Pizzaria Paradiso/Au Revoir
3282 M St., NW
When considering the last place to cover as the Bar Belle, I wanted to go somewhere super fabulous and nouveau. But a 30-page paper and dreary precipitation hampered my plans. Unwilling to traverse far or flatiron my hair, I ended up at the bar at Pizzaria Paradiso. But it was no disappointment. I consumed bottles of select wine and beer, half a delectable pizza and a blow-pop ring (don’t ask) with some close friends, all within the company of a friendly bartender.
I may be betraying the very tenets of the Bar Belle manifesto (if one existed) by suggesting this, but in my four years in this idiosyncratic GWorld, the times that I recollect most fondly (or had replayed to me in the case of blacking out) were those rag-tag nights where I ended up drunk at a regular dive bar clad in my uniform – sweatpants and green sweatshirt – with a group of close friends. This is not to imply I didn’t enjoy the nervous excitement of Thurston days, where teetering at blood-alcohol poisoning levels and strutting around Daedalus was the norm. Nor am I denying that I didn’t enjoy those sophomore days when I experienced that oh-so-sacred college rite of passage: the fake ID. Or even junior year, enduring those weekends when friends were polarized between legal and non-legal drinkers until that much anticipated 21st birthday when your head is in the toilet after succumbing to an onslaught of shots.
Then comes senior year, the end of four years of contraband experimentation, fluid-swapping and moments you hope that no one caught on film – a time for me that is best summed up by the Grateful Dead: “what a long, strange trip it’s been.” Whether it is the excitement of returning from abroad, acknowledging that your undergraduate career is nearing its end, or just that everyone you’ve known since freshman year is finally legal, going out and drinking becomes more frequent, more peer-orientated and a hell of a lot of fun.
I got into this gig because, as obvious as it seems, I like to drink and I like to write. Yet what I didn’t realize before I began was how Bar Belle would shape my senior year experience. First, it gave me a valid excuse for getting blacked-out drunk (“it’s my job!”). And second, it debunked the GW myth that in order to have fun one has to go to promoted events and local bars. Thirdly, I experienced much quality drunk fraternization, which is a good thing because, had I pursued these bar excursions solo, I would likely be writing from rehab or in a gutter around M Street.
In the end I know I probably offended those who like to ignore the preponderance of drinking in college, really pissed off some owners and promoters and annoyed my friends by making them go against their will at times to lame bars as well as having them put up with my tendency to drunk-lie and run away. Nevertheless, I hope that I played an apt Bacchus at times, seducing undergrads to spend their money, ruin their livers, dance on tables and maybe get laid by cavorting at D.C. bars they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.