Yesterday, my brother Tona and I decided to take a tour of the Capitol. I wore black tights, a crisp pencil skirt, tasteful cardigan, and a hot pink trench coat. Tona asked me why I was so dressed up.
"Here's the plan," I said. "I'll catch Hillary Clinton's eye with the bright coat and then whip it off to reveal my professional garb underneath. Then she'll ask me to be her personal assistant." I told Tona he should dress nice too, just in case.
He laughed at me as he slipped on his sneakers. "Yeah, I'm sure that people on Capitol Hill tours get job offers all the time."
"You never know," I said, and I might have added "jackass." We left.
While we waited in line at the Capitol, Tona read a list of the prohibited items out loud, since I tend to carry a vast, strange, and sometimes dangerous assortment of things in my bag.
"No fireworks are allowed in the Capitol building."
"No food or drink."
"No liquids or gels."
"Ummm..." I reached into my bag and pulled out the loot from a recent visit to the Kiehls store: two heaping handfuls of sample-size tubes and packets and tubs of moisturizer, hair product, and body oils.
Tona put his head in his hands and sighed. "Why are you carrying around twelve pounds of gel?"
"Well, you have to throw it away."
"Hell no!" I cried. "Do you have any idea how much these free samples are worth??" I carefully rearranged the contents of my bag, placing the dangerous facial creams at the bottom and covering them with a protective layer of tampons, gum wrappers, and stale Craisins. Fifteen minutes later, we went through security. Success.
The tour itself was alright. The building is beautiful, of course, and our tour guide had no shortage of bad jokes and puns--"Capitol idea, sir!" But since this was the day McCain and Obama had heroically returned to the hill, and the government was in a mad scramble to save our country from economic collapse, and, you know, impending doom, we were eager to get passes to see the House and Senate in action. To get these passes, you have to go to the office of your state representative and ask nicely.
We headed toward the office of the honorable David Wu, and as soon as we entered the House office building we realized--this is where the action is. Important-looking people were running around, freaking out; I saw a young woman about my age, wearing a suit, clutching a briefcase, crying. Tona and I hid on the stairs to eavesdrop on a couple representatives throwin' down some impromptu bailout plan debate. (Choice quote: "Well, maybe AIG shouldn't have been such a DUMBASS.")
After getting lost in the dark maze of hallways upstairs, we were rescued by a chivalrous young intern (excellent choice, Rep. Buck McKeon!) and finally passed through the doors of David Wu's office.
"Hi," I chirped, trying to be louder than my pink coat, "we're from Oregon!" The receptionist was exceedingly friendly, showering us with house and senate passes, business cards, stickers, and tales of her former life in Oregon. She joined us in making fun of the guy from California working the other desk (hey, we had to), and we walked out beaming with state pride.
Tona stopped in the hallway a few steps from the door. "Should I ask them how to apply for an internship?" he asked, gesturing back toward our new friends. I told him, yeah, for sure, and sat down in a random but comfortable leather couch placed in the middle of the hallway while he popped back inside to get his information.
Five minutes passed.
Finally, Tona came back out. He was laughing and shaking his head.
"What the hell were you doing in there?" I asked.
"They just interviewed me for an internship," he said. "Damnit! Why did I wear these shitty jeans??"
For the rest of the day we went back and forth between the House and the Senate, hoping to see some hot political action. Mostly, we stared at completely empty chambers save for one elderly congressman droning about how hard it was for his friend to buy a boat. There were a couple good speeches that actually related to the UNPRECEDENTED ECONOMIC CRISIS, but I guess the real dramz took place behind closed doors, hidden away from us meddlesome citizens.
Overall, I'd still call the day a smashing success. Sure, Tona's refusal to put on a damn pair of slacks may have cost him his dream job, and we spent approximately three hours going back and forth through increasingly grumpy security checkpoints in order to be spectators to...nothing, but our lurking around allowed us to see tons of famous (or...not) politicians. Here's part of the running list we kept in my notebook, along with some notes and observations:
- John Conyers--waved at us, causing me to shriek, "john conyers just waved at us!"
- Ron Paul--wiping spittle from his lip. Hmm...
- John Murtha--Santa?
- Henry Waxman--surprisingly short.
- Harry Reid--seemed a little too relaxed, all things considered.
- Barney Frank--sassy.
- Charlie Rangel--could use a blowout.
- John Tester--wearing a denim button-down (inspired by Rumi?)
- Chris Dodd--impressively bouncy and voluminous hair (must ask what conditioner he uses!)
- Rahm Emanuel--HOTTIE (my brother thought so too.)