You had to be there. You had to get dolphin-wet and an umbrella tip upside the temple every few seconds just to be able to tell the grandkids you nearly got run over by a Hogmobile the day Washington poured out its heart to the Redskins.
Good thing it rained. Otherwise, the tens of thousands who adore them almost surely would have done what no gang of National Football League meanies had all season: buried the Redskins. Had open cars been used instead of buses, as planned, Smurfs would have been Smushed, larger Redskins hurting for days from love hugs.
If it moved yesterday around noon and included anything vaguely Redskinlike, it got cheered. And then overrun. Even John Riggins could not have gained any yardage around 14th and Constitution, had John Riggins the courtesy to show up on time for the celebration.
Since something so grand only happens here every 40 years or so, nobody quite knew how to react. How would the heroes be viewed? Cars with players' names taped to the sides suddenly began parading down 14th Street long before the parade. The assumption was that the player whose name appeared on the car was behind the wheel.
"Hey, Art Monk! Over here . . . Jacoby! . . . Look this way, Butz."
Wait a minute. The last time anybody checked, Dave Butz was not wearing lipstick and fingernail polish.
"These ain't the guys," a perceptive youngster declared.
Lines were so thick you watched with your ears. It was a lot like the Masters golf tournament when Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer get paired. The dozens who can see pass the word along to the thousands who cannot, who are part of the spectacle but not witnesses.
Yesterday was a happening that never quite happened.
Athletic crowds are neat melting pots, where a fellow down on his luck finds himself next to a ponchoed preppie, where a dozen teen-agers for whom Alvin Garrett sure beats prepositional phrases skips past two dripping dowagers.
Super Bowl spinoffs include trickle-down inspiration. The Redskins whipping the Dolphins a continent away moved some Latin teachers from Fairfax County to translate (loosely) "Hail to the Redskins" to:
"Fortes in Armis
"Pugra(te) pro urbiola!"
Just in case you ever wondered.
What the Redskins' special season did was generate an areawide smile that stretches from Loudoun County to Howard County. That and a license to be goofy, for wallflowers to peel off the woodwork and strut about in public in warpaint and Hog hats.
To suggest that restaurants now offer Smurf 'n' Turf.
You didn't have to be next to a son 500 yards from where the parade finally began, but it helped. Autographs and a ticket to the NFC title game have been carefully framed, to be hung not far from the noteboard in his bedroom that now boasts: "Redskins by eight or more in the Super Bowl. I was right!"
Closer by five points than his father.
At 14, Scott has a nice sense of sport. He adores Riggins, but appreciates LeCharls McDaniel.
"Must have given the regulars good practice," he said.
About the time "Quentin Lowry" and "Clint Didier" were being ripped from the cars from which they would have been perched on an ideal day and less suffocating mood, the crowd at our patch of the parade got restless.
There were rumors of Redskins, but no Redskins.
Only police on horseback parting the masses.
From up the street once came a siren and everyone stepped back, some politely. Then a smiling figure wearing a burgundy cowboy hat and waving passionately strutted by.
"Mark Moseley," someone whispered.
"Think it's Joe," another insisted.
Lousy fair-weather fans.
It was George Michael.
The Mark Murphy car having sped off without Mark Murphy, and so on and so on, the two buses bulging with players finally got enough blocking to inch to us--and past. It was a grind-it-out parade, same as the Redskins' offense has been lately. Straight ahead and relentless.
You had to watch your son watch. He didn't need to join the others pushing to the side of the bus, jumping for a handshake. A look was enough.
His special Hog, Jeff Bostic, could not be spotted; his favorite among the Fun Bunch, Charlie Brown, was in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl. No matter. He focused on Jeris White and some others. Expressions, him to them, and to me, to last a lifetime.
Great excuse for a parade.