June 11, 2022

From Gerald R. Lucas

Hang Out with Ernest covid-19: day 805 | US: GA | info | act

Saturday. My favorite day of the week. Ernest picked me up this morning, and we drove around DC for a bit. He showed me their new house under renovation, just south of downtown Silver Spring. A yellow bungalow, it sits in this eclectic neighborhood with sidewalks, parks, and narrow streets. They have big plans for it, and I can’t wait to see what they do. It’s a small house, but their vision for it will use every inch strategically. I hope I can visit with Henry and Autumn when it’s complete.


We had brunch at this cool place in Anacostia called Busboys and Poets. It was a library and bistro rolled into one. I had a chorizo burrito with my Americano, and Ernest and I chatted about life—exactly the thing I wanted to do. Afterward a leisurely meal, he continued his tour of DC. I should have schlepped the SL along. I guess I’ll have to return.

I was on my own for the afternoon and dinner, so I hit up a food truck near the hotel. I was going to get a take-out chicken sandwich at Nando’s, but the wait was too long. They didn’t seem too busy, but the cashier told me it would be “thirty minutes for chicken,” so I walked a bit further to the Halal Brothers Food Truck, on the corner of Georgia and Colesville. As I approached, I must have looked a bit uncertain as two people awaiting their food told me “this place is so good.” I had the combo chicken and gyro over rice, and I have to say, it was better than anything I ate in New Jersey—and there was a lot of it. It was reminiscent of late-night kabob shops in London.

Later that evening, we hit a bourbon bar, the Jack Rose Dining Saloon, which was really impressive. Bottles covered the walls and their spirit menu goes on for pages. I had a cask-strength Red Breast Irish Whiskey that was excellent—my first drink of 2022. I figure who better to share it with than my bourbon buddy Ernest. The bartender was knowledgeable, personal, and enthusiastic about his business. Ernest said he always likes people passionate about what they do—no matter what it is. I agree.

Selfie at the food truck.

Man, DC is dense. The diverse people and places to go were almost overwhelming, and it seemed the whole population was out doing something. There are pockets of activity everywhere on the boulevards and tighter streets. The density of people was almost claustrophobic at times, even behind the passenger’s window of the Volvo. If there’s still a pandemic going on, you wouldn’t know it by the mass of people enjoying their Saturday night out.

It was late, but we had one more place to hit: Shelley’s Back Room, a cool cigar bar near the White House. However, they had a $30 minimum per-person which we were not going to meet, but Ernest knew another place—T G Cigar Lounge. There, we ensconced ourselves at the bar, lit up some Cuban cigars he brought back from Jamaica, and had our nightcap. For me, it was an ounce of Whistle Pig and a big glass of water. I think my halal combo platter made me parched. Speaking of that, I’m glad I had dinner, since I had two drinks tonight, but as it turns out, I could handle it.

Tonight was my first night out like this since the pandemic started. Autumn would not be pleased with my exposure, but it did seem the thing to do. I wouldn’t say I was comfortable, but you can’t drink a bourbon through an KN-95. I have a COVID test I’m going to take before returning home, so I’m not too worried about infecting my family. The Jack Rose bartender said he had COVID three times “that he knew of.” It does seem inevitable that we’ll all get it at some point, like the flu.

Thanks to Ernest for showing me around and being such great company. I’ll be back, brother.