Monday, March 1, 2010

Stop the Bus! I'm Having a DC Moment.

If you aren't a very political person, living in Washington DC will change that.

Politics is all around you. It permeates the air. It's in the water. Along with lead and trace pharmaceuticals.

Take for example the DC moment I had yesterday. I'm sitting with my son on the H4 bus going to Whole Foods to buy some bulgar wheat. I had just read in this Magic Foods book that I really need to eat this grain if I want to live longer. And since I do, buying bulgar wheat moved to the top of my to-do list.

The bus passes by Sidwell Friends, the Quaker school where the Obama girls go. I look over and see Malia swinging a tennis racket with her classmates on the court just a few yards away from the road. Sigh. I hope my son gets into a good school where he can learn tennis. The DC school lottery, where parents learn the fate of their children's education, is tomorrow. And even with all my research and leg work, it feels so arbitrary. No chance of getting into Sidwell. It's private, for one. And even with one of their teachers, make that one of their former teachers, facing allegations of child sex abuse, it's still the elitist of the elite.

I know. I don't equate the Quakers with Elitism either. But there you have it.

The bus stops alongside a triad of young male professionals you might normally see in this neighborhood wearing black pea coats and khakis. Except these guys are all wearing dark sunglasses and have the distinctive white spiral wire curling behind their ears making them look like very casually-dressed androids. Oh. "These aren't the droids you're looking for." These are Malia and Sasha's Secret Service detail.

As the bus passes them, I wonder how they are trained to see us. Us Everyday People. Who arouses their suspicions? I bet that homeless guy hunkering down in front of a brick wall doesn't concern them at all. He could even leave one of his many bags unattended and they wouldn't blink. A luxury afforded the homeless.

I feel like waving. To the Secret Service detail. Not the homeless guy. Not that I have anything against homeless people. He would probably enjoy it. Then again, who am I to assume. But I don't wave. To anyone. Waving may be classified as stalker behavior, enough reason for them to throw me and my child in that Secret Service paddy wagon parked down the street.

DC is small. If you live here long enough you're bound to have many DC moments. And this one is warm and fuzzy. It involves children and Quakers. How could it not be?

Some DC moments aren't. Like the time my husband and I were having lunch after a Michael Moore matinee featuring Fahrenheit 9/11. Love him or hate him, it's really quite impossible to feel ambivalent after watching one of his films. I was sitting there feeling considerably non-ambivalent about the whole Let's Attack Iraq thing when then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice passed by on her way to her usual table. Her jacket sleeve brushed my back.

"Check, please."

Love her or hate her, Dr. Rice is not warm and fuzzy.

My husband's favorite DC moment, officially on record, involves Veep Dick Cheney, his motorcade and the Middle Finger.

It's the little things.

Please don't think us stark, raving mad partisans. Some of our closest friends are Republicans.

Well. That's exaggerating things a bit.

But I was nearly eviscerated at a party once for daring to question some of Obama's campaign promises. What can I say. I was raised on a healthy diet of Mark Twain and taught to distrust all politicians. Even the hot ones.

Anyway, if politicians didn't fudge the truth just a wee bit, we'd have to scrap all those good political jokes. "Politicians are like diapers. They should be changed frequently. And for the same reason." One of my favorites.

But it wasn't my intent to be political. Here or in general. It's just hard to avoid when you live in this town.