It’s 1:30 AM and I’m walking home to Columbia Heights from Dupont Circle. Close to the intersection of 17th and U, I pass by a group of twenty people huddling around an object I can’t see. Some of them are holding red plastic cups and I assume that there’s a keg and that this group of revelers come from a house party that’s spilled outside. Gutsy, I thought, to bring the keg outside.

As I walk by a woman calls out to me. “Hey, you want some toast?” she asks.

“Excuse me,” I say.

“You want some toast?” she asks again.

I finally see why the small crowd is here. There’s a table with four toasters and various spreads laid out–butter, jellies, jams, Nutella, and what would be my favorite, white chocolate peanut butter. Power cords hang loosely from out a third floor window connecting the toasters and a small pair of computer speakers attached to an iPod. One guy walks around with a kettle pouring out hot apple cider.

Most everyone there is like me, a stranger who just happened to be passing by. We discuss where we’ve been that night and whether if you fold toast in half it legally becomes a sandwich. There’s no consensus on this issue.

Someone talks me into a third piece of toast “for the road” before I resume my walk home. As I move on, I can’t help but think that this is about more than just toast. It’s a shot across the bow of a city culture and nightlife which is too rarely funky, spontaneous, and generous.

And I wouldn’t mind some imitators.

4 Comments so far

  1. Paulo (unregistered) on October 14th, 2006 @ 7:55 am

    I can’t help but cynically wonder at which point someone at the gathering would produce an e-meter or a LaRouche publication, but it looks like that didn’t happen.

  2. Tom Bridge (unregistered) on October 14th, 2006 @ 8:51 am

    That is an awesome service. Friday night Toast Service. Brilliant!!

  3. Carl Weaver (unregistered) on October 15th, 2006 @ 11:43 am

    What a great story! Personal connections and human kindness are so wonderful.

  4. webjedi (unregistered) on October 15th, 2006 @ 7:52 pm

    The absurdity of it all is brilliant.

    Really, think about the first person to stop for toast and cider, and then what inspired the other 19 (or more) to continue to stop and enjoy.

    It’s one of those moments. I wished I’d been there. But then again, I can understand the cider, but what the toast (maybe they were moving in or out and that’s all that was contained in their fridge).

    As in the Guinness commercial “Brilliant!”

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