Saturday, July 07, 2007

Brushes with greatness

This morning we went down to our neighborhood diner for Saturday brunch, which is a weekly treat. (BTW, our neighborhood diner has a previous brush with greatness all its own; it is the very place where the pretend cops caught the attempted assassin on "The West Wing." We watched the filming from our lawn chairs with coolers, and applauded each take from across the street.)

At the next table was a neighbor who has been a docent at the National Air and Space Museum for over twenty years, who is current not only on the exhibits at the downtown museum, but also on the huge annex at Dulles Airport, the Udvar-Hazy Center. Now, to be a docent at NASM, you have to go through three months of all-day-Saturday training, spend every Wednesday night at refresher clinic, and vow to spend at least 80 hours a year conducting tours and educational groups around the museums. It's quite a commitment. And the odd thing about our neighbor is that he isn't retirement age, which most of the docents are. We'd just decided that he didn't have a life otherwise.

He and his lady friend were sitting at their table, not ordering, because their friends had not yet arrived. We ordered, and got our coffee, when their friends finally arrived. It was an elderly woman from the islands, I'd guess Turks and Caicos, and a young man walking slowly with a cane, and two shiny new prosthetic legs. She was a volunteer from Walter Reed, and he was a patient on one of his first journeys out. He ordered a western omelet and a toasted croissant. They discussed loudly the relative merits of the two museums, and which one was best depending upon what you wanted to see (The Enola Gay is at Dulles; the Glamourous Glennis is downtown), and the differences in what estrogen vs. testosterone wanted to see.

I was in the presence of greatness all around.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, Brian Lamb walked in.

If you're not a C-SPAN junkie like my very self, maybe you don't know that Brian Lamb is an interview god. Brian Lamb occupied my every Sunday night for years uncountable, interviewing historians, political scientists and social critics of all sorts on his weekly show Booknotes, which evolved eventually into C-SPAN BookTV channel.

The Captain said he'd never seen me so excited, and he was a little jealous.

I mean, Brian Lamb is to Washington politico-geeks as Paris Hilton is to, well, whoever likes Paris Hilton. He's the top.

I feel so insignificant today. Some ice cream ought to fix that.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Some days you're the bug, some days the windshield...

Tuesday morning at about 7 am, I was driving up to the hospital for pulmonary rehab. I was listening to Mick Jagger sing about Brown Sugar, and driving my Very Cool Car at a Very Cool rate of speed.

Just as I came up to the exit to go to the hospital, The Evil Blue Lights of the State Police began to flash behind me, and I knew I was got.

I pulled over to the side of the road, and immediately grabbed my cannula and turned on my concentrator, while grabbing my license and insurance card.

When the State Policeman walked up to my car, he asked if I knew why he stopped me. I told him that I wasn't sure, but I was certain that he could tell me. I told him that I was absolutely certain that I was supposed to be at the hospital at 7 am, weakly pointing at my clock. (It was absolutely true, too. I just didn't say that you don't get demerits for being late to the gym.) He said I was going 61 in a 45 zone. I told him that was possible.

I looked as pathetic as humanly possible, which, when I'm going to the gym at 7 am, isn't all that hard.

He went back to his car, then returned, and told me that instead of giving me a big expensive speeding ticket, he was only giving me a ticket for "failure to obey a traffic sign." One that said "Drive 45 mph".

Today I am The Windshield.

Let's hear it for cannulas and looking pathetic.