[Okay, so the title is somewhat disingenuous. I don’t date, at least in part, because HC doesn’t think it’s a good idea.]
Well, the day finally arrived. On Tuesday, Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president of the United States. And HC got us tickets to the ceremony. Not sure who he had to sleep with to make that dream a reality, but I couldn’t have been more proud.
Now, don’t get too excited. In many ways, Tuesday was a comedy of errors. Don’t get me wrong. It was great to be there. The moment really did feel historic. Standing with people who traveled from Georgia and Minnesota and California and all around the country to witness this momentous event was, in and of its self, remarkable, moving, and inspiring.
But this shindig did happen in the District of Columbia, a town not known for its efficiency and ability to deal with crowds well. So… shit was fucked up.
Early AM Shenanigans: I’ve had some troubling sleeping the last few months. But January has brought full nights of sleep back. But the one morning I had to be up before 9am, I could not sleep. When I woke up at 4am, that was it. Until, of course, 6:25am – 5 minutes before the alarm went off. Great! The day was not starting off well. .
My people weren’t meant for cold weather: Every person I talked to about going to the inauguration made it a point to tell me that I had to layer. “Don’t forget to layer.” “You know, you really need to layer.” “You are wearing gloves and a hat, right? Oh, and don’t forget to layer.” Christ! Yeah, I get it. I need to layer. And, for those folks who know me well, you know that I fucking hate to layer. I fucking hate wearing gloves or a hat or anything on my ears. Fucking hate!
But I think I did a good job layering. To the shock of many, I own, and wore on Tuesday, long johns, some super-warm gloves, this earmuff contraption, and a super-warm scarf. Then I made one crucial mistake – I wore sneakers with just one pair of socks. This would come back to bite me later.
Tourists + Metro = Hot Mess: DC deals with tourists, who seemingly can’t cross the street without assistance, all the time. Generally, for me, this means that I steer clear of any spot that could be even remotely thought of as a tourist location. This includes avoiding the metro unless absolutely necessary. So for me, the inauguration forced me to walk straight into the lions’ den. Not only did I have to commingle with tourists at every turn, I had to take the metro – with said tourists. And good G-d, there were a lot of them.
After having to let 3 trains go, a near breakdown by me – and a threat that I would leave him at the metro station – convinced HC that we had to just push our way onto the next train, regardless of how packed it was. Great success!
Purple Gate Entrance: We had tickets to the purple north standing section. This section, it would turn out, was the worst section to have tickets to. Everything about gaining access to the ticketed sections of the Mall was fucked up. No one – and I mean NO ONE – had any idea where anything was. Nothing was roped off. There were no signs that were worth a damn. One would think that, if you are standing beneath the “Purple Gate Entrance” sign that you would be somewhere near the purple gate entrance. But no, this would be way too easy. So we just stood next to some folks with purple tickets and hoped for the best. Shockingly, we got into the purple standing area before 9am.
We’re in! Now what?: Standing around in the cold with strangers might be fun for some, but this is not enjoyable for me. Even with beer, this would not be fun for me. I think this is why I don’t care for football. But there was this feeling of excitement in the air. So there was that.
Where’s the Podium?: While we were pretty darn close to the podium (comparatively speaking, that is), we could not for the life of us find the damn thing. We had a great view of the teleprompter or jumbo-tron or whatever it is you call that thing. But even that had a tree in front of it. We thought that maybe HC could see the podium because of his great height. But alas, no. Still, this didn’t bother me at all. I just didn’t care. Being there and seeing 2/3 of the jumbo-tron seemed like more than enough. I mean, Barack Obama was about to be sworn in up there!
Christ, it’s colder than I thought: My failure to wear insulated shoes and/or a second pair of socks was a huge mistake. HUGE. My feet, which were well planted in the cold, wet grass, were like blocks of ice.
O-ba-ma!: Even with Chief Justice Roberts’ attempt to sabotage this historic moment, being there for the oath and the speech made every ounce of cold worth it.
Shit, not again: The exit from the purple section was way more orderly than the way in. But it was clear that our only option was to walk home… again. Whatever, we have a new president and I feel great. Even as a bird shit on my head (not lying), I felt good. There’s no raining – or shitting – on this parade. Though I did not go to the parade. I desperately needed to warm up and eat something.
My mother wants to know how my balls were: HC and I had tickets to two unofficial balls. One was the NJ Society ball. It was a little cheesy, what with the “It’s a Shore Thing” signs and the green felt card tables section and the E Street cover band. But the party was sponsored by Ketel One, my vodka of choice, so once again, NJ rocks it out. The second ball, cleverly named the Blue Ball, was a different story. Due to the extreme cold, the closed roads, a tragically clueless cab driver, and the fact that I was in basically a nightgown, we didn’t make it.
[Sidebar: I’d like someone to pass a law making it a requirement that cab drivers’ pass some sort of district geography test before giving them their credentials. I mean, some of these folks have no idea where anything is. Worst still, they have no idea what the quickest route to anything is. With the zone, it didn’t really matter. But with those outrageously expensive meters now, oh it matters. The New Yorker in me can’t stay contained.]