In which our fearless reporters compete to attend the most inaugural galas, completing ridiculous and dignity-defying feats along the way. Read the rules of the game.
Reporters Monica Hesse and Dan Zak face off in the Running of the (Inaugural) Balls
7:15 p.m. Saturday. DAN: In the locker room of the Post’s gym, I don my fauxedo and plan a shoot-the-moon strategy. I will hit the two outlying balls first: the Bluegrass Ball up in Woodley Park and then Texas’s Black Tie & Boots Ball down at National Harbor. No one has ever attempted such a ball-related feat. My photographer, Jonathan Newton, and I hop on the Red Line at Farragut North at 7:25.
7:35 p.m. MONICA: Intel tells me that Dan is starting in Northwest D.C. I’m beginning way down south for Black Tie & Boots, then backtracking up through the freezing District. I am calling my strategy the Ginger Rogers: Backward and in high heels. High heels, long johns and a HotHands hand-warmer stuffed down my bra. THAT’S HOW I ROLL.
8 p.m. DAN: And we’re off! At the media check-in desk inside the Bluegrass Ball, a former Romney staffer asks whether she can help me find anyone. WHY, YES SHE CAN. I ask to be taken to an elected official. Any elected official.
8:01 p.m. MONICA: There is a lot of giant boot paraphernalia at the Black Tie & Boots Ball. But no giant tie. Why? Also, bales of hay. Also, Miss Texas. Someone says Miss Texas is here. I shall find her. Tiara = exit cue (see rules).
8:02 p.m. DAN: “Dan, this is Congressman Brett Guthrie.” Bingo. We chat near a tray heaped with half-empty tumblers of bourbon as Kentuckians cascade down a carpeted staircase to the ballroom for a dinner of short ribs and soft grits. “I have Heaven Hill and Jim Beam in my district,” explains Rep. Guthrie (R). “I lost Maker’s Mark in redistricting.”
8:09 p.m. DAN: After a photo with Guthrie, I’m out the door and hoofing it back to the Red Line. I literally run onto a train bound for Silver Spring as the doors are closing. The Metro gods are with me.
8:15 p.m. MONICA: Must find Miss Texas. Must find Miss Texas. Everyone says she is nine feet tall and wearing a big dress and a crown. Why can’t I find her? Must find Miss Texas. Focus on nothing else.
My photographer, John McDonnell, spots a brigade of attractive people dressed like cowboys and cowgirls. Must find Miss Texas. One of the burly cowboy men — part of a dance troupe called the Wildcat Wranglers — says he can lift a cowgirl over his head like a barbell. (Must find Miss Texas.) He says he can lift me over his head like a barbell.
Forget Miss Texas. LIFT ME.
8:22 p.m. DAN: The charter-bus gods are not with me. I just miss a shuttle to Black Tie & Boots outside Union Station. I board the next one and wait.
8:23 p.m. MONICA: Must find Miss Texas. Texas is a land of beauty queens. They have not delivered one to me. I am surly.
But wait. Waaaait. My new friends, the Wranglers, offer to teach me a line dance. A group dance? Yes, please. Exit cue!
I learn to Tush Push. I Tush Push for my freedom.
8:33 p.m. DAN: Still waiting on this bus. After a whizbang start at Kentucky, we’re hemorrhaging time as we wait for all of Texas to board. Lots of crystal earrings and buzz cuts.