We Saw Your Light On
In the fall, Ballard is perhaps the most romantic neighborhood in Seattle. Large old trees line every street, their branches boasting the most magnificent yellows, reds, and deep browns. The houses have well-maintained yards, there are a number of small parks scattered around, and every boutique and coffee shop you pass is uniquely charming—even the hippie shoe store.
At 2:00 a.m., the beauty is magnified. Last Wednesday, when a cool saltwater breeze was making the leaves dance and fall under the streetlights, it felt like a shame to interrupt such a perfect evening by obnoxiously intruding on unsuspecting strangers' lives, but Stranger intern Jeff Kirby and I had a job to do.
Kirby and I wandered through the streets just a few blocks north of Market Street. Whenever we spotted a light on, we shined a flashlight up to the window and stood outside with the sign. One after another we went ignored or unnoticed. Then, about 20 minutes in, we came across a street-level apartment where a TV and lamp were on. Someone was clearly home and awake, watching channel 11.
Kirby stood a few feet back and aimed the Magnum flashlight up through the blinds while I took a few steps closer to the open window, waving my paper sign around and making psst! noises.
A cat meowed, but there was no human response. I pssted some more, a little louder this time, fighting off awkward giggles. The fact that it's my job to get myself invited into a stranger's apartment at 2:30 a.m. on a Wednesday night made me laugh. What a stupid, genius idea.
As the TV continued to blast commercials for some new series on the CW, I heard voices behind us. Kirby and I turned around and a couple was crossing the street, coming in our direction with confused looks.
"What are you guys doing?" a man asked.
I laughed. "We're from The Stranger. We're writing about people being up at 2:00 a.m. We're trying to see if anyone is home."
"We live there, the place where you're looking in," the woman laughed.
"Do you want to talk to us?" asked Kirby, hoping for an invite inside.
They looked at each other. They were roommates. "I just want to go to bed. I have to work tomorrow," she said, and disappeared.
"I'll talk to you," said the man. "What's up, how are you guys doin'?"
The first thing I noticed about G.I.B. (this was how he identified himself, and he wouldn't tell us what the letters stood for) was that he was drunk—slurred-speech, unable-to-stand-up-straight-for-more-than-a-few-seconds drunk. The second thing I noticed was his funny black T-shirt that had "HEAVY METAL" at the top and, below that, pictures of various kinds of metal from the periodic table—gold, silver, platinum, aluminum, etc.
"Nice shirt," I said. "Where'd you get it?"
"20twenty," he said. He laughed and mumbled something about lederhosen.
I had no idea what he was talking about for the first minute or so of his story, but I eventually caught on that his friend Matt found a pair of lederhosen at 20twenty the same day G.I.B. found the HEAVY METAL shirt. They were a bit small, says G.I.B., so Matt had to really work to get into them.
"They were butt hungry," he explained, turning around and placing both hands on his ass. "Those lederhosen really looked butt hungry."
He shook his ass a little bit, laughing.
We asked more questions. G.I.B. said that he was coming back from the bars (no shit). He said that the Bit Saloon is his favorite: "It's the badassest bar in town." He said he likes to leave the TV on for the cats so they "don't lose their shit." He said to avoid Wingmasters on 24th.
"What are you going to do now?" asked Kirby.
"I'm probably gonna make a booty call. See if I can't hook something up."
Like I said, Ballard is the most romantic neighborhood in the city.