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03/02/2011

Threesome

Washington itself

Over the first part of the winter school break, we drove down to Washington, DC for a few days.  It was a decision borne out of desperation — eleven days, y'all, ample time for a normally loving family to start eyeing each other's meaty, meaty haunches hungrily — but it turned out to be a good one.  We traveled easily by car, swam in the hotel pool, and gaped at the grandeur of the public buildings and monuments.  Okay, that was just me with the gaping.  The rest of our party was busy demanding to go up the escabator again (Ben); sighing "I wish we could go back to the hotel and swim" a mere three minutes, no lie, after leaving it (Charlie); and longingly eyeing embassy after embassy, considering a hasty asylum (Paul.  Not that it would work.  He doesn't look even remotely Holy Seeish.  Wait, Holy Seetian?  Fine: Holy freakin' Seetastic).

I spent a lot of time tearing up, but then I tend to get all sentimental when I think about the people who've died for my right to sit on my ass and play Angry Birds instead of assembling Messerschmitts in Yokohama for noted Iraqi commie King George III.  On this trip I learned about Alice Paul, one of the founders of the National Woman's Party.  Her group staged the first political protest picketing the White House; Alice and others, who'd demonstrated peacefully to demand the vote for women, were arrested for their pains.  The charge?  Obstructing traffic.

So Alice got shipped off to prison, like you do, I guess, when you're...obstructing traffic.   Outraged by the conditions of the jail and the brutality she witnessed and endured, Alice went on a hunger strike.  This earned her a trip to the prison's psych ward, because as we all know you'd have to be pret-ty crazy not to like a nice, easy jailhouse beatin'.  There she was restrained and force-fed, with raw eggs pumped directly into her stomach.  Isn't that how all feminists like their eggs?  Over-uppity?

And that's all pretty hardcore, no question, but what really moved me was learning that once public pressure resulted in her release, she left the prison and returned to the steps of the White House the very. Same. Day.

Alice!  Of thee I sing.

So of course I loved all that, the stories, the symbols, the monuments.  Ben also enjoyed a monument, in particular the Lincoln Memorial. Standing at its foot I handed him a penny and then pointed at the big guy on at the top of the steps.  He looked at the penny, then looked at me.  Back at the penny.  Back at me.  Then he held the penny aloft, pointed at the heads side, and said, "Mama."

Mama-1

Mama.

Penny

Apparently also Mama.

For Charlie there were several highlights.  He loved, if I haven't said so yet, swimming in the hotel pool.  (Oh, did I mention it?  Well, so did he.)  The air and space museum was a big hit, if only for the fact that many of the exhibits had buttons to push and cranks to turn.  (The National Gallery, less so.  For some reason they get a little uptight there when you start diddling with the ailerons on the da Vinci.)  And as fascinating as he finds the notion of espionage, he was enthralled by talk of the Secret Service, if a little skeptical of their methods.  One afternoon six or seven helicopters were buzzing like mad over the Potomac.  We explained that when the president travels in Marine One, several other helicopters take off, too, as decoys.  He thought about it and then decided he was unimpressed: assassins would quickly detect the ruse, he said, "when they shoot one of the fakes and no dead president falls out."

Which is quite a visual.  Marine One's not just a helicopter.  It's a goddamn piñata of state.

Both kids are now at an age where they really get something out of traveling, and where they can be good companions instead of essentially noisy wheeled luggage that you have to feed.  Paul and I were no more harried than we would have been at home, and enjoyed the trip on its own merits.  (I for one never tire of muttering, "Bitch set me up," under my breath.  I do it all the time.  But there it had historical significance.)  I'm glad we went.  It was a really nice trip, when we weren't busy imagining duly elected corpses raining from the sky.

...

The Room Six Review of Books

Today was Read Across America, when kids in classrooms all across the country are enthusiastically encouraged to read.  (Let us not stop to consider what they're encouraged to do instead every other day.)  Since it's also the birthday of Dr. Seuss — surprise, infertile — there was naturally a curricular tie-in.

I asked Charlie if he'd read any Dr. Seuss books that were new to him.  Here is how the conversation went:

Julie [awkwardly, as if reading a line from a script]: Charlie, did you read any Dr. Seuss books that were new to you?

Charlie: Yes.

Julie: Which ones?

Charlie: The King's Stilts.

Julie: Oh.  What's...that about?

Charlie: A king with stilts.

Julie: Yeah, but what about him?

Charlie [astonished by my stupidity]: He. Had. Stilts.

Michiko Kakutani, you can relax.  Your job is perfectly safe.

...

Damn yankings

Tomorrow is widsom tooth day, since I turned down the Valentine's Day appointment they offered me.  The 8 AM time slot was bad enough, but as Tiffany put it, the fact that it was on my birthday was simply "ridiculous-flavored icing on the cake of No."

If you have any suggestions for soft foods that can be eaten lukewarm — my, doesn't that sound appetizing?  Wait, I know!  Raw eggs! — please share them here.  Especially if the recipes begin, "First sautée two Vicodin..."

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