The Clash of the two Arlingtons

The other night my sister and brother-in-law wanted to take my dad out for his birthday and let him chose the resturuant. As my dad has aged, he has become far more selective about what he’ll eat so it’s been getting a little frustrating to try and accomodate him. He’s crossed off all chains (who knows why), Mexican, South American, Fast Food, and Rotisserie Chicken and he’s equally critical of the resturaunt’s atmosphere, decor, and service. Faced with an ever dwindling set of choices, my dad chose The Front Page because my mom ate there at lunch and was raving about it.

When I heard about this, I immediately thought it would be a disaster, although it might be a rather interesting one. See, the Front Page is a tranquil eating establishment during the day, but at night, it’s a heavily crowded bar that’s very much at the center of the Arlington nightlife for the young and single. I won’t disclose my dad’s age (I’ve taken a couple shots at him already for his pickiness with resturaunts) but let’s just say, he would not be able to relate to this crowd. My dad has virtually zero knowledge of the existence of any band that’s entered the popular music scene in at least the last four decades, so suffice it to say, he would not be happy to hear their music blasted through the speakers while he’s eating. He does not like smoking, people who curse, nor does he like the company of people who can’t hold their liquor.

This is not to say, of course, that my dad does not fit into the Arlington scene. A couple miles away from the Front Page, in a cul-de-sac, my dad fits in well with his neighbors. He sometimes carpools with one of them to work, and enjoys activities like walking the dog and mowing the lawn. He enjoys the closeness to Washington D.C., the sense of civic community that we have, the public parks, and watching the planes fly over head. This is the Arlington that I was raised in and that I am a product of. Growing up my peers and I never knew of the existence of the club
scene here. The Clarendon Ballroom, to us, was the place that we grudgingly accepted as our senior prom location after some mix-up happened with the Car Barn in Georgetown. Now, it’s considered the place-to-be on a Friday or Saturday night.

As I was expecting, when we got to The Front Page my dad was greeted by an unusually loud atmosphere. When we usually go out as a family, my parents always ask for non-smoking. When we did so at The Front Page, the woman replied “Oh no, you can smoke wherever you want.” My sister gave a look that was the equivalent of slapping her forehead. I feared I’d have a disgruntled dad on my hands yet again. The next problem came when she was seating us outside and the table next to us was overpacked with seven or eight people, both guys and girls, who probably had a few beers in them and were talking loud enough for us to hear their whole conversation and it was not only making my dad uncomfortable, but it was difficult to have a conversation. One guy, the alpha male of the group, was bragging to the ladies at the table of his hot new job in an IT department.

That’s when I thought of the title of this article: “Clash of the Two Arlingtons.” This is when I came to the realization that maybe these two radically different sets of Arlingtonians were just not meant to live together harmoniously. Perhaps, The twenty-something Arlingtonians who populate the high rises along the Orange line and the families and established professionals who live in the low-density residential zones need to come to some agreement for how to best share this 26-square-mile space. For example, the yuppies can get The Front Page on weeknights and the other ladies can get the resturaunt on weekday afternoons.

Unfortunately since this implied schedule wasn’t posted anywhere, my dad made a misinformed decisions when we chose this resturaunt for a Saturday night family dinner. Fortunately, things turned out better as a basketball game was playing inside and the group eventually dissipated. Also, the food came and it was delicious and the service upon being tipped off of my dad’s birthday, gave him a complimentary slice of cake. My dad went home happy and the Orange Liners were able to enjoy their Saturday night undisturbed as well, so for at least one night, the two Arlingtons managed to coexist.


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