So, the story of my trip across the river to DC on Inauguration Day is as follows:
INTERIOR: BEDROOM - 7:01 AM, JANUARY 20, 2009
OUR HERO (henceforth "he", "him", "the devastatingly handsome"), inexplicably awake, hears his cell phone alert (an R2 D2 whistle, naturally) in the other room. Instinctively, he knows it is his contact with the DNC who has said she would call if she had extra tickets on the Capitol Grounds. Not feeling particularly good himself -- the first signs of a chest cold coming on -- but knowing his significant other would LOVE to go, he checks the phone. To his expectant dread, he confirms the worst -- he has two tickets if he wants them.
EXTERIOR: KING STREET METRO - 7:15 AM
Having donned appropriate sweatgear, his rendezvous with Deep Throat goes as expected. Although she has SEATED tickets actually at the Capital, she doesn't want to go, saying that she was there Sunday for the concert and it was "chaos".
INTERIOR: TOILET - 8 AM
Let's just say our hero was not feeling well this day. But he rallies.
INTERIOR: METRO - GALLERY PLACE - 9:30 AM
The two don't encounter any problems with the trip, although the train was packed. Luckily, they got off the Metro just before some lady fell in between another train and the wall, further clustering the massive chaos (she was fine -- minor injuries, as it turned out). The effect was to close the key Metro station for about 20 minutes. Not fun.
EXTERIOR: D STREET - 9:45 AM
Not that our heroes know it, but they are about 100 yards from the Purple Gate, the section our tickets indicate will grant us access. Secret service agents have shut down the entrance, but no one is told. There are thousands and thousands of people packing the streets, and no one is moving anywhere. Most stand here for about an hour, before finally getting through a choke point (about 20 feet away) toward the the "Purple Gate". The crowd is anxious but quite calm and good natured at this point.
EXTERIOR: PURPLE GATE - 10:45 AM - 12 PM
The crowd, thousands strong, stand outside the gate, which is closed and never opens. Inexplicably, they are letting people in the exit to the Purple section, and they can be seen trickling in. Of course, over the course of the next hour, no one makes any progress.
MAN: (in front of our hero) I got here at 5:30 this morning.
It becomes clear that arrival time had nothing to do with not getting in. Clearly, someone organizing screwing things up badly. A small child sitting on his father's shoulders starts the chant "We have tickets, let us in!" and the throng goes with it. The crowd, although clearly agitated and frustrated, it still in good spirits, so eventually everyone gives up. And although they all had tickets to actually be within a stone's throw of the swearing in, most spend it behind an oak, with no audio or visual clues that the ceremony happened.
INTERIOR: BEDROOM - 3 PM
EPILOGUE: Here's my campaign promise for the next time someone has inauguration tickets: "I won't go". Here is the story from the Post on the gate problem, which really doesn't reveal much, except there were a lot of irritated people.
PS: Although the vast majority of people were in great spirits, you had your occasionial hater who couldn't resist bashing Bush one last time. I am most relieved for the new administration so we don't have to hear so many laughably-deluded-Bush-is-the-worst-ever-and-the-cause-of-all-our-problems fools. Eye-rolling gets tiring, I tell you. My liberal significant other is much saner than that!