Wednesday, February 25, 2004

DAS CAPITAL, CONTINUED. I had a little extra time in D.C., so I went down to the Mall, mainly to see if the Constitution was still there. It is. But you can't go up the majestic front steps of the National Archives anymore; you have to skulk in by a ground-level side door. Sigh. On the plus side, I was able to query a knowledgeable guard about a few things. He was in many respects your typical Fed guard, working-class and no-nonsense, but very tall and supple, and he gestured with his whole arm toward the objects being described. He asked leading questions ("And at that time, George Washington was president of...?" "And what do you notice about Dickinson? Seven men in from the left") -- or should I say leaning questions, because he tilted over you when he asked them. If he didn't know an answer, he said, "Possibly, it might have been," and if you brought up an old wives' tale about the documents or the facility he took quiet but obvious pleasure in debunking it. I think as a kid he may have wanted to be either a dancer or a teacher, but always had too much sense to put his mama's son on a path to starvation.

He's right up there with the pudgy, deep-voiced, twinkle-eyed fellow with the cane at Westminster Abbey whom I observed patiently informing a mispronouncing tourist, "This is not the Stone of Scahn. This is the Stone of Scoon. Scahn is what you have with jam and butter for tea."

No comments:

Post a Comment