Essays · PG-13

$pring Break 2k16: The Kiddos of Destiny take D.C. Part 4: Sunday, Longest Sunday

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Rated PG-13 because I wanted to joke about drugs and other things. It’s fine though. Just read it. Let me make my slightly borderline jokes. Remove the log before the speck or whatever. Also, you may think the above picture is out of focus, but it is perfectly focused on the light fixture, so get over yourself and your supposed artistic sensibilities.

3/20/16: The Sunday of the Trip

Sundays are one of my favorite days, because I won’t have work until at least 4 o’clock, and I can usually make it to church. On vacation, I don’t have work, so Sundays are pretty much a guaranteed success. Church didn’t even start until 10:45, so when I fell asleep around 1 o’clock, I couldn’t imagine a way in which I would not enjoy my morning. Cue Jon Hall, shatterer of dreams. At 7:50, I was rudely awakened out of a great dream involving three lamps by Jon, who was looking for my car keys. I had apparently blocked him in when I parked the night before. I crawled from my bed, and started sifting through my jeans, listening for that distinctive metal on metal clink, but couldn’t hear it. Well, eff. I sat back, and thought back to where I last saw the keys. A vision popped into my head, and I saw myself handing the keys to Jon the evening before, as we’re leaving Trader Joe’s. Idiot. Jon apologized to me after I slurred out “The keys are where you left them, dummy” (that may or may not be the insult I actually used) and crawled back to sleep.

The next alarm went off at 930, and I felt remarkably well-rested. Not sleeping with Jon does wonders for the soul. Breakfast was lighter that day, but I couldn’t eat much. I was far too excited to see Jon playing a keyboard in a Presbyterian church, after six months of us going to All Saints Anglican Church. Incredibly, Mr. Hall humbled himself enough to ride with Melissa, Shea, Danielle and myself to church. Displaying such an exemplary model of humility has become my sole purpose for writing this story, and if you want, you can stop reading now. This is it, the fulcrum of the story. It’s all downhill from here.

“You guys want to hear any governmental secrets?” asked Mr. Hall, who worked for the government.

“Nope,” I said, having seen plenty of X-files episodes.

The rest of the ride went pretty normally, and Danielle only tried to kill Leonidas twice. The church itself reminded me of my own home church, Christ Community Church in Franklin, although it was on a smaller scale. As easy as it would be to make fun of a church service, I prefer not to play with (tongues of) fire, and will refrain from such actions. Ryan Sinni, a sophomore from Union and one of my good friends was also on Spring Break (imagine that), and he was playing piano during the service.

After the service, I met a good deal of the Hall and Sinni relatives and friends, and every single one of them said the same thing. “Oh, you must be Clark, the tall one.” This tells me one thing, and one thing only: the one characteristic that my friends use to describe me is one that I can’t even control. They don’t go for “Wait until you meet Clark! He’s this jolly individual with a mane of gorgeous hair!” or “I have this friend named Clark, and he can spell really well.” No, they say “My friend Clark’s genetic tendencies have influenced his body to continue growing well past the norm.” I believe this is something fairly unique of tall people. You don’t meet someone in a group of people and say “Oh, Korey, you must be the black one!” or “Denise, you must be the one with horrible breath regardless of the amount of times you brush your teeth!” Being black is something you can’t control (unless you’re Michael Jackson), and so is chronic bad breath. You shouldn’t describe someone by a characteristic that they can’t control, and expect them to be OK with it.

With all of this in mind, I love being known as the tall kid, and you all can keep referring to me as that. If any high schoolers want to cite this novella on stereotypes, just cite the above paragraph, and pray your teacher doesn’t read any others.

After meeting everyone, we all headed back to Jon’s house, without Jon or his progenitor to guide us. Having been in the state of Maryland for an entire day and a half, I was pretty confident with my navigational ability, and pride myself on the natural compass in my appendix. Many people have asked how my appendix functions as a compass, and that’s a difficult question to answer. It’s almost like an eighth sense, but at the same time it’s very close to a seventh sense, or maybe even a third. I guess it doesn’t really matter what number of sense it is, since I’m lying, and have horrific navigational skills, unless I’m on foot. I’m basically Aragorn on foot. Regardless, we were not on foot when we drove back to Jon’s house, and I managed to get us pretty lost. We eventually made it back, but who knows how many lifetimes we wasted thanks to one wrong turn. I knew I should have gone left at Albuquerque.

