Wash. DC: We came; We walked; We saw;
If you’re planning a trip anytime soon, I’ve got two words for you that may well keep you from ruining your life. Make a note. Ready? -- “Cargo shorts.”
Cargo shorts have about a gazillion pockets. I have pockets in my shorts that I don’t even know how to get to. While visiting the Nation’s Capital last week, I had so much stuff in my pockets that I looked like a traveling marble salesman.
There is one big drawback to multi-pocketed shorts during a visit to D.C., and that comes from the fact that you’ve got to go through dozens of security checkpoints. And each time I had to empty my pockets. What a pain. I had to grab my floss, Chapstick, fingernail clippers, tube of hand sanitizer, bottle of water, snacks… the usual.
At airports, they just check the metal you’re carrying around. All I had to do was take out my keys and coins and phone. However, at the first inspection at Bush, I had to empty out everything. Turns out my wallet has a thin metallic security shield in it, so people can’t walk by me with a device that can scan my credit cards in my wallet. Some people!
At the museums, they wanted me to empty everything out of my pockets. Not just metal objects. I discovered that the minute we stood in line to enter the American History Museum. The only problem was that we had just eaten lunch at a sandwich shop, and Kay bought a big cookie to take with her. One of those macadamia nut, white chocolate jobs. Did I mention it was big?
She wrapped the thing in a few napkins and stuck in her purse. Well, while we’re waiting in line to get into the museum we spy a sign that reads --“No food or drinks beyond this point.” Immediately, Kay takes the big cookie out of her purse and hands it to me. Tells me to hide it in my shorts.
Truth be told, I don’t want a big cookie in my shorts. I told her so. She assured me that security only wanted to see the metal objects in my pockets. But, her purse would be carefully inspected. Reluctantly I stuffed the cookie into one of my side-pockets. The bigger one, ‘cause the cookie was really big.
It was at that moment I realized museum security wanted to see everything in your pockets. Metal objects and everything else. I suppose they don’t want anyone bringing a magic marker in and drawing a moustache on Millard Fillmore’s portrait. He was one of our Presidents, you know? Hey, I saw his picture.
Anyway, the lady inspected Kay’s purse and waved her through. Then I took out my keys and wallet and change. The lady just stared at me. She was staring at the big cookie bulge in my shorts. She said, “Sir, do you have anything else in your pockets?”
Caught me. I fished out the giant cookie and told her it was one of those macadamia things with the white chocolate. I was going to tell her that Kay made me carry it for her, but at the last minute decided to be the fall guy.
The lady looked at the cookie, laughed and then told me to move along. She didn’t even confiscate the cookie. I decided to share MY big cookie with Kay when we stopped by the food court in the museum. We drank a $3 bottle of water and split a $5 cookie.
But, forget that. I’ve got to cut right to the fireworks. That’s the real reason I wanted to make the trip. I had never seen a large-scale fireworks display. Now was my chance. Unfortunately, it rained most of the day on The Fourth. By nine in the p.m., a cloud had pretty well settled in on the entire City. Matters not. The fireworks’ display must go on.
And, it did. We went early and found a place on a steep slope near the Washington Monument. We spread a couple of hotel towels on the wet ground and plopped ourselves down. The crowds gathered. People everywhere. All had braved the weather just to experience the fireworks in D.C. When the first rockets went off, we could hear the boom, and we could see the clouds light up in red and blue and white. However, the only clear view of the bombs bursting in air came from the rockets that exploded lower to the ground. Everything else was a haze.
We learned that PBS aired the display, but spliced in some footage of past firework exhibitions in order not to disappoint. What a bust… but not completely. While sitting on that wedgy-inducing hill waiting for the fireworks, we met some really nice people. It’s the camaraderie that made the experience so worthwhile. We made friends with Ben and Sandy from Rochester, New York. I’m supposed to forward this article to them. I’m sure I got their names wrong.
I don’t have the space to tell you about all the kindness we were shown by so many. We didn’t run into a rude person the whole trip. The mood was infectious. I even became kinder than usual… and I’m usually fairly kind.
On our flight home, Kay and I started rehashing the trip. At one point I shared a stolen thought. Not sure from whom I stole it. I said, “Sweetpea, what makes America truly great is not the land. It’s the people.” – Kay thinks I got it from from Ma Joad in “Grapes of Wrath.” Well, thanks Ma. – Got to run, but I’ll sprinkle around a few more D.C. stories in the near future. -- Next time.