Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Honeymoon Of The Millennium (The Finale - Sort Of)

(Part One is HERE. Part Two is HERE. Unless I miss my guess, Part Three is just outside of these parentheses.)

People who have been together for a very long time have a sort of verbal shorthand. They can say a short phrase, or even a single word, and it will speak volumes for the person in the know.

My Father and I had one. He had a favorite joke – which I won’t tell here, because it’s extremely long and involved – but the punch line was, “Oh, him? Fuck him!” I knew the joke, so if we were in the company of those who didn't know the joke, and somebody was mentioned whom my father couldn’t stand, he would say, “Oh, him?” and I understood that the rest of the punch line followed, no matter what nice social lies he might feel obligated to tell to the people with whom we were currently.

MY WIFE and I picked up a couple of our shorthand phrases during our honeymoon.

The first came about because, from the months preceding our wedding, up until our wedding, and on our honeymoon in Boston, Hershey, and Wilmington, we had said to each other, “Well, we can relax when we get to [fill in the blank]” At first we ended it by saying “…The Parker House,” then it changed to “…Hershey,” and then to “…Wilmington”, and finally to “Well, we can relax when we get to Washington.” The idea, of course, was that we still had shitloads of bothersome details to take care of, but it would all be over fairly soon and will have turned out to be worth it in the end.

Nowadays, if we say, “Well, we can relax when we get to Washington,” it means we know damn well there’s a whole bunch more work to do and we may or may not actually get to relax when it’s done.

We picked up the other on the train between Wilmington and Washington. There’s a stop just outside of DC called Carrollton. As the train was approaching the station, a conductor walked through our car saying, “Carlton. Carlton next stop.”

A person across the aisle from us said, with great indignity, “That’s CARROLTON!”

The conductor, with a sneer and a shrug of his shoulders, said, “Whatever...”

This hasn’t become shorthand for us, so much as it has become a comedy routine that nobody else in the world would get. One of us will say something - anything. The other person, recognizing that the first person mispronounced a word or made some other silly mistake, will say, “Carlton,” and then the first person says “That’s CARROLTON!” and then the other will say, with a sneer and a shrug of the shoulders, “Whatever...”

Cracks us up every time.


Washington, DC, is an amazing city. There are the usual tourist destinations – The White House, The Washington Monument, The Lincoln Memorial, The Smithsonian – and then there are literally hundreds of other interesting places to go and things to see. Every block contains a museum dedicated to some intriguing facet of American history. You walk down any street and come across statues, memorials, monuments, markers, and other fascinating things you didn’t even know existed and which half the guidebooks don’t tell you about.

For instance, we were just strolling along, having come out of the subway on our way to take a tour of the U. S. Treasury, and we saw, tucked in behind a bunch of bushes and weeds, a memorial to Franklin Delano Roosevelt. It was about the size of a large gravestone. This was the man who held the Presidency longer than anyone else in the country’s history, and probably shaped – for better or worse – the country as we know it today, more than any other President in the 20th century. It was basically just a hunk of stone with a few dates scribbled on it. It seemed so incongruous that this little piece of rock, tucked in amongst some gigantic buildings and mostly covered in foliage, was supposed to represent this gigantic figure in history.

(Nowadays, there are much bigger memorials to him. That's mostly because some politically-correct assholes wanted people to see him in a wheelchair, something Roosevelt himself assiduously avoided. Of course, Roosevelt also said that he didn't want any big memorials to him built when he died. Carlton. CARROLLTON. Whatever.)

But that’s the way it is in Washington, at least for the most part. The actual government of today is huge and yesterday isn’t.

The huge part: It takes a while to get used to the scale of things in that city. You think the government buildings in your city are big? You haven’t seen government buildings until you see them in DC. They are hulking behemoths of bureaucracy, taking up entire city blocks, their vastness making even the most dedicated liberal sure to wonder if maybe just a couple of the offices inside might be occupied by people who aren’t truly needed to keep the country running. As a Libertarian, I found their massiveness to be almost physically oppressive at times.

As for the past being not so big, that’s mostly true, too. Sure, there are the gigantic marble obelisks and cathedral-like memorials to great men of our past, but those things that they crafted, and which are supposed to be treasured and sacred, are ripped apart piece by little piece every day within the actual current government. The Fourth Amendment to The Constitution was written for some very good reasons, but try to find somebody willing to defend it with his blood in today’s Washington and you’ll likely need to take up residence for a coupe of months before you do.

(Well, maybe somebody would defend it, if the First Amendment weren’t being used as toilet paper. However, I’ve gone off on a political rant, haven’t I? Sorry about that.)

(Name a senator. Oh, him?)