Pulling up to the Hall’s house, we saw another car parking. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Tom Selleck is in this novella? That’s crazy! This was an unexpected twist!” Sorry to disappoint you, but the car did not remotely belong to Tom or his mustache. Instead, it was owned by a remarkable little dog named Gromit, and his owners Abby and Eric. Abby was once a Hall, but then she went and got married. After parliamentary procedure was followed and we shook each other’s hands, we all went inside to find one of God’s gifts to the world: tacos.

Tacos are great. You can make tacos using anything: beef, chicken, condensed sadness, and even sweet potatoes are all fair game. Much like humans, they’re all very different, and taste far better when warmed up. These tacos were better than average, and so I ate slightly more than my usual 2000 calories worth. Yes, this might have something to do with how free the guacamole was. We ate with Abby, Eric, and one set of the Hall grandparents, although I’m not sure which side they were on, and at this point I’m afraid to ask.

After lunch, we decided to go check out the National Cathedral. If you’ve never seen the National Cathedral before, it’s like a castle, but with God. We went into the parking garage so that we could check it out, and that’s when our hearts dropped. A small sign read “Closed for performance of Mozart’s Requiem.”

As Michael Scott once said: “NO! NO GOD NO! NO! NOOOOOOOOO!” We had just studied Mozart’s Requiem in our honors class, and we had missed an incredible concert in the National Cathedral, due to time. Yes, the concert probably cost quite a decent amount of money, but money is nothing when compared to the beauty of a Mozart piece in this castle. Besides, we could totally have snuck in if we would have gotten here an hour earlier. We drove back out to the street, and decided to go check out the cathedral regardless.

This paragraph is entitled “Jon and the first parallel parking job.” We all espied a decent spot on the street, and Jon pulled up to the car in front of it, turning his blinker on, and saying a silent prayer. He lined up the car, and turned the wheel clockwise, for the first time. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for different results. If this is true, then Jon Hall is quite insane, because he went back and forth so much that there were four rivets in the street where my car’s tires dug themselves in. This isn’t completely Jon’s fault, as the cars in front and behind us were quite close, but some Jon has got to be blamed, and it SURE isn’t Antipope John XXIII. Towards the end, when all of our hope was fading, Shea got out of the car and directed us like an air traffic controller, using his hands in the place of guiding beacons. I actually have a pair of guiding beacons in the trunk, but they were covered up by other things.

After the ordeal, we all walked up to the cathedral, and stopped to take in the majesty of it. There is something about this neo-gothic masterpiece that lit up a piece of my brain as nothing else has done. The feeling is very close to awe, and when I saw several pieces of the cathedral that had fallen to the ground during a storm, that sense of awe was mixed with fear. Grand and majestic are two words that would be used to describe the building, but they don’t do it justice. It’s so much grander and majestic than the words themselves can describe. Pictures and videos won’t help either, and it’s something that needs to be actually experienced, just like cocaine. I bet you were worried this was going to be another jokeless paragraph, but I fixed that for ya. After all, a paragraph without a joke is like a hug without a squeeze.

 Glancing up from the fallen pieces of the cathedral, I saw that the other kiddos were either kidnapped or inside the cathedral already, so I ran after them, hoping to either catch up with them, or split the ransom money. Right when I reached the steps, Jon stepped out.

“Hurry!” he whisper-yelled, obviously unsure what running means. Jon, if you’re reading this, running is hurrying, so when I was running up the steps of the National Cathedral, I was hurrying. Once I got inside, I saw the choir walking on to the stage, having just finished an intermission.

In this situation, most people would think “oh wow, looks like I’ll be able to go into the cathedral and see the other half of the show!” I, however, thought “Sweet, they’re about to do the second half. I’ll go find a hiding spot so the guards can’t find me and throw me out.” I’m afraid Metal Gear Solid has done things to me. I crouched down in a corner, camera in hand, ready to film a great concert, and then Shea came around the corner.

“Guys!” said Shea, “We can go watch it! I just talked to this lady, and she said we could still get in, and I volunteered to pay.”

Now before you all think the lady told Shea he might have to pay, I would like to correct that idea. She said we could see the show, and then Shea said, “sweet, we will also pay money.” I mean, it was nice to pay, but that’s like someone saying “The only way to Heaven is through me, and if you merely say you believe in me and repent of your sins, you’re free to come and chill” and then some massive church movement that almost rhymes with alcoholic says “cool, but we’re also going to do works.”

