Scratch those metaphors. What I mean is, Betsy, of Silver Spring, Md., has other D.C. things she also dreams of accomplishing. She’d love to go to the Kennedy Center Honors. She’d love to meet Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and thank her for being a role model. She’d love to accompany chef José Andrés on one of his hurricane relief trips.
In today’s column, readers share quintessentially D.C. experiences that aren’t things you’ll find in a guidebook.
Silver Spring’s Robert Tiller said nothing is more Washington than being in a restaurant when the Secret Service comes in to check everything out, followed a few minutes later by a Cabinet member arriving as a customer.
(To which I would add, followed a few minutes later by being hounded out by other customers.)
Richard O. Litsey, a former Senate staffer who lives in Lewes, Del., is proud of completing — twice! — what he calls the D.C. trifecta: “eating free breakfast, lunch and dinner in the same day at receptions in the Senate and House rooms.”
Washington being what it is, not every experience is desired. Susan R. Paisner of Silver Spring has developed what she calls the anti-bucket list. It includes being subpoenaed to appear before Congress and having to testify in front of a congressional committee.
Wrote Susan: “I’ve experienced these things, by the way, for good or for ill.”
The District’s David Driscoll came close to a potentially historic experience. He was one of about a hundred federal court jurors in the pool for the Paul Manafort trial. Wrote David: “We filled out a long questionnaire in the courtroom the first day we were summoned.”
Manafort ruined the fun by agreeing to plead guilty a few days before the jurors were supposed to return for voir dire, the jury-selection process.
A few years ago, Anne P. Holloway of Alexandria, Va., was in a meeting in a building near the U.S. Capitol. Things were interrupted when an alarm bell sounded and a disembodied voice ordered everyone to “Evacuate immediately. This is not a drill.”
Wrote Anne: “Papers flew up in the air and I’m not sure Olympic sprinters could have kept up with the meeting attendees as they raced for the exits.”
Anne started to cross the street to retrieve her car, which was parked there. “I was called out by a very agitated police officer who indicated — stridently — that I was not to head in that direction,” she wrote. “I was told there was a bomb threat and I was to leave the area immediately. I pointed to my car and asked if I might just hop in since it was so close by.”
Nope. The “bomb” was thought to be in the car next to Anne’s. She took the Metro home and spent the evening glued to the TV, watching her car, which was prominently featured on “breaking news” reports about the D.C. bomb threat.
“Needless to say, this was one local news story that had me riveted, as I was just days away from my final car payment,” she wrote. “All’s well that ends well: I still have my (fully paid-off) car and there was no bomb after all.”
So far, we’ve heard from people who — willingly or not — ticked a box on their D.C. bucket list. Cathy Strickler of Harrisonburg, Va., hasn’t. Her wish? To play her violin at the Kennedy Center with the National Symphony Orchestra: second violin, last stand, one piece.
Cathy grew up in a blue-collar Arlington, Va., neighborhood. Her family didn’t have money for private lessons, so she took lessons at her public elementary school (Woodmont) and then played in the orchestra at Stratford Junior High and Washington-Lee High School.
Wrote Cathy: “I was always on the last stand of the second violins but always proud and loved being part of making wonderful music. I’m 74 now and am still enjoying my same violin that my parents bought for me in fourth grade.
“I would like to play to honor teachers who accept and nourish the average students, who may not excel, but nonetheless, need and appreciate the professionalism and caring of their teachers. And one last time, I would love to be in the middle of beautiful sound.”
Tomorrow: We roll out the barrel one more time.