"It's a day, all right," said Tiny Tim the shoeshine man.
The siege was over, and you would have thought the whole city had been imprisoned up there in the B'nai B'rith, the way they were behaving.
At lunchtime yesterday you almost couldn't get there on the sidewalks, they were so crowded with dawdling, ice-cream-eating, unfretted people, and in the downtown parks the first sunbathers sprawled every which way. The little Chinese food wagons had so many customers they were taking reservations. Even the phone booths had queues.
It was just one of those days when it felt great to be alive and loose in Washington, and you knew you wouldn't have to nine blocks out of your way to get home, and you no longer than to wonder if those guys really meant it about throwing heads out on the pavement.
There wasn't a single protester in front of the White House, only a couple of tourists sticking their cameras through the bars waiting for someone to show a face at a window. The last President to look out the window was Taft but on a day like this, you never could tell.
In Lafayetter Park poet Allen Ginsberg sat having his picture taken next to a squadron of pigeons. Suddenly some pigeon radar ordered a scramble and the birds took off in a great flapping crowd while Ginsberg watched, bemused.
Now even with lunch hour long gone, people are still hanging around outside. Behind the National Geographic building a gardener digs up a hedge, and some yogurt-eaters from the delly across the street ask him desultory question. He isn't talking.
And if you stand at the corner of L and Connecticut awhile, you see all the regulars are out: The skinny kid in the satin jumpsuit holding a suit-case-size radio to his ear. The shopping bag ladies. The raggedy youn couple with a large dog on a string. The cross old man who goes along loudly dressing down in Greek an invisible enemy just in front of him who is presumably backing up before him, nimbly, waiting in vain for a pause so he can reply.
The 14th Street ladies are out, wearing skirts up to here. Who says the mini is dead? "Hey baby," one calls. Friendly smiles. It's too nice to work.
Outside B'nai B'rith, a cop stands guard over a pile of crowd barriers while a truck back up to the curb to load them. Three people collect at the corner to gawk at the eight floor, pointing. The windows, still painted over, have been opened.
Just up the street is a grassy traffic island where two days ago police waited tensely, all guns and helmets and tight mouths, surrounded by crash wagons and swirling red lights. Today there are only two people on the island. They are lying on the grass, the man's coatspread out beneath the woman's head. They are kissing.