Monday, June 14, 2010

"Dispatches from the Capital - Random Fragments""

Sunday Morning

Strolling through the unhurried streets of Washington suggests that Sunday is the day chicanery takes the day off.

Turf Distinction

When my belt didn’t trigger the alarm entering the Senate Gallery, but it later triggered the alarm entering the House of Representatives Gallery, I said to the House Security Guard, “My belt made it in the Senate.” To which the Security Guard sonorously proclaimed, “Not over here!”

My Proudest Moment

A woman was telling her young companion, “No, Sotomayor’s not the Chief Justice”, then turned to me and asked, “Who’s the Chief Justice?” I immediately replied, “Roberts.” Which happens to be the correct answer. I felt very proud. Like when out-of-towners ask for directions, and you actually tell them the right way to go.

Car Crash Four

Heading to a restaurant for dinner, our cab driver drove like it was a video game.

A Dubious Honor

We learned at the Museum of American History that Madison’s picture is on the five thousand dollar bill. I took out my wallet to double-check, and found I had nothing bigger than a twenty.

They Made The Tours Run On Time

Whoever is responsible for the logistical brilliance of the Capitol tours should be immediately appointed to run the country. Their only questionable decision was a placard posted near the elevator reading, “Press Elevator Button."

Echoing Heartbreak

A quote prominently displayed at the Slave Exhibit at The Museum of American History: “I married my wife. And the next day, my master sold her.”

A Gustatory Boo Boo

The concierge at our hotel reccomended a good Chinese restaurant, neglecting to tell us it was on the Second Floor of the building. We ended up dining at the First Floor Chinese restaurant below it, which would not have been recommended by anyone who had ever eaten food.

A Matter Of Perspective

Visiting Georgetown, we took a ride on a canal boat which was powered by two mules tethered to the vessel by giant ropes. The Tour Guide explained that the mules had no problem performing this task. I wondered if you’d get a different answer if you asked the mules.

Ford’s Theater

We sat in the front row, gazing up at the box where the president was shot. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. The solemnity of the site, however, did not stop me from leaning over to Dr. M and whispering, “You know what Lincoln’s last words to his wife were? ‘I told you we should have gone bowling.’”

Doctor’s Orders

Dr. M’s conference offered a program entitled “Baseball and Psychoanalysis.” What was repeatedly stressed were the therapeutic benefits of “play.” We learned that Hippocrates always instructed his depressed patients to “Take a walk.” If the patient returned, still depressed, he told them to take another walk.


The program also included attending a ballgame, hosted by the Washington Nationals. Aside from the game itself, there are two things I love about going to ballgames. You can throw hot dog wrappers, peanut shells and pretty much everything on the ground. And, at least before the game starts and before the bottom of the seventh inning, you can sing out loud in public. I don’t know which of those I like best. They are both enormously satisfying to me.

Incidentally, here’s a fact which, after I mention it, you will never forget.

When you remove the parentheticals, the song “The Star Spangled Banner” is constructed as a question followed by an answer. The question:

“Can you see the flag?”

The answer:

“It’s still there.”

Isn’t that cool?

I just thought you’d like to know.


Unknown said...

I always get a kick out of reading an American's impression of his or her second hometown, that one being Washington, DC.
I lived there for nearly fifty years, from '58 to 2000, and I watched the town transform from a place owned by a powerful few to a town owned by a powerful many.
I can only quote a graffito I found on a wall in a crack house I restored back in the 80s:
"It's Time For The Freaks To Turn It On in Babylon."

A. Buck Short said...

A Nashville park has an exact scale replica of the Parthenon-- albeit concrete and in better condition. Their Parthenon has a guestbook. The visitor signing before us was from Possum Hollow, KY. If that isn't democracy in action I don't know what is. It was built for the Centennial Exposition saluting Nashville's nickname "The Athens of the South." We were from Boston, which depending upon it's own hyperbolic comfort level, is either the Athens of AMERICA or the Hub of the Universe. My only question: wasn't it only a couple of years that the Athens of America wouldn't also have been the Athens of the "South?"

(BTW We rolled into town around midnight. There was only one restaurant stll open, apparently part of a chain called "Steak & Eggs." Upon entry, we were greeted by the manager who advise, "We're out of steak.")