Waiting for Lanagan…

…except in this play, I know he shows up.

I’m really excited that my dad chose to spend part of his “summer vacation” with me, and I’m hoping it happens with my mom and dad more often now that they’re both retired and both love DC as much as I do.

I will never forget our first trip here together, when I was eight. I think I’ve said this before, but the trip started off with a bang because my mom gave me a copy of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby, Age 8 for the plane, and when we landed, I learned that DC was a walking city. I don’t think I’d ever walked more in my life up to that point, and one experience I will never forget is wearing a peppermint dress, white pantyhose, and kid-sized white Mary Janes and how much it hurt walking from the Metro to the White House. For the uninitiated, Mary Janes are chunky heels made of leather and hatred.

My favorite, as I’m sure it is for all kids, was the Air and Space museum. Living in Houston, you grow up imbued with the idea that everyone can become an astronaut. As you can probably tell, I did not. I didn’t, however, think that I wouldn’t. Not at that age, anyway.

My sister and I both love space. For the longest time, she wore a James Avery space shuttle charm around her neck, and I was not surprised that when her car arrived in Maryland for me to drive, there was a NASA sticker in the back window. We both have been to Johnson Space Center many times, and I have two favorite experiences of it. The first is that when I was in 7th grade, I went to a math and science magnet school (even though I’m good at neither… it’s a long story) and we did a flight simulation. The second is that Kathleen’s father was the assistant CFO at JSC, and he took us on a tour of the place that not many people get to see… although my sister has also gotten the full treatment having worked in the Mayor’s office.

(As an aside, one of Ralph’s (former father-in-law) favorite jokes was that he started at JSC as a junior in college and retired at 65 and I-45 was under construction the entire time… not sure that’s a joke, really.)

So, walking through the Air and Space museum is amazing no matter how many times I go, although I haven’t been at all since I’ve been here this time around. I’ve branched out. Now my favorites are the National Portrait Gallery and the Zoo, when it’s not too hot. Although what’s really funny about the Zoo is that the entire time Kathleen and I lived here, the panda enclosure was closed. Then, when I got here this time, it was closed again, so I still haven’t seen the pandas as an adult, even though I believe it is open now. One of my favorite kid memories, though, is seeing Ling Ling and Sing Sing… at least, I think that was their names. It’s been 30 years now and I am too lazy to look it up. The new panda is named Shu-Mai or something like that (kidding- the panda is not a shrimp dumpling).

The animals I can never get over are the giraffes. I don’t know why, but they fascinate me. Maybe it’s because I’m short, so they seem even more majestic. Who knows? Anyway, I could watch them for hours if given the time… just not when it’s over 90 degrees outside. Neither of us want to be outside in that heat. That’s the thing about the Zoo. If you go in the dead of summer, most of the animals aren’t stupid. They’re either hiding in the shade or in the A/C. The elephant enclosure can be walked through on the A/C side, but my aversion to bad smells keeps me from walking through it, because I am deathly afraid of throwing up in public… a very real possibility when there is dung involved.

Because of the air conditioning, I love the reptile house. I am not a big snake fan, but air conditioning and I are tight. Although if I had to pick a favorite, I like the albino ones. There’s something about their pure, pearl white that speaks to me… and reptile skin is all beautiful, even through my fear. I love the bright colors, even the deep browns and blacks of the pythons.

Speaking of which, I read an article about a woman who slept every night with her python and took him to the vet when he stopped eating and they told her “that’s because he’s preparing to eat you.” People are way weirder than animals at the Zoo. Write it down.

Switching topics entirely, the Facebook “Memories” section made me laugh today at one of my own jokes from last year. “It’s summer in Maryland, which makes me feel like a teenager… in that my face is broken out and I read magazines a lot.” I’m funny when I want to be.

And on that note, I am going to drink coffee and continue waiting for my dad. It’s a good day to be a Lanagan.

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