The following is an open letter to the students of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, whose newspaper The Tattler debated last week whether Bethesda or Silver Spring is a better place to take a first date. "Silver Spring’s recently-developed Ellsworth Drive has attempted to imitate Bethesda Row, but so far has not been nearly as popular," writes the pseudonymous Hot Pink Baron.
Dear B-CC Barons,
I was quite disappointed by your school paper's recent article comparing Bethesda and Silver Spring as venues for a first date, because it was rather biased. After all, Bethesda is in your school's name. So "Hellsworth" may not be the City Paper's "Best Place To Avoid If You Hate Teenagers," but I don't see no mobs of skateboard-wielding adolescents buying $6 gelato in Bethesda Row. I have, though, seen an SUV full of screaming teenage boys speed down Woodmont Avenue while chugging Gatorade and pretending to puke out of the windows, but that's neither here nor there.
Nor am I aware of any attempts by Downtown Silver Spring to imitate your $10,000 TV store or your overpriced tapas restaurant (both of which seem unlikely venues for B-CC High first dates) though I do wish we could imitate your Apple Store, if only so we could get sleeping bags when camping overnight to get an iPad.
Seriously, though: wanna show your date a night out that doesn't involve running into your parents? Take him or her to Silver Spring and show off your cultural awareness! You and I both know they've been taught to fear everything east of Rock Creek Park, so you'll earn major street cred by hanging out in a place where the kids don't all wear private or Catholic school hoodies with Timbs. (This is also an effective way to avoid your date's ex from the Landon School who lurks outside the Barnes and Noble in Bethesda Row.)
You like food? Baja Fresh, Potbelly, Chipotle - if you've got that quick-service restaurant in Bethesda, we've got one too. But you wouldn't ride your bikes all the way down the Capital Crescent Trail for that, would you? (Not that you could since the Capital Crescent Trail won't go to Silver Spring until we get the Purple Line built, but that's a topic for another blog.)
We've got Burmese, Ethiopian, Pirate, even Jamaican food in case your date's going through their rastafarian phase. If you'd prefer a more traditional American dining experience, we have a Tastee Diner that is far nicer than yours, though if you and your date are of the same sex, you might want to hold off on the PDA while you're there.
Now that you've had your fill of reasonably priced food that is actually good, you can go see a movie because last I checked, Bethesda doesn't have a twenty-screen multiplex or a restored 1938 movie palace run by the nation's premier film society. But why go inside when you've got some of the best people-watching in the D.C. area? We take all kinds in Silver Spring - rich or poor, white or black, P.G. or Montgomery - and stick them all in a single city block with bright orange cones and mounted police officers at both ends. It's like Crash, but without the cars or the overbearing social commentary. I don't go to Bethesda Row often, but I'm aware that this dynamic cannot be recreated there.
(But speaking of shows: B-CC's alternakids have no doubt already discovered the Corpse Fortress, the punk house on Philadelphia Avenue and just one of the many residences across Silver Spring where you can see local bands perform. If your idea of punk is visiting the Hot Topic at Montgomery Mall, we're going to ask you to ignore this paragraph and continue reading.)
As you can see, there's no shortage of ways to spend your date night in Silver Spring, so long as you're under 21. Once you get a little older, you'll discover that there aren't many bars here, and those we do have cater to an older demographic than what you'll want on a Friday night out. Of course, by then you'll probably be going to a prestigious liberal arts college in some leafy New England town that those of us who came from lesser public high schools could only dream of.
So while you're still in Bethesda, why not take a walk on the wild side and make some pubescent memories this weekend in Silver Spring. You can tell your incredulous friends on Monday how you went slummin'. And don't worry - we won't tell them that your tales of getting into a street fight outside the Majestic aren't true. That is, unless one doesn't actually happen. Keep your fingers crossed!
See you this Friday night,
Just Up The Pike