This section of the tale is rated PG for my humor, which can come across as abrasive, but is actually very loving and modeled after the Agape love of Christ.
3/19/16: A Saturday
Written to serve as a diet substitute for the “Opiate of the Masses”
As the alarm blared its hellish song, I rose from my bed, fully aware of how late I stayed up. What a banner start to a week. I rolled out of the futon I shared with Jon Hall and blearily felt around my backpack for a pair of jeans.
“Clark,” you ask, “why were you sleeping in the same bed as another male? Isn’t that, well, you know, GAY?”
Well, the word gay has two meanings, so it really depends on what you mean by gay. If you mean that sharing my place of slumber with another male is lighthearted or carefree, then I’m afraid that it is not at all gay. There is nothing lighthearted about trusting another human enough to lose consciousness on purpose near them. If however, you’re implying that it is a homosexual practice, then I must also disappoint you, because Jon and I keep the largest gap possible between us. You could fit three sheep and a cheese wheel in that gap, and that isn’t wild speculation. We’ve done it. Anyways, I had moved to Jon’s bed a couple hours earlier, when I realized that the carpet was not as comfortable as previously imagined, and I was also real freaking cold.
I grabbed my clothes and Bag of Goodies (noble-speak for a plastic bag, containing my toothbrush and comb) and headed up the stairs, dreading the contact of other humans. As I mounted the steps, I heard multiple female voices, a sound I try not to hear before nine thirty or so most mornings. This isn’t because I don’t like ladies, but it’s due to the fact that most shape shifters become women to trick people, and my mental faculties are not at their peak until about nine thirty in the mornings. Shape shifters are one of my top fears, only behind sparking electrical outlets, dolls that move by themselves, and failing in the celestial class of life. Anyways, I opened the door, and nodded curtly at who I assumed was Mrs. Hall, Danielle, Melissa, and Jon’s little sister, Rebecca. Well, I hoped it was Rebecca, and not some soul-sucking life form from the depths of my nightmares. Who knows, really.
“Good morning!” said Mrs. Hall, cheerfully awake at this horrendous hour.
“OttowaisthecapitalofCanada” I muttered, trying to say “good morning” in response, but incapable due to my bleary state of mind.
I mounted the stairs, a desperate spring in my step, craving a shower like Marx craved a classless society. For your sake, I won’t narrate the shower. Let’s just say it was wet and soapy. Heading back downstairs, I caught the scent of that wonderful drink, le café. Jon and Shea are overachievers, so they made coffee using a Chemex pourover. I’m not complaining, because this is some of the best coffee available to modern man, and I fully intend to purchase a Chemex when I get home. I drained the drink, and watched nervously as Melissa and Danielle began making scrambled eggs for the Kiddos.
“Ooh, maybe you should sauté the spinach first” I said, sensing a rather large mistake about to happen.
“Oh, Clark!” said Melissa, “I didn’t know you were a culinary genius!”
“Yeah Clark,” said Danielle, “why don’t you grab your big white hat and come show us how it’s done.”
Readers, now you see what kind of crap I have to deal with in my quest to make the world a better place. I just wanted good scrambled eggs to be a part of our first day in D.C., but it proved near-impossible, with Benedict Arnolds on every side. There is a joke about Eggs Benedict here, but I don’t have time to think of it.
“Please, Master” continued Melissa, “enlighten us in the art of Eggery.”
“Fine” I muttered, grabbing the vegetables and proceeding to make the heck out of some scrambled eggs. It should be noted that I didn’t get any snide remarks once the eggs were eaten. After breakfast, the most important meal before noon except for Brunch, we decided to embrace our touristy natures and hit up the National Art Gallery.
