Given my absolute apathy toward all things political, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’ve never been to, nor had the desire to see, the White House. However, I knew it was something Andy would enjoy, and it looked close enough to our hotel, so I asked my Mom to work some familial magic with a cousin who has some connections to a Senator, and suddenly tickets for a White House Tour were ours. (My original request to Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was answered by a form letter thanking me for my comments, so I wasn’t getting them that way. Sometimes the world really does work based upon who you know, as opposed to following proper protocol that only results in an impersonal auto-response.)
The page of instructions regarding the visit was heavy with rules and regulations. No cameras permitted on the grounds, and no place to store them, so if you had one you couldn’t enter at all. All information on one’s photo identification had to match up exactly as given to the people doing the background screening beforehand. Obviously, no bombs, weapons, sharp objects, etc. allowed on the grounds. A small bit of fine print indicated one more thing, but I’ll save that for later, as I apparently didn’t really pay much attention to it.
The morning begins in a rainy way. We hop in a cab and arrive at the Visitor’s Entrance, where a small line is forming for the tour. We are, fortunately, half an hour early, which bodes well as someone (Me? My Mom? My cousin?) provided the incorrect birth-date for Andy, and it doesn’t match up with his ID. He is detained at the first security checkpoint, while I am hustled ahead to wait further along. Of course he doesn’t have his cel phone, so I have no way of knowing what exactly is going on, other than they screwed up his birthday.
Now, part of me can’t help but find this somewhat comically ironic, as some people would assume that if anyone were to be detained at the White House, it would be me, not my live-by-the-law-and-obey-all-the-rules-retired-police-officer husband, but such is the way the world works. After twenty minutes, his background check clears, and they must have realized he wasn’t a threat (fools).
I kind of had to pee when we arrived, but I figured I’d wait until we got in. Security people were everywhere and none too keen about entertaining an antsy guy who had to pee. After the delay with Andy, I really had to go. So when we entered the East Wing and I asked the first Secret Service guy where the nearest restroom was, my bladder recoiled in horror when he said there were none here. I read the instruction page again and there at the very end was the little sentence that there are no public restrooms at the White House. What? Are you telling me that the President doesn’t go to the bathroom? What about the First Lady and all those teas? Tea makes you pee… Alas, it was not to be. For such a nice home, the absence of a proper piss pot is inconceivable. I mean, if this truly is the people’s house, let the people pee.
Thankfully, the glory of a self-guided tour is that it can be as long, or as quick, as one wants it to be. I was just as enraptured by the place as Andy though, and that kind of excitement and interest can douse a burning bladder for a few moments. We strolled through each room, taking in every press conference position or state dinner photo op we could recall. It really is something impressive to see, on a physical and emotional level. Aside from the beauty of each room is the history to go along with it – our country’s history. One can’t avoid feeling at least a twinge of national pride when you see these places.
We went back out into the rain, where I snapped this shot with my cel phone, afraid to take any more for fear of being arrested. Then we found a bathroom and continued on our way. Wild relief.
A few more stops before lunch at the Old Ebbitt Grill – one of Washington’s oldest saloons (dating back to 1856) – where I had what may be the most delicious ramekin of crab artichoke dip I’ve ever experienced in my life. I ate the whole thing myself (after offering some to Andy, who declined). The scene was very old Washington – lots of rich wood, tufted velvet banquettes, and classically tiled bathrooms. Perfect for a rainy day. It was now time to head back for an afternoon siesta, and my first spa experience…Back to Blog