Monday, May 5, 2008

In Which I Unintentionally Eat My Foot, Shoe and All...

Yesterday, if you hadn't noticed, was GORGEOUS. Gee-oh-are-ee-gee-ee-oh-you-ess, gorgeous! It being the aforementioned gorgeous, I decided to go out for a bit and ended up hanging with the EcoFellow and Sister NoMo. We traipsed all over the west end of the National Mall taking pictures of Flat Stanley for EcoFellow's nephew who lives in Idaho.

Sidebar: I had no idea Flat Stanley was such a phenomenon. It was like we were traveling with a minor celebrity. At one point, a whole touristing family, seeing us with Flat Stanley, cried out, "Flat Stanley! Hey, did you see their Flat Stanley? Remember how we took our Flat Stanley to New York City?" Who knew?

As the day was so generously gorgeous--bright blue skies, warm temps, cool breezes, zilch humidity (what is this? Fall?!)--bajillions of people were out and about. People in kickball leagues, kite fliers, families with little ones, and that ever ubiquitous, migratory, seasonal creature: the tourist. You know the species I'm talking about right? Dopey-eyed, rubbernecking, money-spending tourists. Those ones.

Honestly overheard: Standing at the top of the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking east, which features a prominent view of the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Capitol. Following is an exact quote:

Tourist woman to member of her tourist party, presumably a family member: "Oh honey, look!" Everyone in her party cranes their head eastward as she points. "Be sure to get a picture of the White House."

Sidebar: I want to get a Nerf bat to carry with me when I'm down on/near the Mall. When tourists say stupid shit like this, I want to hit 'em in the head.

Attention tourists: Before you visit a city--any city--do your friggin' homework! And if you can't be considerate enough to do it for whatever city you're visiting, please, for the love of all that is historically holy, at least do it for this city, especially if you're a citizen of this country. It's embarrassing and you look stupid when you can't tell the difference between the White House and the U.S. Capitol.

Visual aid: In case you're still unclear on which is which, here are a few pictures of each, so you'll be able to tell going forward. (Click on images to enlarge.)

On the left: The White House. Where the President of the United States lives and works. Contrary to popular stupidity, err, belief, you cannot see it from the Lincoln Memorial. On the right: The U.S. Capitol. You can see it from the Lincoln Memorial.

A Guide to What You're Seeing When You Stand on the Steps of the Lincoln Memorial and Look East:
The Reflecting Pool, the National World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Castle, the U.S. Capitol, and the Library of Congress.
Click image to enlarge and read the Post-it Note-like-thingies.

Okay, site location lecture over. Moving on...


My true purpose for today's entry, and the meaning of my title, is this: after taking pictures of Flat Stanley on the Mall and at a number of the Stan Embassies (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, etc., for those tourists among you who not only failed U.S. history, but world geography, too), the EcoFellow, Sister NoMo, and I headed uphill to D.C.'s next-best-thing: Target!

Target would be the scene of the crime.

Scene: Three friends walking past the women's accessories on their way to the check out.

Sister NoMo: (teasing) Hey, Jay, do you want an ugly handbag for your birthday?

Jay: (sarcastically) Yeah, right. I need an ugly handbag like I need a hole in the head.

Jay (that's me) no sooner has the words out of her mouth than she looks up from her wallet where she's been extracting her credit card in preparation for payment and sees a young, male Target employee with a shaved head. On the side of his head, a clear bandage covering what appears to be a serious head wound, i.e. a hole in his head. The customer in front of Jay turns and glares at Jay, then shakes her head in disgust.

EcoFellow: I think we'll go stand over here.

EcoFellow and Sister NoMo exit toward stage left, separating themselves from Jay.

Did I mention it was a gorgeous day?

Photo copyright: D.C. Confidential/Janet M. Kincaid


Jess said...

The weather WAS gorgeous yesterday. We were in NC but on our way back into town around 6 p.m. we drove by the Mall and it was COVERED with people enjoying the weather. It looked GREAT.

Cele said...

Another reason you like me...I know the difference between the White House, the Capitol building, and the OEB. And I hate ugly handbags. Why do women need so many of them anyway? And why are they so friggin expensive? The uglier the more costly. It's like reverse psychology.

NG said...

KoH tells the story about some girl (probably one he was scamming on) who went downtown with him and a couple of friends one night shortly after he moved out here. They were standing on the Capitol lawn about 11:00 and she said poignantly, "Just think. Our President is asleep in there right now."

They schooled her on the difference between the Capitol and the White House but didn't have the heart to add that the President was out of the country at the time.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Jess: Yesterday was a-maz-ing! Hope you had a nice trip to NC.

Cele: I definitely you! And yeah, ugly handbags. I don't get it.

