Sometimes, on weekends, I make the mistake of going to Adams Morgan. I'm not a fan. Unfortunately, last Saturday, my new housemate wanted to go out to some bar called Nolan's in the heart of 18th Street. A chance to bond with someone who I share a bathroom with. My attendance was required. I would hate to come off as the house curmudgeon.
I was wearing my usual dopey outfit: khakis, sweater vest, and Red Sox hat. It's the Red Sox hat that always gets me in trouble. As a rule, I try to take my hat off whenever I'm indoors. That's just how I was raised. But in the crush of people inside a sweaty bar, who cares if I'm wearing a hat? Apparently the bouncers do. No hats allowed.
Is the hat rule, which I've run into at a few establishments in Georgetown and Adams Morgan, an attempt to make the bar seem classier or fancier? If it is, it's a woefully misguided one. Here you are, two doors down from a place that sells pizza slices bigger than my head and in front of a sidewalk that's just plastered with vomit from end to end. You're overserving Miller Lite to a bunch of dumb broads trying to slut themselves out so some moron will buy them a round of shots. Oh, and you're playing Bon Jovi and 50 Cent at over 100 decibels. I would hate for my Red Sox hat to drag that experience down a few notches.
Kurt Vonnegut writes a chapter on politeness in his "autobiographical collage" Palm Sunday. Vonnegut believes that people act polite in order to cover up some of the more disreputable aspects of their lives. After all, who will have the courage to tell Queen Victoria that the working class is starving when you're not even allowed to make fart jokes in front of her. I think Vonnegut's hypothesis fits at Nolan's and any other crowded bar that's concerned with hats. The owners can customers can tell themselves that they're at a classy establishment. Of course, they're really at 18th Street in Adams Morgan. It doesn't get much less classy than that.