Saturday, July 3, 2010
"Bobby, if you want to move, now's the time," I whispered.
He surveyed the hallway down which we were walking as I turned to scan the staircase we'd just emerged from.
Heavily-armed guards stood everywhere, their hulking assault rifles poised and at the ready to take down an enemy intruder at a moment's notice. Bobby and I had come there with the whitest of motives, but what we saw within soured us, turned us against them.
I looked up to determine if the man supervising our government instruction could see me. He was rounding a corner ahead of us and, momentarily, would be out of our line of sight.
"We have to decide now!" I hissed.
"I don't know," Bobby waffled. "I...you decide."
The program had proceeded like a nightmare from which I wanted but was unable to escape, and I was determined not to let it take my friend and me down. I looked up and made a split-second decision where he could not.
"Let's get the fuck out of here," I decreed.
We dropped back, all adrenaline now that the talk was over and the action begun. I tore the communication piece they'd handed me off of my shirt and watched as Bobby did the same. We had only seconds before we were noticed, so the getaway had to be clean and quick.
I spotted a handler near an entryway and walked toward her as quickly as I could without attracting undue suspicion. My cousin was one of their ranks, the handlers, and they knew it. It just might be enough to secure our safe passage. If it wasn't, ours would be a fate worse than death.
I glided up to the woman and placed my earpiece in her hands.
"We're going rougue," I informed her, trusting she would understand the code.
She looked at me with perplexity that stopped just short of annoyance.
"I'm sorry, what?" she asked.
"We're going rogue," I answered. "Like Sarah Palin."
"Oh, are you done with the tour then?"
"Yes," I replied gravely. "Yes."
Bobby turned in his headset and in a flash we were down a corridor and out through the back exit of the U.S. Capitol building, spared by my fast feet and faster thinking from a torture session of boredom that, by its conclusion, likely would have rivaled anything to go on in Guantanamo Bay.
"I'm so sorry I forced you into that," I apologized to Woozie, who was laughing at my eagerness to be free of the place. "Now we can finally hit Starbucks."
Woozie and I, following a first meetup in December that went swimmingly, had been planning for some time to rendezvous once more in the nation's capital, but scheduling conflicts and car trouble on my end delayed the reunion until literally the day before everyone's favorite nineteen-year-old communist had to leave for Ohio.
Wasington, D.C. is by no means a stroll down the block for me. My trip there involved hours driving, about an hour on a bus, and more time than I care to recall on several different trains, but it was worth it for the coolness of a blogger meetup and at about one o'clock in the afternoon I finally made it into the city.
Woozie, with whom I'd gotten on quite well before, proved very obliging to my hunger, whipping out an iPhone that directed us to an affordable and high quality restaurant where I devoured cornbread, New England mussels, seasoned fries, and an impressive portion of a massive cheeseburger.
"Wow," Woozie said, staring with what I don't feel boastful in saying was astonishment as I attacked and vanquished the plate in front of me. "If I ate like you, I'd weigh three hundred pounds."
During the subsequent walk around Washington we mused on a variety of topics, from where we would go next to which museum was least boring to what degree our gayness was patent to others.
That particular subject came up because we'd been stopped by an activist, not five minutes after leaving the Metro station, who asked us if we had a few moments to spare for gay rights.
"I mean, is it really that obvious?" I pondered.
"Well, maybe with you," he posited. "With your flowing blonde hair."
"Oh, I know," I said, not even bothering to note the rudeness of his statement. "It really is getting a bit out of hand. I saw my own reflection in the window just there, and for a split second I seriously thought I was a girl."
We finally wound up stopping at the United States Capitol, where, following a journey of several blocks on foot, I was hot, thirsty, bored, and, to Woozie's surprise, slightly famished.
"I hope this tour is cool," I said.
"Yeah, me, too," he replied.
"I'm kind of thirsty. Are you?"
"I have no idea what we're going to do after this. There has to be something in this city."
"I'm sure we'll figure it out."
"If this introduction movie is too long I'm going to shoot myself."
"You know what, I'm kind of hungry again."
"You are everything that's wrong with America."
I'd roped Woozie into a Capitol tour because of the fond memories I had of it from high school. One of my cousins is an employee of the federal government, and, as such, was able to pull some strings and arrange a behind-the-scenes view of the legislature for my father and I when I was seventeen. What I did not account for this time was that, because I'd given no advance notice of our arrival, we'd be on the much different public tour, with its restricted spaces, crowded floors, irritated guides, and hollow lecturing.
"This pretty much blows," I told Woozie just moments after I mimed shooting my own brains out.
When I came here in 2005, I had the chance to ride the Senators' subway, enter the Upper Chamber, and come close enough to touch both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Yesterday, though, I couldn't so much as head for the bathroom without asking. Thus the escape plan was hatched.
After our very relieved flight from what its caretakers perversely referred to as "the Temple of Liberty," Woozie and I trekked to Starbucks for some coffee and cookies before hopping onto Metro and riding over to Dupont Circle.
We spent our time in the popular outdoor hangout lounging about, taking blogging pictures, eavesdropping on homeless men discussing their intimate knowledge of espionage, and talking about our respective families.
I told him of my household's efforts to save money and my parents' job searches during the recession, while he confided in me his worries as he reaches the halfway point of his college career, roughly the same place I was, incidentally, when I first started this blog.
After a stop at a huge bookstore in the middle of the city and some interesting conversation over different things we found in the World History section, it was time to go. Seven-thirty had come up on us without our realizing it, and I had a very long commute home.
"Listen, in all seriousness, I had a great time today," I told him as we prepared to board two trains going in opposite directions. "We should do this again sometime."
"Definitely," he said.
"Will you be home in the winter?" I asked.
"I should be," he said. "For Thanksgiving and Christmas."
"Well, let me know," I said. "I have to get you to visit my town."
He looked wary at that.
"Oh, come on," I prodded. "It's not so bad. It has a certain charm."
"I wouldn't really mind," he said. "I was down for it when you invited me earlier. If you'd been able to pick me up I would have gone."
"Well, we'll figure something out."
"For sure," he said. "See you then?"
"See you then."