This Spring Break was really coincidental, as Jon, Shea, Melissa and myself were all in a general honors course called “Beauty,” which dealt with the idea of beauty, how it can be seen, and where it can be seen. Danielle is not in the course, but I’m fairly certain it’s due to an excess in IQ, and not a lack of any. It’s a brutal course, designed to break a student and piece them back together very slowly. So far in Beauty, we have discussed classical music and poetry in the class, but we have also briefly talked about some paintings. Going to this massive museum in the midst of the class was really cool, and should definitely earn us all extra credit wink wink nudge nudge.
The museum was gorgeous, and that’s all that can really be said with this simple prose. That’s the sad thing about prose. I’ll never be able to truly bring out the feelings I want to, due to the limits of the medium. You can’t accurately describe the sense of wonder that one gets from admiring Monet, Van Gogh, Dali, or Da Vinci. I could try and tell you about the gorgeous texture of the brush strokes in the Seine at Giverny, or give you a hint of the majesty in many modern American paintings, but it’s not the same. Reading about a Pollock painting, and seeing it a foot from your face are two very different things, and they’re incomparable. This may be why I hate all the cameras people bring into museums. Really? You’re trying to preserve Woman with a Parasol on your iPhone? Best of luck with that, buddy.
After having our worlds rocked with beauty that has outlived its creator, the Kiddos decided to grab some coffee. While there are plenty of coffee options in Washington D.C., we thought it’d be fun to walk through the drizzling, freezing rain/snow for about thirty minutes to a place called Bakers and Baristas or vice versa. It was good, just not risk of hypothermia good. After this welcome respite, the Hall parents picked us up to take us to the Holocaust museum. Interestingly, their car only has five seats, and seven people wanted to ride to the museum. Being law abiding citizens, only three of us went, and the other two stayed at B&B, discussing the modern American state.
Hahaha that is a lie. When the door opened in front of the Holocaust museum, any onlookers may have suspected a promotion for a local circus, due to the amount of people tumbling out of the car. Mr. Hall went to go find parking, and the rest of us went to go stand in line, with the rest of the poor cold little tourists. It wasn’t until we had wasted a decent fraction of our lives freezing that we realized the tickets were sold out for the day, and had to come up with plan B.
“Clark, my best of friends” said Mrs. Hall, “what would you like to do?”
“I would love to go back to your hospitable house, and sleep” I said, shivering in the urine of the heavens, or I would have, had that conversation ever occurred. It didn’t though, and for some dumb reason, we all decided to go to the Renwick Art Gallery. Thus began one of the longest walks of my life.
Driving, it’s only about 1.5 miles. When one is walking, however, the fabric of the cosmos begins to stretch, making you walk farther through both space and time. As the hypothermia began to settle into my core, I began to stumble through the streets, my mind bleary with the cold. I vividly remember posing for a picture in front of a garbage can with my name on it, but this is the only bright spot in a sea of vague clouds. As the edges of my vision began to encroach on my pupils, I had a sudden painful thought that I would never have the chance to nurse a baby tiger back to life. As my knees dropped to the cold, unforgiving pavement of D.C., I saw a small black blur two feet in front of me. I reached out, and picked it up.
“Help me, Clark,” said the blob, “you are my only hope.”
It was a baby tiger. A soaking wet, miserable, abandoned, hapless jungle cat, and God had placed it in my life for a reason. With a renewed passion to live, I struggled to my feet, and put the tiger in my jacket. His name is Leonidas I thought, as I jogged to catch up with my friends. He mewed weakly, and my heart quickened. He is mine, and I shall protect him.
“Guys!” I shouted, “I rescued a tiger!”
The other kiddos turned and looked at me with various facial expressions.
Melissa was the nicest, patting me on the head extremely patronizingly, and saying “well now you have a furry little friend.” She said little with a “w” sound.
“Glad you have someone who cares about you” said Shea.
“Ok, buddy” said Jon, clearly thinking I was losing my mind.
“It’s a germy, nasty, smelly, wet toy!” screamed Danielle, pulling out a butterfly knife and lunging at my shirt, which held Leo.
