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Twenty-five or so years ago I sublet a room in a small apartment between Dupont Circle and Adam’s Morgan, at 18th and T. My roommate, technically my landlord, since I paid my rent to her, used to have loud sex with her boyfriend. I was a year out of college, miserable, lonely, and pathetic, and those two went at it at all hours like orangutans. I don’t think they did it torment me. I think they couldn’t help themselves. And wasn’t there joy in all that moaning and grunting? I was waiting tables at a Pizzeria Uno’s in Georgetown. My bosses were a couple of bloated thirty-year-old twins, Toby and Stevo (the names we remember, the names we don’t remember) and they both threatened anybody who complained in bad mafioso, saying in a low purr, Mess with us and you’ll never work at another Uno’s franchise from here to Santa Barbara. Do we understand each other or do we understand each other? My friend Aaron also worked at Uno’s. He’s the one who convinced me to move out to D.C. He said there were jobs galore on Capitol Hill. Not a single member of Congress responded to my resume and cover letter. Aaron pulled strings for me at Uno’s. He still lived with his parents, and some nights, when we weren’t working a shift, I’d go out with him to Kensington. Aaron’s mom taught the sixth grade and was wise and matter of fact. She’s since died. How vivid some people remain. You can absolutely mourn someone you hardly knew. I can see Aaron’s mother sitting on the couch in the living room of the house in Kensington and laughing at us because, to her, Aaron and I were ridiculous in our belief in our potential. We were only stopping off at this period in our lives, pausing, only pretending to be doofus waiters in a chain restaurant. Distinction, great distinction, awaited us. In what who knew, who cared, it didn’t matter, greatness is greatness. And Aaron’s mother would howl at us. She’d say, It’s like you two are walking on the tracks with your backs to the train. Aaron’s father worked for the Washington Post. He was too old to be a reporter, but he’d refused to be kicked upstairs. He said, I’m a fucking writer not a salesman. He once gave me a piece of advice. He said that the key to carrying drinks on a tray is to not look at the drinks. This didn’t help me become any less shitty a waiter. Still, no better advice. Don’t look at the drinks. A few years later Aaron moved to Manhattan and found a job in sales. He also bought a pet pig. I’ve got a picture of him walking his pig on a leash down 9th Avenue. He loved that pig and the pig loved him. It was supposed to remain small but eventually it got so huge Aaron couldn’t carry it up and down the six flights of stairs anymore. He drove it upstate and gave it to a farmer who promised not to convert it to bacon anytime soon. At Uno’s, Aaron and I would do whippets at the desert station with the spent whipped cream canisters. I’d get a spastic, loopy high and nothing could touch me, not those idiot twins playing gangster, not the customers who could all go to hell with their personal pan pizzas—their shouting to get my attention—Waiter, waiter! Hey, dipshit!—was like the pleasant sound of distant thunder, and at night, late, late, after a couple of hours of clean-up, I’d go back to my little room and wait for those two next door to start humping again. They were always home, I don’t think either had jobs, and I’d listen to them go at it and try not to whack off. Don’t look at the drinks. I think of part of me wanted to keep the experience pure. Once, Aaron said, our mothers promised us we’d be kings. He didn’t mean his mother, his mother knew better, he meant mothers in general, Jewish mothers in particular. One night a customer threw a glass at me. I was fucked up but not so fucked up I didn’t notice someone threw a glass at me. It got me in the shoulder. It didn’t shatter until it hit the floor. I think of those shards in the dim Uno’s light, how I danced on them, if you could call what I was doing with my feet dancing.