On Day 3 I only had a few hours by myself before meeting Jon for lunch. I spent my Becky time by going for a run in the morning. I even had a course planned out- I would run to the National Cathedral, since Jon and I had gone there the previous day to get some smooshed pennies with gargoyles on them. Unfortunately, when we arrived there the gift shop was closed. We took note that the gift shop’s hours were 9:30am to 5:30pm. I planned my run so that I would arrive at the cathedral at 9:35, early enough that it wouldn’t be so hot out and also leaving five minutes for the store to be open and ready to go when I arrived.
I arrived exactly on time but the idea that it wouldn’t be so hot at 9:35am was stupidly wrong. I had that slimy sweaty feeling and my face was bright red. I had also completed the run with 8 quarters and 4 pennies in my pocket (there were 4 penny designs and I wanted them all) and they jangled and slapped against my leg the whole way.
The gift shop didn’t seem open, though (what kind of church has a gift shop, anyway? With a penny machine?). On a total whim I opened the gate leading to the gift shop, which led down the stairs to a heavy, wood-and-iron church door. That lead to another door just like that and I opened that one, too. There was no one in the gift shop except a stern-looking, thin woman with glasses, who was putting an armful of mugs on a shelf. I paused at the scene, probably still dripping with sweat, and she said “We’re not open yet!” It was 9:37, and according to that sign upstairs, they should have opened seven minutes ago. I said nothing and she quickly corrected herself- “Well, technically we’re open, but that door should have been locked!”
Um…if they’re “technically open”, did that mean I could get my pennies? She seemed pretty upset with me and I felt a little embarrassed. The penny machine was within arm’s reach of me. I hoped that my shortness of breath and beading sweat would be interpreted by her to mean I had sprinted here in a dire smooshed penny emergency.
“Can I just get some pennies from that machine? It’ll only take a few minutes…”
She frowned and sort of grunted so I took that as a yes. While I was cranking out my four pennies, a younger woman came into the gift shop. The first woman snapped at her “That door wasn’t locked! You need to lock that up as soon as she leaves!”
Yikes. When I was done it was around 9:42. They locked the door behind me, so I don’t know if that gift shop is ever actually open. It only opens technically if you bang down the doors.
I ran back to the hotel with fewer coins jangling in my pocket, took a shower, changed, then went to the zoo. You don’t need to see pictures from the zoo, right? It looked like a zoo. In the tradition of all zoo visits, it was oppressively hot and crammed with kids. I really enjoyed the orangutans, though. The pandas weren’t there anymore, but I wouldn’t have waited in a line to see them anyway. Pandas fail at life.
After the zoo it was lunch with Jon, then a stop at Ford’s Theatre to get my tickets for the show that night. The same pudgy woman with the extremely hairy arms and the yellow (not blond, oddly yellow) hair with the tight curls was working the ticket booth. The two guys in front of me were arguing with her. They wanted to just go into the theatre and look around, but Yellow Lady said they would have to buy tickets and see the one-act play about Lincoln’s assassination before they could go into the theater. They were having the exact same argument with the lady that I’d had the day before. That poor woman must have to explain 95 times a day that no, you can’t just go into the theatre and look around, you have to see the play first. And the boring museum. When I bought my ticket for the evening’s show, I was all smiles and trying to be extra nice to her because I felt bad about arguing with her the day before. She cheerfully printed my ticket and said that doors open at 7:00, show’s at 7:30 and if I show up early, I could wait downstairs in the boring museum that I spent 45 minutes in yesterday. Oh dear.
Then Jon and I went together to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Jon was a happy Boy:
My favorite part was the Space Monkey, not to be confused with Ham the Space Chimp:
I also learned that in addition to that rhesus monkey, they also sent up a squirrel monkey. The rhesus monkey fell ill a few months after his return but not seemingly from something space-related. The squirrel monkey lived a good long life after his retirement from space travel- about 27 years.
After the Air and Space Museum, we went on a walk to visit all the familiar monuments. I should have figured out from my morning run and from the zoo that this would be a searingly hot death march. Why is it *always* 700 degrees out with 98% humidity every time one goes to see monuments in Washington DC? Maybe we need to make more January visits. We had to take sit-breaks and bomb-pop breaks and slush-breaks frequently, so it was still a good time. Of course we paid Mr. Lincoln a visit, but we also visited a friend we hadn’t seen before-
God damn these people. They hung around Professor Einstein for ages and ages taking pictures and we sat there waiting and waiting for our turn. I was bored while I waited so I started taking pictures of them. FINALLY they left.
