After our exhausting Friday, detailed in my last post, we ended up sleeping in a puppy pile of sweaty drunkenness in the hotel room. A painfully short time later, we dragged our sad, slightly hung-over asses out of bed at 8:00 am, desperately trying to convince ourselves that we really did want to go visit D.C. still.
Grumpy puppies don’t give a crap about national culture.
We were this close to saying “To hell with it, Imma roll over and snuggle some more” but I pulled needy-tourist rank and said we had to go. What were the odds that I’d ever get back to D.C.? What were the odds that we would have done anything but sleep away the rest of our vacation time if I hadn’t lit a fire under us? What were the odds that I’d avoid spontaneous combustion if I didn’t reassert some personal space and clean off some of the club grunge?
Answer to all: Very low. Very low indeed.
3 hours later we were much more awake and moderately thrilled to be driving past the Washington Memorial. I say “moderately” because I was EXTREMELY thrilled, which brought up the low average of enthusiasm in the car in general. Happily embracing my bright, shiny sight-seer status once again, I snapped pictures of everything we passed that looked even slightly famous, planning to look it up later if it wasn’t clearly labeled.
”Look, famous, fanatical protesters!”
“Nope, nope, just normal ones. Dime a dozen around here. Don’t waste the camera space.”
And then, to my intense excitement, a Secret Service SUV pulled up next to us.
“Take a picture, take a picture!” everyone shouted.
I frantically fiddled with my zoom and pointed my camera, preparing to snap a picture when…The tinted window on the SUV slowly rolled down, and a harsh, fierce-looking Secret Service agent with a submachine gun glared out at us. We stared at him hopelessly for a moment, realizing that this time it was futile, that this time there was no way we were avoiding an espionage conviction.
The window rolled slowly back up. Our sh*t was officially f*&%#d, and no one would be able to help us. We were going to jail. We weren’t made for jail, but we were going, and all we wanted was a cool picture to show our friends. We’d been children before, but now our innocence was gone, and we realized just how ignorant we had been. The world was not a kind place, and we were about to experience it’s unavoidable wra—
The window rolled slowly back down once again.
The agent was grinning like a freaking fool.
“You should see your faces right now.”
…Oh fricking frick.
Oh fricking frickety frick.
“So, can we take a picture?” Bridgette asked. NOTHING PHASES THIS WOMAN.
“Yeah, yeah, that’s fine,” he said. The window rolled up as I raised my camera and took a quick picture, fingers shaking with the sudden adrenaline rush. At this point, I was on a hair trigger, freaking at the smallest thing. Hell, khaki was starting to give me a complex. Darn military.
As we drove away, Bridgette mentioned how it was cool that we were allowed to take a picture of the van, because there was no way we’d ever have been allowed to take a picture of the agents inside. My heart skipped a beat as I realized that I ALMOST DID THAT. IF HE HADN’T ROLLED UP HIS WINDOW FAST ENOUGH, I WOULD HAVE DONE IT, AND I WOULDN’T HAVE KNOWN BETTER. I CANNOT BE TRUSTED WITH THE POWER OF A CAMERA.
But there was no reason anybody else in the car had to know that.
This was the shot I got, and I still feel like a rebel posting it online. So much so that I’m a little afraid of clicking the “Publish” button.
I’mma do it anyway.
Other than the fact that for some reason we could not quit following the same secret service van (yeah, we’re spies, we’re just really bad at it), the next few hours were fairly uneventful. We shot distant pictures of the White House, Capitol Building, and various memorials through drizzling gloom, but we didn’t spend too much time on them as we were very, very excited to hit up the Smithsonian. Unfortunately, that’s when I realized I’d forgotten my medication, yet again.
“Oh, crap,” I said, holding onto the nearest railing to wait for the first dizzy spell to pass. “Oh, crap.”
I had to get to Erica. She would take care of me. Erica always took care of me, telling me when my bra was hanging out, feeding me cooked meals, making sure I didn’t kill obnoxious stupid people. Erica would do what had to be done.
“Erica, Erica, Erica!” I said, giggling a little. “Erica…I did it again.”
“What?” she asked, apprehension and resignation warring on her face.
“I…forgot my meds.”