NG: That is too, too funny. I've met people like that who are all breathless with awe about stuff like that. But seriously, don't you just wanna smack 'em?

Wicked H said...

I seriously think we should have one of our Fast and Testimony gatherings on the mall with many of your visual aides in hand. If the tourists want to donate, we can tell them it is most certainly tax deductible. Hey they thought the domed bldg was the White House.

Also, if you are at all insecure about walking around with an actual hole in yur head, then stay home. Did you hand the glaring woman a Flat Stanley? I would have.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Cele: Oops. That was supposed to say "I definitely like you!" Ugh. But I'm sure you got that, right?

Wicked H: ROFL! I wish I could think that quickly. And how odd that we've both had the same idea. I was just thinking this afternoon that we should have a Fast & Testimony picnic and it should be "Things People Say As Tourists in My Town That Are Stupid and Make Me Wanna Hit 'Em." I think I like your idea better because it would actually involve getting together and providing a public service, which could serve several ward purposes:

1. Accomplish a physical meeting
2. Engage in a real live picnic with real live food
3. Provide us with a service opportunity


LG said...

Flat Stanley IS a phenomenon. When I worked for the Cincinnati Bengals, I had to take many a picture of Flat Stanley in the locker room with various players or in front of different player's lockers.

Tourists - or actually, just dumb people - are really annoying. Living in SLC here, you KNOW I overhear some wackass comments - especially near Temple Square. My favorite was yesterday, as I was riding the light rail downtown. The passenger next to me said under his breath, "Ah, the Mormon temple. Man, I need a smoke."

And now I'll end my hijacking of your comments.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

LG: Highjacking always welcome here!

Yeah, comments like the "I need a smoke/drink/name-your-not-approved-by-the-Mormons sin" and being in front of sites like the Temple are about as unoriginal as they come. Didn't you want to turn to that dude and say, "Yeah, you're so original. Like no one else has ever thought to say that before..."

When the Pope was in town a few weeks ago, I overheard some people talking about it. One of them--who I'm sure was being flip--said, "Did you know the Pope's a Catholic?" I laughed.

As for Flat Stanley, I just don't know what to make of him. But I do know this, I'm starting a new phenomenon in my photography. While I was at Target yesterday, I bought a Mr. Potato Head. He's about to start featuring prominently in my photos. I think I'll switch between him and my bobble head Darth Vadar! :-)

Anonymous said...

That was funny :)

Someday when you come to Denver, I will give you the reverse stupid tourist tour. I will point to buildings and say, "This building has historical significance."

Then we will go to places I really know something about like:

- Starbucks
- The Grocery Store
- The Molly Brown House

I will point off into the distance and say, "Those are the Rocky Mountains. If you want to go see them, you're on your own."

After that sneak preview, do you still want to come visit me someday?

- Phoebe

sylvia/ticklethepear said...

Flat Stanley is so old school. I had to take a photo of him in Mali (next to the Niger River) in 2003.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Phoebe: ROFL! After the preview of your tour, I will absolutely still visit you. As for the Rockies, they're on their own. Besides, I think seeing Starbucks, The Grocery Store, and Molly Brown's House sounds like a lot more fun than a lot of historical prattle.

Bee says I should just make stuff up when I'm showing people the sites in this town. She says they won't know any better and they'll be too lazy to look anything up to verify it. Unfortunately as I'm not as creative and quick on my feet in situations like that. She is, though, so I take her along as the funny one.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Sylvia: I didn't know Flat Stanley was so passe nowadays. Although, he still seems to have enough minor celebrity as to elicit shouts of surprise from other people. What amazed me were the parents who got all excited about seeing us with a Flat Stanley. The kids were indifferent.

Di said...

No one expects to look up and see an actual person with a hole in their head. That is LOL IMO PDQ XYZ.

Also, Flat Stanley? I've never even heard of it -- had to google it. Still don't get it. I'm a cultural Rip van Winkle.

Once when I was in DC, some foreign tourists were talking to me and my friend in front of the Capitol. They asked if that was where Congress convened. We both quickly said yes, then became confused and second guessed ourselves, and then were both stumped. If they hadn't asked, we totally woulda known. Sometimes dumb shit just blocks your brain. Or I should say, MY brain.

Handbags are awesome, do not tempt fate by mocking them. I do not necessarily include ugly Target handbags in this sweeping statement.

Are you really advocating that there must be homework done before people can go to new places? Perhaps the travel itself is the homework. ?

Adriana Velez said...

Wow, of all the times for a person with an actual hole in his head to walk by! I'm going to stop saying "it's raining cats and dogs."

I like your nerf ball idea. Do your homework, indeed! Especially if it's your own f***ing capital.

By the way, I happen to love my spring green handback from Target. But I conceed there are piles and piles of ugly handbags there any just about everywhere.

ME said...

