Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tag, You’re It!

This is one of the more absurd things that I have ever taken part in, but the Borf story reminded me of it so I thought I’d share. I used to hate those permanent marker taggers with a passion but I never went the Trevor Goodchild route instead I did something…else.

Back in ‘95 I was working at the now defunct Key Theater in Georgetown. Just about everyday I used to walk from my place in Foggy Bottom over the M st. bridge to Wisconsin avenue in my theater uniform (black pants, white dress shirt, bow-tie), a trench-coat, and sunglasses. One sunny afternoon whilst walking across M st. bridge I notice a guy ahead of me tagging a metal Pepco box.

I walk up a few feet behind the guy and stop. My shadow looming over the tagger, a guy about my size and my age (then 20). The tagger stops mid-tag, turns, and shoots me a puzzled look. But I don’t say anything. I just stand there staring at him. At which point he loses his nerve and starts up the street leaving his tag incomplete.

About a block up M st. amidst the crowds, I spot him tagging a lamp-post. So I repeat my bridge routine. And he again loses his nerve and leaves mid-tag. Then I stop to browse through some books at the store next to Four Seasons (part of my routine). Ten minutes later about a block up from the bookstore I see the tagger again! Marking up something or other I can’t recall what, but he’s doing it thinking I’m long gone. Wrong! I start to walk up to him when he spots me. Then he freaks out and takes off running up the street and for some reason I chase him!

I don’t really know what he was thinking or what I was thinking for that matter. But we proceeded to have an action movie style foot chase through Georgetown, jumping over and around the bustling crowds, in and out of stores, alleyways, and that one hotel with the seafood joint in it. We must have made quite a sight tearing ass at full tilt down Wisconsin and related side-streets – me in my bow-tie and trench-coat, he in his hoody and piercings. At one point he doubled back and got behind me until I lost him near Blues Alley. Then once again the hunter, I chased him all the way up to Francis Scott Key park where I gave up the chase and doubled back to the Key for my shift.

I don’t really know what would have happened had one of us caught the other. Would we have come to blows? Or would we have laughed our asses off? Later that night, during my shift at the Key, the tagger showed up and I overheard him relating the story to our punk rock projectionist about how some crazy dude in a bow-tie scared the shit out of him and chased him around town. After the tagger left, I told the projectionist that I was that crazy dude. The projectionist got a big laugh out of it all and informed me that this was the tagger guy’s first time trying to tag ever and that he was pretty sure I had scared the guy straight.

Originally published on February 23, 2006.

It's all true, so don't ask.

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