I just returned from D.C. feeling like David Blaine returning from his 58-hour entombment in a block of ice: I'm cold, I lost some friends, and I gained an impressive case of PTSD. Here's the play-by-play without the Joe Buck spittle.
Sunday, January 18th
I performed fifteen minutes of stand-up at a fundraiser. My tearful goodbye to the Bush Golden Age of Comedy followed a belly dancer. In the past I've gone onstage after a singing dog, a dancing football team, and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark, but never a belly dancer. Clearly my career is on the rise!
Monday, January 19th
I attended the Huffington Post Pre-Inaugural Ball in the Newseum, which is an exceedingly clever combination of the words "news" and "museum." With wordplay like that, the night was already off to a magnificent start!! My wife and I froze our asses off in the line to get in, but we didn't realize that was but a brief suckle of the bone-chilling agony we would enjoy during the coming inauguration day.
Once inside, my wife quickly spotted and got her photo with the most important guests of the eve - The Jonas Brothers. It meant a lot to her because along with Hanson and Michael Jackson, it completed her collection of photographs with virginal young men.
My next goal was to eat no less than 38 chocolate-covered cheesecake balls on a stick. I fell two short because Jesse Jackson and Ashton Kutcher conspired against me to steal the last batch for themselves. Damn civil rights leaders and stars of bad sitcoms!! Damn them to hell!
We then made our way to the edge of the stage to watch Will.i.am, Sheryl Crow, and Sting. Though they were all amazing performers, their hatred of their respective Obama-specific songs was so thick you could use it as sealant. Sheryl Crow looked like if she sang "A change will do you good" one more time in the next twenty-five years she might break her guitar over the head of a congressman. Will.i.am looked like if he uttered the words "it's a new day" or "yes we can" again, he might start booting backup dancers in their faces. And Sting, well Sting sang "I'll be watching you," a song I figured he would now hate more than jokes about his name. It seems to me that "I'll be watching you" is a more appropriate song for the Bush Administration, you know, with their domestic wiretapping and all. Honestly though, all the performers were great and the evening was a success (except for Cheesecake-On-A-Stick Gate).
Tuesday, January 20th
This day had a buzz of excitement from the moment we stepped outside. I could feel it from my fingers to my toes! Ten seconds later my fingers and toes went numb and stayed that way for the following 40 hours. Once my friends and I made it onto the national mall, we met up with two million other friends to celebrate the inauguration of the first African American President! Unfortunately must of the celebration took place on top of the legs, ankles, and chests of the slower members of the group. On the outskirt of the amoeba-like mass of humanity, one could see countless sick, injured, maimed, or frozen Obama-enthusiasts (now minus the enthusiasm). At one point my wife turned to me and said, "This is worse than Darfur." She meant, "This is worse than the protest we attended against the genocide in Darfur." However, she wasn't far off with her actual wording, and at least Darfur is warm.
Although there were myriad police officers, it seemed their stated objective was, "Shoot crazy men who yell 'Jihad!'" because they didn't care that much where the crowd pushed, shoved, forced, and battled its way. The mantra of the day was, "Keep moving! If children or the elderly collapse, leave 'em where they lie!" My friends and I ended up with a superb view of the back of one million heads. We stood there, frozen in place, for the next three hours, everybody mashed together tighter than a gaggle of vacuum-packed hot dogs - frozen hot dogs, of course.
Next, I think Barack Obama said something.
Then we tried to leave the million-human-orgy. Of course, most of the exits to the mall were closed because obviously when two million tired, hungry people want to leave an enclosed area in negative temperatures, it's wise to tell them otherwise. We walked an extra two miles in order to escape the inauguration. In the vein of MLK, I found myself yelling, "Free at last! Free at last!"
Soon thereafter, just before our toes had finally thawed, my wife and I headed to one of the official inaugural balls - the Youth Ball. Although I'm no longer a youth, I am under the age limit of 38 (and it's the only ball I could get tickets to). In case we feared we would no longer be cold on this inauguration day, we waited in line outside the ball for an hour and a half in weather that made nipples not just hard but angry. My toes decided they were no longer being protected by the larger entity with which they communed and therefore excused themselves to go get drunk at a pub. Ironically, this iced-out glob of people were waiting in line on Florida Avenue.
After battling the cold for over an hour, we marched triumphantly into the ball only to be told we were not allowed inside the ball. That's right, although we could have all the dry penne pasta we could eat, we were not permitted inside the actual ballroom because it was already filled to capacity. Hundreds of us had paid exorbitant ticket prices to listen through a closed door as Kanye West performed on the other side. Next President Obama spoke, or so we were told. After every interesting person had left the building, the gods finally allowed us to enter the ballroom in order to get a close look at the spots where important people had once stood. Giraldo Rivera and Kid Rock were still there. So like I said, every interesting person had left the building.
Let's review. The tickets were $75 apiece. That means about half the attendees at the Youth Inaugural Ball waited in line for an hour in Arctic temperatures and paid $73.50 too much for penne pasta.
Some friends and I went to a nearby dive bar to get so trashed we would forget about the inaugural ball and focus instead on the historic event we had witnessed earlier that day. At that bar, I ran into my toes, which were now toasty warm and drunk, singing Russian folk songs. Luckily, they agreed to give me a second chance.