I was in Washington DC last week for the first time, and I wanted to see the sights. “Take a bus tour at night,” my parents said. “You can see all of the monuments lit up.” I thought that sounded like a brilliant idea because I figured the darkness would make it easier to see what I wanted to see (the Lincoln Memorial) and harder to see what I didn’t want to see (old men in half shirts). I immediately went online and bought two tickets.
With me on the tour was my friend Isabel who is super fun and smart, but she talks realllyreallyreally fast because she’s from New York City. No long pauses between words to scratch her ears like a Texan. She also has very passionate feelings about a restaurant called Shake Shack, and she couldn’t contain them when we stopped in for dinner.
“ISN’T THIS FUN? ISN’T THIS AMAZING? DO YOU WANT THE SHROOM BURGER? YOU SHOULD TOTALLY GET THE SHROOM BURGER. LET’S GET SHROOM BURGERS! AND WINE. WHITE WINE? IS WHITE WINE GOOD FOR YOU? I LOVE SHAKE SHACK!!”
“I have a long-standing policy against eating vegetables on a bun.”
“BUT IT’S SHAKE SHACK SO THE SHROOM IS BREADED AND DEEP FRIED AND FILLED WITH HOT MELTED CHEESE! THAT’S WHAT THEY DO AT SHAKE SHACK! I LOVE SHAKE SHACK!!!”
And then the teenage cashier carded us because he thought we were 20-year-olds who looked 40 because of heroin.
After dinner (I LOVE SHAKE SHACK!!), we made our way to the tour bus, which was a typical charter bus inexplicably named the “Exquisite.” We then met our tour guide, whose name I didn’t catch, but since he looked like an ex-Marine/John Candy, let’s call him “Tank.” Tank was very serious that his bus run on time, so he made all 40 passengers stand on the sidewalk and COUNT OFF one by one. This continued every time we got off the bus and back on. Super fun and also, very nerve wracking when you’re not skilled at counting above ten like me. Nothing like the fear of accidentally saying “eleventeen” to keep you on your toes.
Our first stop on the tour was The White House where Isabel and I tried to jump the fence. I’m not going to say if we were successful or not, but just know that new legislation that’ll add Ryan Gosling’s face to Mount Rushmore was recently passed.
Next, Tank drove us to a few more memorials. It was absolutely incredible to finally see them all in person, but at each one, he would tell us how many minutes of “free time” we had. “THIS HERE’S THE WORLD WAR II MEMORIAL AND THE BATHROOMS AREN’T VERY CLEAN, SO USE CAUTION. YOU HAVE 11 MINUTES OF WALKING AROUND TIME. THE EXQUISITE PULLS OUT AT 8:23PM, NO STRAGGLERS!”
He wasn’t kidding. “WHERE’S THE ASIAN COUPLE?” he yelled at the Lincoln Memorial. “WHERE’S THE BLACK COUPLE?” he barked at the Vietnam Memorial. “I DO NOT BELIEVE IN NO MAN LEFT BEHIND!” After Isabel and I showed up 30 seconds late and found the Exquisite doors shut, we wondered what Tank was yelling about us. “WHERE’S THE ITALIAN AND HER NORWEGIAN HEALTH AIDE? WHERE’S THE LESBOS? WHERE THE HELL ARE CAGNEY AND LACEY?” Maybe we don’t want to know what he said.
There was then an incident on the Exquisite involving perfume dropped in the bus bathroom. “AND BY PERFUME, I DON’T MEAN PERFUME!” Tank informed us. “DO NOT GO IN THERE IF YOU KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR YOU.” Nothing like cruising past the Pentagon while you’re wondering which jackass on the bus broke the plumbing with fecal matter.
As the 3 1/2 hour tour continued, Isabel switched from being passionate about Shake Shack to being passionate about Forrest Gump. “Oh, my God, do you know what happened here?” she asked at the Washington Memorial.
“Yes, that was a good one,” she said while lifting up her knees and pantomiming wading. “But also JENNY WENT THROUGH THE WATER TO GET TO FORREST! HEY, FORREST! HEY, FORREST! IT’S JENNY! HERE I COME, FORREST!”
Then the next time we saw a statue of a soldier, she brought up the Forrest Gump war scenes. “Remember Bubba Gump? He was in the war with Forrest. The shrimp guy! Fried shramp, boiled shramp, buttered shramp…”
“THE BUS IS LEAVING IN TWO MINUTES! WHERE ARE THE MEXICANS?”
Next at the MLK memorial, we just stared in wonder. Even Tank STFU for a few minutes.
Finally we reached the Marine Corps Memorial, where I immediately tripped and smashed my hand on the sidewalk. That’s the downside to a nighttime tour. Tripping and smashing. My hand hurting like crazy and needing help, I called out to Isabel. However, she was way too busy listening to Tank tell a 300 minute long anecdote about a Marine named Frankie and how his mother recognized his butt in Life Magazine to hear me. “Isabel!” I tried again as blood started to drip down my wrist. “Isabel!” Nothing. Like Forrest running across the United States, I was desperately alone and starting to grow a beard. My thighs began to chafe.
But then, then I came to my senses and did the only thing that made sense. I cleared my throat, pressed my bleeding hand against my chest and yelled with all of the strength I had left inside me, “LIEUTENANT DAN! LIEUTENANT DAN!”
Within seconds, Isabel was at my side. With a napkin from Shake Shack and a bottle of water she stole from Tank’s private cooler.
God Bless America.
More later this week about the ONE conference and all of the amazing things I learned.
This post is part of a blog hop where some friends of mine all used the “I did x so you don’t have to” format. Go see!
I Listened to KidzBop So You Don’t Have To – Midlife Mixtape
I Had Food Poisoning While Sitting On A Diaper Genie So You Don’t Have To – Smacksy
I Spent 3 Solid Days Obsessing Over Grout So You Don’t Have To – Elizabeth McGuire
I Wrote Another Godforsaken Blogiversary Post So You Don’t Have To – Ann Imig
I’m Surviving October So You Don’t Have To – Tarja Parssinen