Tag Archives: Independence Day

I would’ve made a good Boy Scout.

5 Jul
Next time... these are the underwear in the toolkit.

Next time… these are the underwear in the toolkit.

Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. In DC the weather was uh-mazing. As in: 80 degrees, sunny and no humidity. Very uncharacteristic of our nation’s Capital – but I’m not judging.

To avoid the crowds (which – based on the line snaking around the Washington Monument at 7am on the Fifth of July – I can assure you were huge), I decided once again to get out of the city for Independence Day and spend it instead with Alan, on his balcony and in his pool. For all you people who ask why we don’t live together, might I present the benefits of a City Home and a Suburban Home? Boom! 

Fortunately, as I was leaving my house, I remembered what a cluster it was to vacate the city on my bike last year. Realizing that the same checkpoints were likely to be in place, I altered my route and aimed for the Lincoln Memorial checkpoint. Turns out, the entire Mall was fenced off again and my intuition was on point, placing me right at the checkpoint to leave DC.

This year, the cops were really friendly (might have been the awesome weather) and there weren’t many people trying to sift through the security line to the Mall, so it was smooth sailing. I was the only person in the bike lane, so I had four cops ready to expedite my inspection. All went well as they opened my backpack, asking if I had any, “Knives, guns or other weapons” in there. Um, no.

“How about pepper spray?” the young cop asked. Nope – though that was just luck. I often do keep pepper spray in my bag in case I’m out on foot after dark. I paused for a moment, wondering if they’d just confiscate it if they found it, or if I could be in for more serious punishment. I’m woefully ignorant about pepper spray laws.

I was zipping up my bag and ready to high-five everyone for being so efficient when the officer said, “Is that a tool kit under your seat?” I nodded. “I’ll need to check that too,” he informed me.

It should’ve been no biggie to open my tool kit and show him the spare tube and wrench set I keep in there. Except, as I quickly unzipped it, a pair of clean underwear tumbled out onto the dirt path. Um…

Backstory: A few weeks earlier, Alan and I had gone for a long ride that ended at his house. When I finish riding, I’m sweaty and want nothing more than a shower and clean underwear – so I’d tossed a pair in my toolkit. However, it was such a great day that we ended up changing into bathing suits and using his pool to cool off, rather than showers – hence, I’d forgotten about the extra panties.

If you’ve never faced the prospect of your underwear lying in the dirt while an audience of four cops look on, then you might not know how you would react. In my case, I said, “I don’t have any weapons, but I DO have extra underwear. Because you never know, right?”

The cop looked embarrassed and said, “Congratulations?” It came out as a question.

“Congratulations?” I asked. “For having spare underwear in my toolkit?”

“I don’t know,” he was flustered. “I don’t know what you say to someone who has underwear in their toolkit. Good luck, maybe?”

I decided to take that. I offered a nod and rode away, hearing the chuckles of his fellow officers, presumably ready to take the piss out of him for getting so flustered over a pair of underwear.

And THAT is why you should never ask to go through a lady’s things. Ever.

Red, white and blood?

8 Jul
"Do you think I need to go to the Emergency Room?"

“Do you think I need to go to the Emergency Room?”

I mentioned in my last post that our Fourth of July became a bit of an adventure when Alan came for me at the community pool, squeezing his finger as blood flowed down his hand.

(You’re WELCOME, fellow residents, who previously only wondered if children had peed in the pool.) 

He opened with, “I don’t think it’s anything major…” but the fact that he’d walked down to find me meant that he actually did think it could be major and wanted a second opinion – or a driver to take him to the ER.

I quickly gathered my items and followed him back to his place. We examined his finger under running water, and every time he stopped cutting off circulation to his finger, blood gushed out in time with his heartbeat.

Some people might be squeamish, but we’re both pragmatic. I hated to even ask the question. “Do you think you should go to the emergency room?”

Alan took a deep breath. I knew what he was thinking. We hate the emergency room and will go to great lengths to avoid it because it’s inefficient and generally requires a minimum of a six-hour time commitment. And on a heavy drinking holiday like the Fourth? It’d probably be overflowing with dumb drunk injuries and mean an overnight.

“I’m actually not sure,” Alan concluded.

So we talked it out. We should go to the ER if we couldn’t stop the bleeding. Or if it seemed infected. Otherwise, there was nothing to be gained, we reasoned. After all, he’d shaved his entire fingertip off, so it’s not like there were “edges” that could be stitched together. Short of grafting skin to the area, the doctors wouldn’t be able to do anything we couldn’t do at home.

Plus, we had two fat rib-eyes ready to throw on the grill. If there had been any doubt about our ER avoidance plan, this factor effectively killed it.