So, where was I? Ah, yes! It was our honeymoon! We were relatively young, very much in love, and happy to be someplace where we could finally relax! So the first thing MY WIFE did, when we checked in to our hotel, was take a nap. I, on the other hand, being a much more excitable type (as witnessed by the bloviating above) wanted to get out and see some history right away. And I knew just where to do it, too. Ford’s Theater was only a couple of blocks from our hotel. I decided to take a walk down there while MY WIFE snoozed. The place is, after all, integral to one of my favorite jokes (“Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, did you enjoy the play?”) and admission was free, which is always a plus.

It is tiny, not at all the grand building you expect that a president would have gone to see a play. I gigged at larger venues when I was a bum musician. It’s small size makes it that much more accessible as history, though. You can walk around the whole inside of the building in about three minutes. And there aren’t a hundred balcony boxes to wonder if that was the one where Lincoln was assassinated or maybe some other one. As soon as you walk in, it’s apparent.

The box he was sitting in when shot is sealed off. You can’t walk in, sit down in his chair, and pretend that you’re him. I would have liked to have done so. I suppose everybody would and that’s why you can’t. You look through a glass pane in the door leading to it, but that’s as close as you get. It’s actually better to look up at it from the orchestra seats and imagine the amazing panic that must have swept the small crowd when Booth fired his gun, leaped from the box onto the stage – breaking his ankle in the process – and then shouted “Sic Semper Tyrannus!” before hobbling away as fast as he could on one good foot. I sat in one of the seats near the stage and marveled at how empty it was. I think I was the only one there, aside from a couple of maintenance men.

Now, that’s just one of the places we went (well, that I went – MY WIFE was sawing wood, as you’ll remember.) There is just so much in that city worth talking about, that I can’t possibly fit it all in here, and especially so when considering my penchant for digression. So, I’ll give you a laundry list of places we went, and things we saw, and if I give short shrift to something for which you’d like more in-depth information, I'll trust in your forgiving nature.

The Smithsonian – It is enormous. To truly see everything in it would take a couple of 8-day weeks. There’s something for everyone, and if you don’t find the exhibit you’re currently viewing interesting, just go around any corner. We saw Mister Rogers’s sweater and Archie Bunker’s chair, among other things. The appellation “America’s Attic” is fitting. The one thing we didn’t see was the flag that flew over Fort McHenry and which inspired Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner. It is only brought out from the darkness for viewing a few minutes at a time, in an effort to preserve it from too much exposure to light, and every time we heard the announcement that the flag was now going on display, we were too far away to get there before they tucked it away again. We missed it over and over. MY WIFE thinks they don’t really have it there, but just make the announcements to put it into people’s heads that it actually exists.

The Jefferson Memorial – We walked along the basin, by the many cherry trees, late at night. We later found that this might not have been the safest thing to do. Carlton, Carrolton, whatever. We made it safely to what some of the locals refer to as The Muffin, because of its shape. This was special for me, as I think Jefferson is probably the greatest of our founders. He was a brilliant man. Would that we had a Jefferson around today to compare in real life with the bozos asking for our votes.

The Supreme Court – We got to see the justices delivering verdicts. Not too many of the people who tour the building have a chance to actually see the Court sitting. We lucked out. We happened to be in the right place at the right time. It was quite exciting to see them file out, take their seats, and then hear opinions.

We rode the DC subway, of course. I found it both wonderful and disappointing. It is tremendously efficient and the stations are clean. However, it is the very model of how government does things. Every station looks more-or-less like every other station. There is no individuality, nothing to love. It is soulless.

The Treasury – We saw them make money. It was a heck of a good tour. I wish they had let us take souvenirs.

I went to see Libertarian Party headquarters, which at that time was located in a slum. I’ve spoken about this before, though, so I won’t bore you with it again.

And, what you’ve been waiting for, I’m sure: We ate éclairs the size of footballs.

There is a bakery inside of Union Station and it sells what have to be the most ridiculously huge éclairs in the world. They are – I am not kidding – the size of an NFL football. They’re delicious. I wish I had one now.

We were just walking around the station, looking for nothing in particular, and we passed by this bakery. Inside their display case, we saw these amazing treats. Now, anybody who knows me well knows that éclairs are probably my dessert of choice. Every year, for my birthday, my Mom has éclairs instead of a birthday cake because she knows how much I love them. When I saw these éclairs, I had a small orgasm. I had to have one.

We bought one and took it back to the hotel. I’m good for at least two éclairs at any time. On a good day, I can eat a half-dozen. This ONE took me two sittings, and I was being gluttonous even then. It was, in all seriousness, the greatest éclair the world has ever known. If it had been running for office, I would have voted for it over Jefferson himself. If I were a condemned man, I would specifically ask for one of those éclairs for my last meal. It was that good.

If you are ever in Washington and buy one of these for me, I'll have sex with you (or promise to never have sex with you - your choice.)