Hooray! The Professor likes me better, anyway. He told me so. Jon’s camera has much better pictures of him, though. Two nice ladies, who also seemed to be waiting ages for a turn on Einstein’s lap, offered to take pictures of the two of us together with Jon’s camera. We did the same for them.
After that we went back to the hotel all hot, sweaty and tired but not sunburnt. We’re really good at reapplying sunblock. I was still tired and cranky and therefore disgusted with the painted panda outside our hotel. Pandas fail at life. It’s time for pandas to go extinct, the experts say.
Jon and I had things to do that evening, so we showered and cleaned ourselves up. Jon had conference stuff, and I had a show to attend at Ford’s Theatre!
I had the best seat in the house- there was a pole next to me on the right and the aisle on my left, so my seat was isolated from everybody else’s. The Russian seating lady helped me find it and when she saw how it stuck out all on its own, she said “You’re all by yourself!” in a mournful tone. But it was a great seat and I wanted to be all by myself. There was no better seat in entire theatre besides the box seats reserved for the Lincolns, but they wouldn’t let me sit there. The program said that if I liked my seat, I could have my name engraved on it for $10,000. I was tempted a little.
The show was so good I was trembling during the prologue. I knew that prologue word for word and I knew what was coming and then-
The chorus girls flew out on a revolving stage wearing 50s style spaceman suits! I thought I was going to weep. It was already the best musical I’d ever seen. I felt a little disloyal because I had seen Little Shop of Horrors once before, this past January. It was at MIT and naturally it was far more low-budget than the performance I was now seeing. Ford’s giant carnivorous plant was constructed by a professional puppet company and looked almost identical to the one in the movie. MIT’s Audrey II was constructed with bedsheets, acrylic paint, papier mache and cardboard. It looked like this:
But I liked MIT’s Audrey II better. It had a lot more spirit. The characters who were eaten by Audrey II had to kind of crawl carefully into Audrey II’s mouth, and Audrey II’s mouth movements never quite matched what he was saying.
The chorus girls at Ford’s were much, much better than MIT’s, though. And a soaring performance of Little Shop of Horrors really is dependent on a soaring set of chorus girls. Chorus girls wearing green 50s style spaceman suits.
The man who played the voice of Audrey II was also extremely impressive. He was huge! And he sat in a thronelike chair above the stage, visible to the audience. He looked like Mr. T and he was wearing silver shirt that, from my distance, looked like it could have been chain mail. Whenever he demanded to be fed in that commanding voice, it suddenly seemed reasonable to chop up humans and toss them into the plant. He was emoting when he sang lines like “I swear on all my spores/When he’s gone the world will be yours…” He had a vibrato on the word “spores”. In the beginning when Seymour was describing how he acquired the seedling Audrey II, Mr. T stood motionless above the stage, holding a small flytrap that a spotlight shone upon. He looked like the All-Powerful Supreme Lord of Horticulture.
I was enjoying myself so roundly that I had to restrain myself from bouncing along in my chair to every single song, and compromised by rocking very slightly side to side in my chair and mouthing the words. I don’t think the pole sitting next to me noticed.
I could also see Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln’s seats, reserved for all eternity, up on the right. At various points during the show I imagined the ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln, silently watching the show. I wondered what Mr. Lincoln would have thought of it. I know that in their time the Lincolns loved the theatre and during Lincoln’s presidency, going to the theatre was one of the few things that Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln did together as a couple once Lincoln was elected president. It makes me sad to think that their marriage became extremely strained during Lincoln’s presidency, and Lincoln’s depression seemed to be at its worst during the end of the war and the few days in his life following the end of the war. It’s been said that during that night they went to Ford’s, Lincoln was in an unusually good mood and the two of them were having a very pleasant night without arguing or fighting. Kind of like how it’s said that people who are on the verge of suicide suddenly become unusually cheerful once they have definitely decided to go through with it. Like he just knew somehow.
I watched the ghosts of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln watching the show from their seats above me. I pretended that they had a really great time and were baffled yet amused at the musical, which was nothing like Our American Cousin.
I wasn’t the only one who was seeing the ghost of Mr. Lincoln watching the show.
At the end of the show Audrey II eats Audrey and Seymour and the chorus girls take clippings of the vines to raise more Audrey II’s, implying that the small plants continue to grow and multiply and take over the world. During the finale, the chorus girls each take a small plant and sing about world destruction and warn the audience not to feed the plants or we’ll all die. When the chorus girls sang, one of the three faced the empty box seats and quite deliberately offered up her small venus flytrap to the ghosts in those seats. I felt honored to have seen such a show with Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln that night.