Later in the evening, as I tidied up the kitchen, I spotted a number of paper towels in the trashcan from the earlier drama. At the top of the pile was a cocktail napkin with Amtrak’s logo on it in blue, surrounded by red blood drops. “You should carry that on your next trip to New York and stumble off the train with it in your hand, commenting, ‘Hell of a ride…’ to anyone you see.”

Alan shook his head. “Actually,” I reconsidered, “It looks rather patriotic, what with the red, white and blue motif. You certainly know how to honor Independence Day!”

“Well,” Alan said, “As Jefferson said, ‘The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots.'”

Good point.

Just not sure Jefferson envisioned combat taking place with potato peelers.

We call this independence.

6 Jul

I live in our Nation’s Capital and I love it.

It’s a great city for so many reasons: It’s super walkable; there are hundreds of miles of bike paths around the area (56 miles in the District itself!); the architecture is pretty; each neighborhood has its own distinct personality; the residents are some of the best educated in the nation; the public transit system is clean and safe; there’s so much culture – museums, theaters, galleries – and most of it is free… I could go on. And on.

But one thing I do not like about living here: The tourists.

DC Tourists

See what I mean?

I know, I know. This city belongs to all Americans, so I can’t really get territorial.

But from April to September, DC is transformed into the urban equivalent of Walmart as loud people wearing Cheetoh-stained flag shirts and fanny packs crowd the sidewalks (four-across, no less!) with their mouths agape, making it hard for those of us who live here to get from Point A to Point B. I’m here to tell you that the stereotype of “Obnoxious American Tourists” isn’t reserved for how we behave in other countries.

So then, to continue the analogy: If DC is like Walmart for six months of the year, Independence Day is like Black Friday. People show up early. They push and shove to jockey into position. There are more people than real estate. And Neil Diamond is playing over the PA system.

Most locals either stay home and watch the fireworks from their roof decks or scoot out of the city all together, choosing to relax on a beach for a week while the inmates run the asylum back in DC.

Alternate Source: www.animalcapshunz.comThis year, since Independence Day fell on a Thursday and Alan had to work on Friday, we decided to stay in the area. The forecast was hot and humid, so rather than hanging in the District, I hopped on my bike Thursday morning to head to Alan’s place in Arlington so we could relax by the pool and grill up some steaks for dinner, far from the crowds.

We thought we were clever – hatching a plan that allowed Alan to avoid the District in his car on a notoriously crazy traffic day – but apparently we had overlooked a wee detail. Namely, the fact that it hasn’t even been three months since the Boston bombings.

Meaning: Homeland Security spared no effort in securing our Nation’s Capital, something I hadn’t realized until I was on my bike, trying without luck to cross Constitution Ave in front the White House.

As I came rolling down 15th Street, I saw a crowd ahead of me, blocking my path to Constitution Ave. I could tell they were watching a parade (as evidenced by the people dressed in old-timey gear, riding old-fashioned bicycles in circles while waving over the on-lookers’ heads), but this in itself didn’t deter me – I’ve accidentally participated in races, runs and parades before due to bad timing. (The most memorable was when I accidentally became the pace car for the Gay Pride Parade because I remembered to move my Jetta just as the cops where showing up to tow it.)

Image Source: http://www.jointaction.org.uk/media/Joint%20Action%20Media/News%20Pictures/X-Ray%20Bike%20Rider%20(colour)%20(smaller).JPGSo the crowd was thick, but I was going to try to wiggle through and cross – until I saw that the Mall had an eight-food chain link fence barring access to the other side of the street. Huh? (After Googling, I’ve learned the barricade actually ran 32,000 feet in length.)

I did a U-turn and asked a cop for advice about where I’d be able to cut across the Mall. He was friendly but useless. Apparently when they’d done the briefing for the event, he had only paid attention to his specific role – not the overall design of the parade route and city plan in general.

I thanked him for nothing, then rode back up 15th Street, where I asked a Secret Service agent the same question. As expected, he was more dialed in and offered good advice. I’d have to cut up to the Memorial Bridge and take that route out of the city. No problem.

Or at least – no problem until I got to the bridge and saw that it was blocked by a series of Metro Buses parked nose-to-tail, creating a rather effective barricade, with cops monitoring the only gap that remained. Turns out, the ENTIRE Mall – from the Lincoln Memorial/Memorial Bridge to the Capitol Building, was fenced in. The only way to get out of town was to pass through one of nine pedestrian checkpoints.

So I biked back half a mile, then stood in line with other bikers and walkers trying to get to (or across) The Mall. The police inspected my bag and wiped my bike down with the chemical/explosive detecting wand typically used at airports.

The security measures ended up adding 30 minutes and two miles to my commute out of town. A headache on a hot day, but it appears the efforts were effective since there were no major “events.”

Unless you count Alan fetching me from the pool later that afternoon, blood dripping off his hand at an alarming rate after he took the tip off his finger with a potato peeler. Guess next year we’ll have to put an eight-foot fence around his kitchen.