Why did I decide to use my limited free time in Washington D.C. to attend the “Drain the Swamp Millenial [sic] Ball After Party” organized by the elusive “Students and Millenials [sic] for Trump” Facebook group?
Is it because I wanted to see what sort of young person would actually celebrate the election of a discarded cantaloupe? Is it because I accidentally forgot to buy tickets to the only inaugural ball I could afford, and didn’t have any other plans? Is it because I wanted to meet the man or woman who showed themselves repeatedly unable or unwilling to look up the correct spelling of “millennial?” Or, because exactly one person RSVP’d to the event on Facebook and I wanted to find myself in a room, devoid of cheer, with one boy in a MAGA hat pumping his fist to a song called “Whiskey Girl”? Or, even better, a room exclusively full of reporters?
Regardless, on Friday night at around 10:45, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd (bless her) and I took an Uber through the absolutely deserted streets of Georgetown to a bar called Smith Point, described on Yelp as: “racist,” a hangout for “old money Georgetown kids” and “I feel dirty inside.” You don’t enter through the front door, we learned along with two very city-looking men (stubble, not so young) who I remain convinced were also reporters—you have to walk around the corner to an unmarked gate on a side street, give your ID to an affectless white youth, before being unceremoniously ushered into an alley.
When we arrived, the bar was empty, save three people in gowns and tuxedos and, in a well-lit outdoor space, a handful of dudes teaching each other how to perform chokeholds. The DJ was playing “Rude” by MAGIC!.
To avoid detection (of the facts that we are writers and that we do not support Donald Trump), Julianne and I stuck to different tactics—I was almost completely silent, but nestled myself next to groups so that I could hear their conversations, while Julianne chose to act out her interpretation of what being a Republican was like. This involved: ostentatiously bad dancing and putting on a high, clearly fake “Republican voice.” We both drank more than one $9 well drink, but that wasn’t an act or anything.
During the evening, there were never more than 30 people in the three-room bar at a time, and it was never so much a party as it was a collection of individuals standing alone and in very small groups, celebrating themselves. Three nearly identical men in identical suits with identical red ties (one had an Eric Trumpian slicked hairdo) stood side-by-side at the end of the bar, silently waiting for their drinks. A short man with a beard and small eyes told a new friend how Ohioans were “between a rock and a hard place,” what with Kasich’s popularity in the state. A girl with vertically-teased hair told a guy a story about eating pizza. I had always been under the impression that secret clubs were secret to keep the good in and the bad out—we were in a secret club, I guess, but I don’t know for what.
At around 11:45 p.m., several exciting things happened in quick succession: Bart, a small man Ellie Shechet and I had met at the Young Republicans holiday party a year-and-a-half ago, arrived (I did not say hello); I got a second vodka tonic, but it tasted like frosting and I was sure I had been roofied (I hadn’t); two tall, extremely handsome men arrived and walked straight to the backyard. So we followed them, whatever.
They were smoking in a corner—dope. They were wearing scarves—dope. They had great haircuts—dope. They were speaking German—starting to become not so dope. It was unlikely they were lost tourists, since you have to make a concerted effort to find the place, and then, once you get there, it isn’t even good. So who were they? Der Spiegel reporters, I could hope? People playing a prank on us by speaking German with a group of supporters of white nationalism? Literal Nazis from Naziland? While Julianne and I stood beside them agog, we were flooded with fragments of the now four or five conversations going on around us. “Thiel,” we kept hearing (or imagining); “I hope she runs in 2020 so I can get a Pocahontas thing,”; “Sieg heil,” some guys laughed. It felt like a fever dream, but it wasn’t; it was America.
At this point, we had decided we had had enough, and Emma had already texted us, “Code 10 abort.” So Julianne went to the bathroom and I remained outside, standing absolutely alone in the middle of the yard. To my right, I heard two men talking.
“Democracy is just overrated,” one with a high crew cut and thick arms said to the other smaller one. “What if we just restricted voting to taxpayers, or to property owners, or heads of households?”
“I definitely don’t think everyone should be able to vote,” said the other. “You should at least have to take a test or something.”
Later, the jacked man’s friends left and he sat down next to me—Julianne rejoined later—and he talked to me about the groups of anti-racist Antifa protestors who had been protesting around D.C.
“I know we joke about getting rid of people. But those guys really need to be taken care of,” he told me smiling.
It was time to go, we told him in our highest, most reverential voices, we’ve all had a long day.