I’m still not sure how it happened, but all at once, there was a flash of light, and this super tall black guy with a name tag reading “Gabriel” was standing between Danielle and myself. He was protecting me from the knife with one hand, and pointing at Danielle with the other one, saying “No! No! Bad Danielle!” I’m sure he would have rapped her on the head with a newspaper if he’d have had one.
The kiddos and Mrs. Hall continued towards the Renwick, with the addition of a new furry friend who was in need of some TLC. A list of all the assassination attempts that Danielle took are listed at the end of this entry, as they are rather extensive, and the amount of them might wear the reader out.
The line for the Renwick was less horrific than the line for the Holocaust museum, mostly due to the new and improved company. Leonidas was so cool, and we had a lot in common. If I wasn’t his adopted dad, I might even ask him out. Maybe tigers can date their adopted parents. I’ll have to look that up. Mr. Hall joined us on the steps of the Renwick, and we were able to go through altogether.
The Renwick is a more tangible modern art museum, and has nine exhibits, each of which takes up an entire room. Things like giant bird nest like structures one can fully explore, a giant floating net which corresponds directly to the power levels from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami which hit Asia fill the various rooms, and it was very unlike the first museum. My two favorite pieces were a group of strings arranged by color to look like a rainbow, which spanned the whole room. It was like stepping into Pink Floyd’s album, and was a very beautiful experience. There was also a chandelier like series of metallic strips embedded with thousands of LEDs that were completely random, resulting in a (nearly) infinite combination of flashing lights. Sometimes, the lights all corresponded,forming waves or other cool shapes. The museum was very interesting, to say the least. Also, sorry I don’t have a joke in this paragraph. Sometimes a guy’s just got to talk beauty, amirite ladies?
On the way back to Jon’s house, we stopped at Trader Joe’s, known in the community as “That Whole Foods That Doesn’t Suck.” Originally, we had planned on making Pad Thai for dinner, but it had been a long day, so we just got a few snack foods and other essentials, including a box of sushi and non-alcoholic beer. Now in Tennessee, you have to be 21 to purchase non-alcoholic beer, due to the very low alcohol content. Apparently in Maryland, it’s totally cool though. If anybody reads this and knows that it’s super illegal for minors to drink non-alcoholic beer in Maryland, I don’t want to hear about it. Keep your mouth shut.
Dinner at the Hall’s consisted of some very excellent chicken tortilla soup, thanks to Mrs. Hall. Soup is always good, but after nearly dying, there’s not much better for me or Leonidas than a bowl of steaming soup.
After dinner, everyone took a little bit to recuperate from the days events. I read some fascinating book or something, while Jon and Shea had a muscle flexing contest, which they referred to as “Mr. Hall’s House 2016.” Melissa and Danielle, along with Rebecca Hall found embarrassing, near pornographic images of Jon as a child, and proceeded to send them to the group chat. Think loin cloths, and even worse. Ugh, childhood pictures. I’ll keep you updated with more details as they come in.
After “The incident,” we all watched The Princess Bride, which Melissa had never seen before. Now before you scream “heretic!” from your desk, and storm out of your room, intent on giving Melissa a stern talking to, she has a good excuse. Ha, no she doesn’t. She should be ashamed of her uncultured movie history.
Sometime halfway through the movie, the sushi was brought out, along with the beers. The beers were interesting, but since I have no idea what a real beer tastes like, I can’t compare the two. I mixed the wasabi and soy sauce, and apparently I put too much wasabi in, because some of the other kiddos were crying. I think it was perfect, clearing my sinuses, and giving me a very minor nose bleed. I’d count any day without breaking a toe a good one.
Remember that one time that I said I was going to have a list of ways Danielle tried to kill Leonidas at the end of this piece? Well, after writing it all out, I realized that there were too many, and they were all extremely violent. Seriously, these assassination attempts are disturbing. If you really want to know, just ask me in person sometime. Also, TUNE IN NEXT TIME TO HEAR ABOUT THE KIDDOS’ SUNDAY IN DC!