I'd never heard of Flat Stanley, either.

Mike's nieces had us do something similar with a stuffed animal (Gill the fish). They mailed Gill to us and we took pictures of him at South Padre Island and by the Mexican border. Mike was all into it and his two college-age kids thought it was boring and wanted to grill Gill.

The hole in the head experience makes me think of that SNL skit Massive Head Wound Harry--in a grossed out but can't help but giggle way.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Di: I'll join you in your Winkleness. I'm in a cultural black hole, too. I wouldn't have known about Flat Stanley had it not been for EcoFellow's nephew.

As for advocating homework before visiting a place, yes, I do. I'm not suggesting you have to know everything there is to know about a place you're visiting. That would take a lot of fun and surprise out of it. But at least know the important highlights of the place you're visiting.

For example, when people come to D.C., they should know what the Capitol and the White House look like and where they are, who Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson are, the fact that Washington is a federal city and does not have voting rights in Congress, and who the first president was to reside in the White House. Just little stuff like that. I'm not expecting people to know that FDR was the first and only president to appoint a full Supreme Court during his 12 years in office, or that Gen. Sickles murdered the son of Francis Scott Key in the park across from the White House because Key was diddling Sickles' wife, or that there's a statue of Einstein at the National Academy of Sciences near the Lincoln Memorial, or that Walter Reed Army Hospital has a museum, or that the Ellipse is the mileage starting point in the U.S. for our interstate system. (Well, okay, on that last one it would be cool if they knew that, but you know...)

So, yeah, I think people should do a little homework first, especially if you're visiting your state's or nation's capital.

Adriana: I feel like stuff like "hole in the head" only ever happens to me. Wish you'd been there to enjoy the fun! As for the handbags at Target, they were pretty awful for Target. Normally they have great stuff, though. I once bought a lovely purple necklace there. I wore it to a reception that included a representative from Target. She complimented me on my necklace and asked where I got it. I said, "Target" and she said, "Oh wow! We have really wonderful stuff, don't we?" LOL!

ME: Seriously, am I not just the biggest walking faux pas? What are the chances?!

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

P.S. Di: Oh hell, never mind. I've got to learn to stopp expecting anything of anyone and work on only expecting it of myself. That said, I'll now be on the Mall with a Nerf bat which I will use to hit myself in the head when people say stupid shit about obvious stuff.

lacochran said...

So where are the snaps of Flat Stanley!? And wasn't that him with Lindsay Lohan the other night?

That hole in the head thing was too funny! :)

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Lacochran: The Flat Stanley pictures were taken with the EcoFellow's camera, ergo he has all the pictures. Although, I do have one of him at the Einstein monument holding Flat Stanley. I'll see if he'll let me post it. Otherwise, EcoFellow has tons of them.

As for the hole in the head, ugh. :-)

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

P.P.S. Di: I just re-read my comment. I hope you know when I said "you" I meant the royal version and not you specifically. Just wanted to clarify that!

Anonymous said...

Bring Agnes when you come to Denver. She's cracking me up already. I make stuff up too! And it's funny! To me!!!

I have a hole-in-the-head story. My husband was once talking to some people we met at a party about how bad the food at Chuck0rama in SLC was.

"We like to call it 'Up-Chuck-orama,'" he said.

Turned out the person he was talking to was the daughter of the new manager of Chuckarama. He tried to ease himself out by saying he's noticed a distinct upturn in food quality lately. But everyone knew it was a lie. We both retreated under deadly silence (excluding a muffled snicker from someone in the group).

- Phoebe

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Phoebe: I think I like Mr. Phoebe. A lot. This is totally something I would do and am constantly doing. The bugger is, right before it comes out of my mouth, I have this fleeting second where I think "Don't say that" and I do anyway. I know instantaneously I should have kept my mouth shut.

If I ever come to Denver, I'll definitely bring Agnes/Bee with me. She'll have you rolling on the floor with her subtle, wry wit.

Lucy said...

Too funny. Amen...sista. Tourists crack me up. Course I've never been one or anything like that you know.

Anonymous said...

Oh man, I have those "Don't say that" moments all the time! Why don't I listen to myself? I even have "Don't send that email" moments. You'd think I would have plenty of time to talk myself out of hitting the "send" button, but no -- I must be true to my inane, fleeting thoughts.

BTW, one of my old favorite blogs, speaking of handbags, is called "A Somewhat Old, But Capacious Handbag. It's at capacioushandbag on blogspot, if you want to see. I don't think she'd mind, but then I don't know her, and she doesn't know me. For some reason, I saw that blog title and knew I would love it.

Having let the words, "capacious handbag" roll off my lips enough times to make me want one, I've ordered a Mary Poppins type of carpet bag that I now lug around like a dead cat. Nobody makes fun of my handbag.