I’ve got to wrap this up, and it’s a shame. So many other places we saw and things we did. There’s a lovely little story about MY WIFE going out to Popeye’s to get me some mashed potatoes, but it will have to wait until another day. Likewise my hour wait in line for a five-second viewing of The Constitution.

We had a fantastic honeymoon and we got home safely. I’m skipping detail now because I have to start packing for our anniversary trip.

Yes, we’re going away for our anniversary. And, once again, we’re taking the train, only this time it’s to New York. This afternoon we leave, returning to Boston on Sunday evening. In between, we’ll have dinner at The French Culinary Institute one night (our actual anniversary, Friday) and at Peter Luger’s another. We’ll visit with MY WIFE’s brother, who lives in Brooklyn. We’ll ride the marvelous New York City Subway system because, hell, I just can’t get enough of trains. We’ll visit a couple of interestingly odd museums, and we’ll attend church on Sunday in a fantastic piece of architecture on the West Side. We’ll probably end up going to Birdland or some such for a little music.

We can relax when we get to Washington.

Anyway, here’s the thing. I have no ending to this story. This is going to sound so corny, you’ll think you could put this blog into a microwave and make popcorn, but the reason there’s no ending is because The Honeymoon Of The Millennium is ongoing. It didn’t end when we returned to Boston; it just took on a different character. It won’t end until one of us dies, and maybe (God willing) not even then.

I have been blessed beyond measure, given a gift beyond price. I am one of the luckiest men in creation. I got to marry my absolute soul mate. She is MY WIFE. She is also MY LIFE.

Soon, with more better stuff.

14 comments: said...

You weren't lying...that's a big éclair!

Anonymous said...

I didn't read... I skimmed and came full stop at the giant eclair. Holey Moley!

Am'n2Deep said...

Hey--my sis makes me a chocolate eclair cake for my birthday--it is my absolute fave! Between 'saving the spiders' and an affection for eclairs I think we just might be soul mates--oh yeah, except you already have one, and so do I. :)

Anyway, Happy Anniversary! Have a fabulous time! I was just commenting on a post last night that I can't wait to go to NY with my husband--so I might be just a tad bit envious...

And being the sap that I am, I loved your "corny" ending.

Buck said...

Happy Anniversary, Jim! I was gonna wait until tomorrow to send my wishes, but you'll be in New Yawk.

Enjoy yourselves! (Which, judging from the foregoing, is a lot like saying "breathe!") You have been truly blessed.

Anonymous said...

OK Eclairs aside... The very best and I do mean the BEST museum in DC may be found at the Department of the Interior. It is not advertised and few... VERY FEW people even know of its existence. They have the largest collection of Curtis Prints, original surveyors reports from the west, mining exhibits, Eskimo exhibits .. well on and on. It is free and the most people I have ever seen there at one time was 3. As a former bureaucrat who toiled away on a daily basis so you could enjoy happiness and prosperity (under a Democrat naturally), I loved those large buildings that were the centerpiece of my agency. :)

katydidnot said...

1. i want that cake
2. i bet obama and hilary and mccain could all use the "we can relax when we get to washington" line.

John-Michael said...


The note that you closed this chapter in is as good as this planet has to offer any of us.

I salute you, Sir!

Chris Stone said...

What a wonderful honeymoon story... I don't think I've seen the Ford theater and I know I haven't been to the museum at the Dept of Interior. Will definitely do that next time... but I'll pass on the eclair! Reading about it was calories enough.

Deni said...

Wow what wonderful relationship you have,you are both truly blessed.

Take care and thanks again I enjoy reading you blog.


Melinda said...

She's lucky to have you too! Hope you enjoy your ongoing honeymoon :)

Happy Anniversary!!

Jeni said...

Although I worked in D.C. for 8 years, if I hadn't gone on our senior class trip to Washington, I'd never have seen ANY of the sights around the town. The "Carlton-Carrollton-Whatever" story though reminds me of my older daughter and I and a particular episode of WKRP in Cincinnati when I think all the characters were stuck in an elevator; Dr. Fever was going to rescue them and they were going to lower him down the shaft with a rope only for him to learn they were only I think a foot away from the floor or something like that. Anyway, his line was "Tarzan no need rope." Any little thing that may pop up between my daughter and I, that we determine is not near as bad as we maybe thought (or others believed), one of us will quote that line and both of us will totally fall out laughing!
And, speaking of laughing, though some may giggle or snicker at your closing lines to that post, I found them to be a beautiful tribute to you wife, as well as to your commitment to your life together and that, my friend, simply ROCKS! The best to both of you.

David Sullivan said...

Happy Anniversary Cuz!

Suldog said...

Thanks, Everybody! Back tomorrow (Tuesday) with a report on the anniversary trip.

Janet said...

I use the Mrs. Lincoln joke routinely.
I had to lie down over the eclair. Oh my.