Then, reprieve: Post colleague Cara Kelly spots me and connects me to a representative of the North Carolina State Society, who escorts me to Sen. Kay Hagan (D). “Senator, how is a North Carolina party different from any other state’s party?”
“It’s a wonderfully diverse crowd,” she says, “and everybody gets along.” This is the most boring quotation ever documented in journalism, but I don’t have time to prod for genius. Two more points, totaling seven.
10:08 p.m. MONICA: I can’t get out of Iowa. I’ve already got my exit cue, but people are too friendly. First, someone wants to introduce me to their friend, who is good friends with the president of China. Or maybe the ambassador to China. Then someone wants to make sure I saw that the Rice Krispie treats are stars ‘n’ stripes-themed. Themed food? It’s another exit cue!
10:10 p.m. MONICA: Curse you, people of Iowa, and your excessive hospitality. They are going to nice me into losing this competition.
Now someone is asking whether I tried the Twinkies. Now they have started playing “The Wobble.” A group dance? Really, Iowa? My third exit cue?
10:14 p.m. DAN: Down into the Navy Yard Metro station, where a Green Line train to Greenbelt is four minutes away. TAKE ME, GREEN LINE, TAKE ME.
10:20 p.m. MONICA: Having returned the Zipcar I rented for the first portion of the night, I move on to my next planned form of transportation: The bicycle I stashed outside the Iowa Ball earlier this afternoon. I shall ride it through Washington in my floor-length ball gown.
It’s about to get real.
DAN: I am lost in the labyrinthine hellscape that is L’Enfant Plaza, looking for the International Ball. “Do Not Enter” signs are at every turn. Am I even on a street?
10:30 p.m. MONICA: The Illinois ball is 90 million miles long and there are 4 million different rooms and I am lost and I am never getting out of here and I think that if we looked hard enough we would find Jimmy Hoffa’s body because this ball is that big. The cover band tells me that they have a Stevie Wonder medley planned. But not for awhile. Dan just tweeted that he has seven points so far. We are exactly tied.
10:36 p.m. DAN: Finally, after getting trapped in a corral of inaugural barricades, I find the L’Enfant Plaza Hotel. With so much time lost in North Carolina, I go straight to a DJ and request “The Wobble.” I position myself just outside the dance floor so I can listen for a musical exit cue and watch the red carpet for VIPs. Everyone’s taking photos with cartoonish cutouts of Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr. Gin and tonics are $9.
10:47 p.m. DAN: Rising panic, again. I decide to visit the other dance floor and put in a request. But — and I kid you not — as I enter the room “The Wobble” IS ALREADY UNDERWAY. I slide into formation with a bunch of black women and start to believe in God.