J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Lucy: Yeah! What I said? Gosh, I'm a crank lately. Or, no, what was it my friend Di called me a week or so ago? A curmudgeons? Yeah, that's it. I'm a curmudgeon. I wonder if I can get away with saying that repeatedly like a four year old on a sugar high? It'd probably get annoying real fast, though, wouldn't it?

Pheebs: OMG, my friend. You crack me up! You have just completely described my whole life. I'm not kidding when I say I'm a freakin' walking social faux pas and I don't even have to wait for all the stars to align and be in perfect synchronicity for me to consume my tarsals and metatarsals.

And you've totally sold me on the Capacious Handbag blog. Today's entry about an owl was all it took to suck me in. I've added it to my blogroll! As for your capacious handbag a la Mary Poppins, I would never make fun of it. Especially as I've been duly warned... ;-)

Liz said...

HEE! Thanks for the laugh... all fifty of them.

I can see how distinguishing many of our famous landmarks could get confusing for tourists... so many of them are white! Maybe we should do a color-code system... purple for the capitol building, green for the Lincoln memorial... etc.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Liz: Or maybe we could sell our landmarks to advertisers who could put their logo and the name of the monument, memorial, or significant site on a banner. (I think I blogged about that once... Oh, yeah. Here it is.)

Phoenix Touch said...

OMG! Hilarious! I hope your shoes were clean... however, after all that tourist-type traipsing you described, I cannot imagine they were.

Okay... so I feel behind the times... who/what the hell is Flat Stanley???!


ps... I am feeling an actual REAL LIVE F&T meeting in the making! I am so wanting to be there! Sooooooooooo... I am holding space for financial abundance so that I can easefully attend!!! YAY! I will also take donations toward my adventure... hey... would it be bad to skim the tithing envelopes??? LOL (I am SO going to hell!)

Phoenix Touch said...

damn... forgot to subscribe last time. doing it now!!! Don't want to miss anything. ESPECIALLY since I am already TWENTY-SEVEN friggin' comments behind the times!!! LOL

Dusty Lens said...

LOL THis cracked me up. I can only picture the touristy scene. What I would have done is mess with them...simply for my own amusement. Which I usually do in public at the expense of my wife; she's a good sport. I would have said, "why yes, get yout pics of the white house now, as that dome will be taken off soon for repairs".

I thinkFlat Stanley would love Minneapolis Flat Venice...if only I can remember where it is.

Remember this at Target, an unattended shopping cart is fair game. I usually load up the unattended cart with nonesense goods form the shelf I find it near.

A co-worker of mine does the same, but stuffs skimpy lingerie under what the shopper needs. Then waits and watches for their embarassment. If we're caught, we simply say , "pardon me, I thought this was my wife's cart".

Works great at grocery stores too. Lesson learned, never take a bored husband shopping. ;)

shinshige said...

Holy crap. The Target story cracked me up - in a wholey non-offensive way, mind you. ;)

When I was in D.C. last, not only did I know the difference in what building was what, but I was asked by your tourist friends where they were. "Hmmm," I said, "I'm from Salt Lake, but I can tell you what you want, because prior to coming here, I did in fact, do my homework." OK - that is an exaggeration, but you get the idea.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Abgue: Flat Stanley is a paper doll cut out that first graders everywhere cut out and color. Then they take it EVERYWHERE with them and take pictures of Flat Stanley wherever they are. In this case, Flat Stanley went to almost all the Stan Embassies, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, the U.S. Capitol, and the Einstein Memorial. Flat Stanley can go anywhere you want him to go. In the case of our minor celeb, Flat Stanley will go back to Idaho to EcoFellow's nephew along with all the pictures and said nephew will show-and-tell I guess. Not having kids myself, the whole Flat Stanley thing is a completely new phenomenon to me.

And yes, I think a F&T Picnic on the Mall is in order. Save your pennies!

Rob: Welcome to my other world! Love your Target shopping cart stories. I have a friend who does a similar thing to my Netflix queue. Leaves totally random movies like "SpongeBob SquarePants goes to Flat Venice". I never know they're there until they percolate to the top of my queue and arrive in the mail. Then I'm all, WTF?!

Shinshige: Welcome to the COT! Thank God, somebody who does their homework. I love you! (Okay, I know we've only just met, but I notice from you're blog roll you're in good company, so no worries.) I'll bet the folks you, erm, hm, chastized (??) were either really taken aback and stunned that you would call them on their lack of prep or were too stupid to realize you'd just called them out! Lovely.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

P.S. I should add, I just bought a miniature Mr. Potato Head who is about to start figuring prominently in some of my photography!

Sister Mary Lisa said...

OMG. I laughed so hard at the handbag comment and the guy walking by at just that moment. Oy. The person in front of you in line busted my shit up. Thanks for the laugh!