a required taste for the pretentious as all get out





my parents went to d.c. to see president reagan lying in state and all i got was some sleep
June 15, 2004, 3:12 pm

I arrived home late on Thursday to find the back stairwell light on and a lot of voices floating up from it. It was a crowd of twenty-somethings smoking cigarettes and drinking beer; their leader? My 21 year-old sister. Obviously, the folks weren't home.

"What the crap?" I asked Christina.

"Mom and Dad went, dude."


See, there was discussion about it on Wednesday. Mom and I sat watching tv, saying things like, "I can't believe how quiet it is!" and "Nancy is barely holding it together" and "This is too, too sad." There was talk about us all, family-style, getting in the car and going down to the Capitol Building to see the first President I remember. Christina dealt with her grief by inviting several friends over to drink the rest of the beer in the fridge.

1982: State of the Union Address. I cannot sleep (as per usual). I watch the speech with Mom and Dad in their bed, and whenever I hear clapping, I shout "YAY, REAGAN!" as loud as I can, frightening Dad who is floating in and out of sleep.

1984ish: I remember watching Nancy Reagan on Diff'rent Strokes and thinking she seemed nice.

So, my parents, with their own memories of the Reagans and the Presidency, their own memories of those years where my Dad suffered unemployment and they welcomed two more children into the uncertain world, decided to go pay their last respects and left Annapolis at 9:15p.m.

At 4:00a.m. my mother called, asking me to call in a substitute for her. "We're in the last ten people!" she chirped.

At 6:37a.m., I saw my parents on Channel 13 news.

At 7:18a.m., my parents saw the President for about forty-five seconds before they were shooed out the other door. They had waited in line all night, snaking around the Mall, standing, standing, standing and walking, and standing to be a part of history.

"Mom," I hissed on the phone, "I cannot believe you stood up ALL NIGHT!"

"Your father is at work right now! He went home and got a shower and then went to play golf! Man, I'm sore."

"I bet."

"But you know what, Jessica? It was completely worth it. I've never been in a place with so many people who were so quiet at once. It was really nice. Oh, we brought you home some Presidential stationery."

"I would have preferred a My Parents Went To See The Dead President And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt shirt."



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