JetWetters: Washington D.C. or Bust

JetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or BustJetWetters: Washington D.C. or Bust

The Perfect Storm: A Trip to D.C. with My Children and a Grumpy Walrus

~~~~~~ by Sarah Lolley~~~~~~

Sometimes my logic amazes me. When my husband received the opportunity to attend a recent industry meeting in Washington, D.C., I insisted that we must all go…two toddlers, a baby, and our Confederate Jew grandpa. The idea seemed great months ago when we booked the trip, but leading up to it I was paralyzed with dread. We were traveling during the thick of election season into the epicenter of politicians. It would be a bipartisan adventure!

Vendor Garb

Because Patrick traveled ahead of us, I drove to D.C. with my dad and three tots, which means I really had four children. Every time we saw a Popeye’s Chicken sign he would whimper and ask to stop.

“Nope, the children are all asleep, there is no stopping,” I declared, enjoying my authority over my dad.

“The children have to eat!?”

“Not while they are asleep.”

“Well, I have to eat.” We had quite literally eaten lunch before leaving a half hour prior.

“Have some organic pretzels or an apple.” He turned his nose up at me as if I offered him raw kale.

My kids first McD’s Play Area Road Stop

He always claims that his Popeye’s obsession is for the children. They are too skinny and malnourished with organic, fresh, farm food. Apparently, to my dad, they don’t look American without fried chicken on their bones. I am always reminded why I don’t take my dad on road trips at the very moment that I take my dad on a road trip.

My father is anomaly. He is a Republican Louisianan Jew. In his retirement, he gets most his exercise pacing in front of Fox News.  Recently, his penguin waddle has slowed down to a snail’s pace, which means that he drags a block, or two, behind us when we are dodging tourists with our super-sized stroller. Of course, we stop and wait. I would often stand at the other end of the street counting off the seconds there were left at the cross walk. This is a nifty element to D.C., their cross walk signs click off the seconds before you will become road kill. My dad’s jowls stared down many an ambassador’s limo.

Walrus sighting at Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

You may think that I am a little mean to the old man, but there is no reason to pity my daddy – he is an admitted meanie. The last time he came to D.C. was for a Glenn Beck rally. This time he was going to be our guide. He hobbled down the streets lecturing the poor city of Washington D.C. about whether or not they could constitutionally vote. (Apparently in the ancient days of our country they didn’t give D.C. an electorate. Well times, they change.)

Patrick strapped Lazar to him at the ASA social

We stayed in the 14th Street corridor that has recently become a hip and happening locale for new restaurants and casual bars, none of which have a kids menu (go to Pearl Dive Oyster Palace). Then comes my dad, street walking into the Banana Republic sect with his cane. He often allows the children to grab hold of the smaller end of the cane which makes the parade resemble a dog on a leash – guess which end is faster.

My father may be the oldest person to have ever stayed at The Helix on Rhode Island Avenue and my children were definitely the youngest tenants at the time of our stay. Happy Hour started with a free spirits tasting at 3pm. The gaggles of giggling young women, who ended up being part of my husband’s meeting, loved to flirt with my babies as I struggled with my stroller. With a champagne glass in one hand they would bend over me in heels and coo at the infant strapped to my bosom. I prayed they didn’t smell me.

Staring down myself in the Helix’s hallway

At these times I wonder if my children will remember me as being pretty. I don’t feel it, weighted down as I am with a bag of diapers, snacks, wipes, bottles and coat of snot. However, I see them stare wide-eyed at the aura of lip gloss and detached delight that greet them in posh hotel elevators and I wonder what kind of impression is being made. Then the thought is gone and I guzzle a wine glass from the complimentary bar before my next adventure of diaper changing at the capitol.

Staying at The Helix was like boarding a psychedelic spaceship. The façade’s neon LED colors faded in and out, challenging my four-year old to keep up with guessing the colors. However, the hotel did not have a ramp, which made it hard with a double stroller, but the rooms were big and featured naked Barbie doll photos, which made my dad think that it might be a good place for people to have an inappropriate tryst.

The Jowls of Papa

We ended every exhausting day with the TV turned to Fox News. During the Vice Presidential debates I took to nursing and rocking the baby in the hallway I got so sick of the post-commentary. But I got back at dad by banishing him to his room with the toddlers.

In the end, I was proud of my husband because he enjoyed attending Studio Theatre’s production of The Invisible Man, a characterization of an African American’s experience during the birth of the civil rights movement. Having my father along as a baby-sitter was worth it for that evening.

My husband, the man that is my father

Looking back on the trip, I am thankful that my father is never boring. He strives to upset the most innocent of beliefs about mankind because, well, it’s good for us. Meanwhile, he has saved countless lives, spent a large part of his medical career at Charity Hospital in New Orleans, and always used his powers for good, despite his walrus-like qualities.

On this trip, like many other moments in my life, watching my husband and father rattle on about Obama-care and the economy I realized that I might have married my nemesis. Thank God, that they have closed all the Popeye’s in Pittsburgh.

Museum hopping with my baby

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