The chartered bus carrying Mayor Barry and a small portion of his comically inflated cabinet arrived in Coolfont, W.Va.—a Mountaineer State spa and the site of the hyped weekend getaway—before most locals were even aware they were coming. But when a few members of the D.C. delegation ventured off the resort’s grounds late Friday night and into the tiny burg of Berkeley Springs (pop. 800), townies got to talking.
“The Mayor’s people just bought $300 worth of liquor from us!” a wide-eyed cashier at the local 7-Eleven was telling all patrons around midnight. “They didn’t just buy one brand; they bought bottles of everything.” (In hooch-friendly West Virginia, convenience stores sell not only beer and wine, but also Jack Daniels and Jose Cuervo and all sorts of other high-proof beverages that’ll add a little kick to your Slurpee.)
None of the store’s staffers actually saw Barry on the premises, but in the store’s parking lot, flannel-wearing natives in pickup trucks shared sighting stories and traded cracks about how the civil servants’ huge liquor purchase was further evidence that the government of D.C. still knows how to party.
But maybe the late-night booze run wasn’t all 80-proof tomfoolery: After all, when he returned to D.C., the mayor told the press that he’d called the out-of-town sessions in hopes of getting his staff to “identify a sense of urgency”; well, Barry’s Midnight Runners had made it to the 7-Eleven just before the state’s booze clock went off. Barry also said he hoped that his charges would come back from Coolfont better prepared to overcome the “problems with procurement” that plague government agencies; judging by the massive amount of drink involved in the 7-Eleven transaction, these city workers had shed whatever procurement jitters they’d brought to Coolfont.
And as for Barry’s wish that the staff would come back home with “reduced tensions,” it could be argued that an imbibe-and-conquer strategy is a time-tested approach to reducing stress.—Dave McKenna