Peter Kaplan, 13, was willing to do anything, even miss an algebra test, to get a glimpse of the world champion Redskins on their victory parade.
Yesterday morning, accompanied by his father, his younger brother and a friend, he got up early, packed a picnic lunch and took the Metro from his home in Bethesda, arriving at 13th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW at 9:30 a.m. -- an hour and a half before the parade was to start.
Afterward, the youths had this to say:
"The only way I would go again is if I was in the bus with the Redskins," said Scott Kaplan, 10.
"I'd bring a ladder," said Ben Galbraith, 13.
"I'd buy a penthouse," said Peter Kaplan.
Nearly trampled by an excited crowd that surged past police barriers and all but enveloped the conquering heroes in their buses, the three boys saw little of the spectacle they had been promised.
Oh sure, they got to see Mayor Marion Barry waving from the back of an open convertible, not to mention a couple of marching bands and a handful of politicians they had never heard of. But you can see that at any parade.
"I think I would have rather seen more Redskins and less political figures," Peter said, although he admitted that it was probably more fun than school.
And he did catch a glimpse of Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs before his view was blocked by a wall of bodies.
All in all, said his father Herb, the event fell into a category called "terrible to live through but great to talk about later."
It seemed like such a good idea at the time. All die-hard Redskins fans, the boys thought for about two seconds when Herb Kaplan asked them if they would be willing to take the day off from school to help celebrate the football team's victory in downtown Washington.
"I tried to get out of it after I heard the weather forecast," said the elder Kaplan, a bearded, cheerful man who manages restaurants for a living. "But the kids insisted."
Peter, who attends Pyle Intermediate School in Bethesda, allowed that "only the nerds" planned on going to classes yesterday.
They arrived at the parade route in plenty of time for a prime viewing spot, right up against a police cable along the edge of the sidewalk at 13th and Pennsylvania.
They wore full Redskins regalia, Peter with a Redskins cap, Ben with a set of Redskins buttons, Scott with a Redskins T-shirt pulled over his ski parka and a pair of binoculars that weighed more than he did.
Kaplan asked the boys if their screaming muscles were warmed up.
"Our music teacher doesn't like us to scream," said Peter, who sings in the chorus. "He says it hurts our voices."
Throwing caution to the wind, he let out a couple of shrill war whoops.
As parade time approached, the crowd began to push and yell.
Scott looked disapprovingly at the teen-agers who climbed up on the light posts and into the trees, ignoring the admonitions of dozens of police officers below.
"How much more longer, Dad?" he asked, not for the first time.
The brothers began to argue over whether they had ever waited longer for anything, such as the annual Easter egg roll at the White House or the rides at Disney World.
They began to stamp their feet to ward off the chill. "I'm getting frostbite," Scott said.
"Good," said his brother.
"Has the parade started yet?" Scott asked. He decided that he had been this cold only once before, when he went skiing.
The event turned out to be something of an anticlimax, and a nerve-racking one at that.
An ear-splitting roar, punctuated by air horns and whistles, signaled the approach of the Redskins.
The crowd began to surge forward, pressing people into the taut cable that defined the edge of the sidewalk.
Police abandoned all hope of crowd control as fans began to slip underneath the cable and spill into the street.
Kaplan began to look nervous.
"You all right, Ben?" he asked, as Ben was nearly swept away by the human tide. "This crowd has gotten heavier than your father anticipated," he said to his sons.
"I want to see the Redskins," Peter said.
As the buses carrying the team rolled by, Scott held up his camera and tried to get a picture. But it was to no avail. "Dad," he said, "I can't see anything."
Finally, the pressure eased up as the Redskins moved up the avenue toward the White House, and Peter had a great idea.
"Let's go home and watch it on TV," he said.