They live not far from The Mall; we could just shoot up to 7th Street and enter. But 7th St was already jammed with people; we had to head left, past the security-closed (or also already jammed) 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th Streets. Finally, at 12th Street, we could make our way along with a throng of others. We ended up down by the Washington Monument watching a Megatron which, technically, was not at 100%.
Still I was thrilled to be one in a crowd that was witnessing history. Then we had to walk (according to my legs} another hundred miles to get to Pennsylvania Avenue for the parade. I wanted to see the man who is my favorite President, the one I consider the most decent, the most honorable, the one who, by birth, would have seemed most unlikely to become a great leader. The one I love.
Finally, nearing Pennsylvania Avenue, one street after another that led to it was so thronged with people that it didn't seem like they could contain even one additional one. So up another block, another block, another block. My legs are sobbing. Finally we join a mob at one of the intersections.
Bill is the anxious type; he checks his watch often. We inch forward. Bill checks his watch. And we inch forward. Bill checks his watch. We'd begun this phase of the journey just one single block from the security checkpoint beyond which was the heaven of Pennsylvania Avenue. We inch forward. Watch-check. Three small steps forward. Despair. Slow pace. Anxiety ... the parade will pass before we get anywhere near the avenue. Four short steps forward. Bill checks watch. I beg him to stop it. "Just be here now!" I admonish. "I'm freezing," he says, "I just want to get up there where the sun is not behind a building."
"It's forty two degrees for crying out loud. That's not even cold," I say.
"We're not used to this," he counters.
Despair and worry and doldrums and more despair. In the end, inching along with the throngs, it took us two hours to walk that one single block. I'm not exaggerating. Bill timed it.
We cleared security. We found a place to stand where, between sets of bleachers, we had a view of Pennsylvania Avenue, but were behind a barricade which prevented us getting right down next to the Avenue.
I couldn't believe I'd walked so far and my legs were cramping and crying and now all I was going to see was a black limousine pass by; I wouldn't be able to see whether it was President Obama or Lebron James smiling out at the crowd.
Bill was to my right; to his right were three spiffily dressed and bedecked black ladies, obviously proud, excited. Suddenly Bill heard the lady closest to him say, "Oh, no! That guy over there, he's gonna get arrested!" Bill looked at her to see where her eyes were drawn to. He saw that the guy who was "gonna get arrested" was me. What the ladies could see but I could not were three policemen approaching from behind the bleachers to our right. I heard those ladies shouting things like,"Go in the john!" (There was a long row of Port-a-potties behind each set of bleachers.) "Hurry up!" "Get goin'" "Run!"
I didn't need to pee ... well, I did, but my President was about to pass by ... and I wondered who those ladies were shouting at. I turned around and saw that they were shouting at me! Simultaneously I saw the three policemen stroll by; how they had failed to witness my breach of security I will never know; all three must have had their eyes averted during that tiny piece of time it took me to climb over. When they, casually eyeing the crowds, each tapping his billy club against his hand or his thigh, were safely past I noticed the ladies were now seeming so excited and tickled by my disorderly conduct, gleeful that I had avoided handcuffs.
I went over to them. I got high-fives. "You be the man!" the one in the red coat exclaimed.
Those high-fives made my day.
Plus I got close enough to the avenue to see my President and see that it actually was him.