Dear Time and Space Travel 3,
Let’s get the horror over with first: the Washington, DC fireworks, that is, the national, official celebration of ‘Merica’s birthday, and democracy, and freedom, and the right to tan as much as you want and swear and find love on tv, only lasted fourteen minutes.
Some possible explanations:
A) they forgot to light a crate that was stashed under the right thigh of the Jefferson memorial.
B) fireworks shows are really expensive and they were exercising budgetary restraint and solidarity with the common man, the way celebrities don’t wear as much jewelry to the Oscars during times of recession. (This is BS. If you’re wearing a couture gown that cost more than the down payment of the average house in a mid-size city, you can afford earrings, which in fact are lent to you for free, and the rest of us do not admire you for your restraint, we yell at our tv’s, because you’re supposed to be our escapism, dammit.)
C) Congress sets the budget for the city of Washington, DC, and all the congresspeople went home to “real” America, where their small towns set off 1.5 hours of fireworks and brought in choreographers from Los Angeles to direct the high school marching bands in Fosse-like spectacular arrangements. This is a convincing argument if I’ve ever heard one for making DC a municipality, or territory, or colony, or monarchy, or whatever it is those proponents of that thing want. Even Seattle, which is notoriously environmentally conscious and has really strict noise ban laws (it’s illegal to honk unless there is immediate danger) and generally is so hipster they can’t get excited about anything unless it’s ironically, has a longer fireworks show than this.
Ok. Well. Now that I’ve killed all your hopes and dreams, let’s talk about what else happened over the fourth of July weekend in Washington, DC.
It was Folklife and I listened to Motown and watched some men cut up some watermelon and took some terrible photos:
Someday we’ll talk about how I lose all fine-motor skills the minute I’m holding a camera (even if that camera is my iphone, which the internet assures me even an idiot can take pictures with).
In the meantime, I also saw the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and I exercised saint-worthy strength by not grabbing the vuvuzellas out of the hands of the pre-teens in line in front of me and whapping them across the heads with them.
At the Freer Gallery, I saw Whistler’s nocturnes, and also his paintings of British ladies dolled up to look like Japanese ones. Because, duh.
Later I ate tapas and went dancing. Like I said, the trip was horrible and I will never go back because it involved so many terrible things.
Saturday I took a nap. I think I also went to the farmer’s market and talked a lot about buying sparklers and went to hear a band play and had a great cocktail and played miniature golf and basically set new records at Skiball? But the nap, you guys. The nap was SO GOOD.
Sunday I went to the newseum, where I had to leave the exhibit on Pulitzer-prize winning photographs because it was making me cry (I needed a nap), and then took a nap during a thunderstorm and ate Salvadorian food while a dubbed “Blue Streak” played in the background. Martin Lawrence transcends language, you guys. You should have heard the mustachioed men laughing. Again, I thought about buying sparklers and talked about it frequently and still didn’t do it.
Monday I started to go back to the newseum, but got sidetracked by a sandwich, but then made it to the newseum, where I managed not to cry through the Katrina exhibit and very purposefully skipped the 9/11 exhibit and then I went to the Library of Congress, which is beautiful and has every book in the world ever, stored someplace where you can’t see them so they won’t distract you from the beautiful ceiling and floor. I’d show you the picture I took but it’s untenable, it’s so bad.
Then I went to Virginia. My stalwart sandwich-sharer had promised me I would not set foot in Virginia during this trip (mostly as a way to bring up the fact that while the Reagan airport is surrounded by Virginia, it does not rest on VA soil, as VA gave the airport land back to the DC sometime after George Washington kissed Martha for the last time and also sometime after airplanes were invented, if you insist on narrowing it down) (I was a history major, don’t try this kind of historical accuracy at home).
So he lied and I set foot in Virginia, which was fine. I mean, I didn’t experience any kind of world-shattering epiphany and I also wasn’t devastated, which was why I chose the word “fine,” meaning what it means, that is, “ok and stuff.”
Then it was hot and I got bit by some mosquitos and I tried to buy some sparklers off some kids, who were so busy being bratty they weren’t even watching the fireworks show their dad was putting on for them. In contrast, I pulled my lawn chair right out into the middle of the lawn and blatantly turned it to face their barbecue instead of my own so I could watch. I mean, COME ON. Fire and explosions and colors and whizzes and bangs! And no, they didn’t sell me any sparklers. The situation was getting desperate.
Then, you know, that thing-which-must-not-be-discussed (refer to the top of this page). I mean, guys, I don’t want to make DC feel bad or anything, but even short Ted talks last longer than that.
Let’s just say it renewed my desire to take my fate in my own hands and light my own sparkler. Cough.
So it’s ten o’clock at night, because the fireworks started at 9:15 and we sat around for 36 minutes after the show ended, talking about how we’d already been sitting around after the show for longer than the show itself lasted. I went to the bathroom and bought some fruit snacks out of a vending machine and talked about how that adventure took me longer than the fireworks show.
Then we got in a taxi to go home, which was surprisingly short because we miraculously avoided all traffic, but it still took longer than….you get the idea. So then I decided that I need sparklers, and I needed them NOW and also an ice cream cone, some fried chicken, and some watermelon. It’s possible what I really needed was a nap.
But, lo and behold, my fried-chicken/ice-cream/watermelon/sparkler-procurer procured all of those things. What, you don’t have one of these people in your life? (So the guy at the fireworks stand sold me the sparklers his wife had set aside for herself. He said, “There’s one missing from the pack, so I’ll sell it to you for half price.” She said, “Yeah, I used it. Those were going to be mine!” He said, “Woman, you got all the sparks you need right here in me.” She snorted doubtfully and I clutched my sparklers to my chest.)
Then the sparklers wouldn’t light. Tragedy was nigh. I tried to put on a brave face and disguise my grief by eating more fried chicken and involuntarily screaming every time someone else in the neighborhood lit off a rocket. But by almost burning the porch and by extension, the house, down, the fire got hot and the sparklers got sparked and I got my own private show, for the approximately 3.42 minutes that sparklers last.
Updated impressions of Washington, DC: I take impressively bad pictures and am surprisingly good at Skiball.
Soon: a comparison of U-turns in different cities I’ve been to and some wild generalizations about culture from said comparison.