is the weekday happy hour. If it's the right bar on the right day, they can chat up a congressman and jump-start their careers. Ultimately, it's all about making as many lasting, positive impressions on as many important people as possible, right?
Wrong! It's about getting coffee and forging your congressman's signature. Number of important people I met on the Hill during my four-month internship: ZERO!
"They're just blown away by the fact that they grew up watching 'West Wing' and now are a part of it," said James Hoppes, 34, who interned at the World Bank and still throws back Coronas at the Front Page in Dupont Circle when he finishes work at the Aspen Institute, a think tank.
Oh my God. First and foremost, stop going to The Front Page. Secondly, I'm willing to bet that The West Wing has little to do with interns drinking during the day. In fact, I bet there were interns before The West Wing was even on the air! Research confirms this.*
Known as the nation's intern capital, Washington could add another title: the happy hour capital. Interns say the D.C. scene reigns supreme. If you asked them, here's what they'd tell you:
New York? Nope, too many investment bankers crunching numbers through the wee hours.
Los Angeles? Nope, not enough of a walking city to pub hop.
In defense of investment bankers, the biggest (and bestest!) alcoholic I know is a New York City investment banker. If DC had more people like her, I would be a happier man.
In Washington, though, happy hours are part of the culture. On Capitol Hill alone, 4,000 interns head down the columned steps of their office buildings by 5:30 or 6 at night, many of them heading for bars. You can spot interns by their security badges, which some wear even after punching the clock.
Ah yes. The interns who wear their badges after they get out of work. What assholes.
In the barrooms of political Washington on a weekday evening, you can hear the names rolling off the tongues of the young and ambitious: Hillary! Obama! McCain!
Yeah, you can meet a lot of important people when you're willing to work for free. Showing off about it is incredibly lame. It never fails to amuse me how people claim they want to make a difference when what they really want is to climb the ladder as quickly as possible. What's at the top of the ladder? A cushy job as an Executive Assistant.
Back at Tortilla Coast, the side room filled with Republican interns eagerly awaiting a congressman. An appearance by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) was promised by the Leadership Institute, an organization that recruits young conservatives, trains them for public service and helps place them in government or policy jobs.
"Being able to set up a rapport with an influential Republican congressman like himself is valuable to me," said Holte, a second-year law student at the University of California at Davis and an intern at the U.S. Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals. "It'll hopefully set myself up for job opportunities or future career growth."
Why does this guy think that Steve King could give two shits about him? And job opportunities? Ha. I met Tipper Gore during a (very) brief stint on the executive board of the American University College Democrats. I don't use her as a job reference.
Another day, around the corner at Hawk 'n' Dove, the venerable Capitol Hill honky-tonk, draft pitchers were $5. A couple of interns and their co-workers from a human rights and government watchdog group gathered at a table in the back room. They bandied jokes around a pitcher of foamy brew and jumbo potato skins (no bacon), then started to rail about those interns, the relentless handshakers and name-droppers. You see, not every D.C. intern goes to happy hours merely to network. And when asked about the networkers, Daniel Werner, 22, and Michael Piccinelli, 21, just shrugged and laughed as if to say, That's Washington .
Werner, a senior at the University of California at Berkeley, recalled attending a panel for interns this summer that featured Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and NBC News' Tim Russert. After the talk, audience members swarmed the headliners.
"All those interns want to do is get a picture with them and post it on their Facebook and say, 'Hey, look at me,' " Werner said, referring to the online networking site popular among college students. "That really turns me off about interns here."
"They might care about their work," Werner added, "but all they do is name-drop."
Yes! I think I'm in love with these guys. These are the people I want to drink with. If Dan and Mark are reading this, first round is on me. We will seek out dudes wearing their House badges and punch them in the nuts.
That's really it for the article. There's some more talk of ladder climbing and, for some reason, a Monica Lewinsky reference. Blah, blah, blah. Although interns drinking after work isn't exactly a hot story, I'm glad this was published. These are the people that have ruined DC. Name-dropping, ladder-climbing, back-stabbing, brown-nosers. I hope someone spikes the Coronas at The Front Page with cyanide.
*I didn't do any research.