“Oh crap,” she said. If you recall, this was not the first time Erica had had to save me from myself. Read this for a review: http://kaiodee.com/blogs/superkaiodee/11/02/07/thing-about-medication
“What do you need?”
“There’s only one thing that’s really worrying me right now,” I said, fighting to keep my face straight. Withdrawal makes me stupid.
"What? What do you need?" Erica asked, ready at a moment's notice to be my hero.
“Just…just make sure I behave myself around the dinosaurs.”
I DID behave myself.
Dear Triceratops, let me show you the dance of our people.
All in all I was a very good girl, and though we were all bone-tired after practically running through as much of the Smithsonian as we could, we limped back to the car with a feeling of satisfaction.
Unfortunately, on the way out of town we decided that it was imperative to stop one last time to view the Pentagon Memorial next to the Pentagon itself. The heavy drizzle from before had just gotten colder, and without umbrellas, we were an exceptionally somber, soggy group trekking through the site. The Navy section of our group grew even more solemn as they counted the number of their comrades represented in the memorial, though I doubt it could fail to affect anyone.
As we were about halfway through, a middle school tour group entered the memorial. I don’t know what it is about being a kid, but it sometimes makes you stupid about situations in which muted respect is expected. The kids dashed around the memorial, laughing raucously and making senseless jokes as they skirted the markers of the dead. I could feel the tension start to radiate from our group, especially from the Navy people. I wanted to say something to the kids, but like everyone else, I did my best to restrain myself.
One group of boys pushed the envelope, however, shouting and running and generally being as obnoxious as they possibly could. Bridgette and Amanda, another member of the Navy, stalked out of the memorial muttering furiously to each other.
“Yeah, I’d love to kick their asses, too,” Bridgette said loudly, for the boys’ benefit. I think one of the kids heard her and started to get it, as he paused and frowned. Then, he turned and began to read the script at the beginning of the memorial.
“Dude, what are you doing?” one of the others asked him.
“Dude, shut up!” he snapped. Embarrassment and sincerity conflicted in his voice. “I’m being serious right now. Seriously, just shut up.”
“Oh, he’s being SERIOUS now,” the other boys joked, but he kept reading and ignored them.
I was ready to forgive the whole group for the bravery of that one boy, until one of his friends started jogging away from the memorial, determined to bring asinine humor back to the situation, bellowing “We will NEVER FORGET, we will NEVER FORGET, we will NEVER FOR—“
“Forget this,” Bridgette snarled.
All of a sudden, she was gone from my peripheral vision, and I spun in time to see her march up to the boys and stop them in their tracks. I hurried after, not sure if I wanted to restrain her or pitch in.
Turned out I didn’t need to do either.
“I’m FC3 M***, and I’m a member of the US Navy,” Bridgette snarled in their stunned faces, as the teachers who’d been supervising them walked meekly past and left them to their fates.
The boys, who’d moments before been so very, very full of themselves, stood like teeny, tiny deer in the lights of an oncoming train.
“I’m assigned to the ship that represents this memorial. Do you know what that means?” The boys said nothing, frozen under her glare.
“Show some respect,” she growled.
I wasn’t even sure they were still breathing until one of the boys managed to whimper, “Okay.”
This adorable, 5-foot-nothing woman appeared to be one of the scariest things they’d ever seen. Frankly, I didn’t want to be on the other end of that death glare, no matter what I’d done wrong. It’s hard to explain in text just how intimidating she became in 10 seconds’ time.
However, pictures are worth a thousand words.
Tiny but fierce
I’d never seen this side of Bridgette, but I realized then that she would never need me to loom over her shoulder, and that her stature would never hinder her ability to knock an idiot to the ground.
“Have a nice day,” she said, pointing towards the bus the boys had come on, and they scattered like she’d fired a shot in the air.
I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of her than I was in that moment, and that if being in the Navy gave her this much strength, I could forgive it for trying to put me in jail and for possibly ruining family time forever, at least on my Dad’s side. When it comes to mocking, the Doziers show no mercy.
Still, as I type this with the throbbing headache of withdrawal and new gray hairs in my head, I cannot wish that I’d skipped the trip.
And I can never say we don’t keep it interesting.
Chevy Chase understands how I feel.