I was rather skeptical at first, so I followed Shea at a slight distance, ready to go back into hiding should any burly security guards grab him and hoist him out of the cathedral. This did not happen, but if Boy Scouts taught me anything, it’s that one could be grabbed from behind with absolutely no warning, so I was prepared for that. We all put a small amount of money in this large container which I assume served as a tithing reservoir, and went to sit down on the far left.

THIS IS A BREAK POINT. IF YOU ARE TIRED, GO SLEEP AND COME BACK TO READ THE REST. THIS IS A LONG PIECE, AND I WANT YOU TO THOROUGHLY ENJOY EVERY WORD OF IT. 

GLAD YOU ARE BACK. LET US CONTINUE.

There are a precious few musical moments in my life in which something has, to quote Freddie Mercury, “sent shivers down my spine.” Recently, it has happened quite a lot with NF’s new album, Therapy Session. It also happens every time I listen to Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” regardless of the shoes I’m wearing. Music transcends shoes. With that in mind, when the choir began singing “Requiem Aeternam,” it felt like my back was filleted open and an amateur musician was using my spine as a substitute for a xylophone. I rocked forward a little bit, and looked at the other kiddos, barely able to speak. We were here, and this was happening.

As an adult, I want to be rich, but I’m not going to spend most of the money on stuff normal people would. No, I intend to have a massive library, a coffee pantry, a wine cellar, and the ability to go to concerts in tuxedos. I may not even go to the concerts themselves, but I want to be able to go see Bach, Mozart, and Brahms in the finest establishments with my dog, or whoever I end up living with.

With respect to the beauty of “Requiem,” and a laziness which infiltrates to my core, I won’t describe the concert. The hall in which the concert was held contains some of the prettiest architecture I’ve seen, although the people in the stain glass windows look like they’re straight out of a terrible child’s cartoon. The burial place of Woodrow Wilson is at the cathedral, but I successfully avoided my first urges to try and bring him back. There was also one specific brick upon which the Archbishop placed his hand to bless the cathedral, and there is a noticeable palm print where thousands have placed their hands. I did it too, so if any of you ever go to the National Cathedral and place your hand on that brick, it’s basically like giving me a high five from across the room, but instead of a one dimensional distance between us, the difference is in the fourth dimension.

After this wonderful excursion, Jon bumped into his uncle, and they talked for a little bit. I didn’t really care about whatever nerd conversation they would have, so I walked towards what looked like a pub. It turns out that it was the office of some church diocese or what not, but I had fun, and that’s what counts.

After the nerds finished talking, we all decided to go find a bookstore, and some food. We wanted a combination bookstore/restaurant, but not the kind where you read sandwiches, or the kind where you eat books. No, I am of course talking about a shop which offers both culinary delights as well as intellectual ones. With this goal in mind, the KIDDOS OF DESTINY plunged forward into the unknown, and started driving to nowhere in particular.

The problem with driving nowhere in particular is that you will get there startlingly fast. We put several bookstores into the GPS, but every time we got there, the nearest parking garage was located in Luxembourg. This constant driving interspersed with bursts of hope was enough to bring out little voices in the world’s sanest man. After thirty minutes of driving, we saw a decent looking strip of restaurants and Jon pulled into a parking garage.

There are lots of terrifying garages in the world, but Yelp ranks this one the fourth scariest. From the graffitied, ill-lit alleyway to the dark stairwell and broken alarms, this garage was doing its best to cure us of our collective hiccups. As we left the garage, a large painting covered the building to our right. I don’t remember what the painting was on, but there was definitely a painting there. At the time it seemed important, but it is apparent that I don’t even remember it. If any readers ever go to Washington D.C. and see a painting next to a parking garage that is probably the same one that I saw.

Our first stop after getting out of the garage and connecting alley was an older bookstore. Shea had given up buying books for Lent, but still wanted to go to multiple bookstores over the trip. This is like giving up water, and then becoming a life guard. Every day, you’ll sit in the hot sun, wishing for a glass of water, while the whole ocean stretches out before you. Eventually, you’ll lose your mind and take a big ol’ gulp of fish feces and salt-water. It’s dangerous.

The bookstore itself was fantastic, and had a wide variety. I bought Karl Shapiro’s “Trial of a Poet,” which I have yet to read. Several of the pages were not separated during the printing process, so if they are still like that when I die and my grandkids are digging through my stuff, then you’ll know I never got around to it. That, or I read it very carefully.

After the bookstore, Danielle decided that she wanted Greek food. This was undoubtedly some ploy to make us think that she is culturally savvy, but since she had already revealed her musical tastes to us, this plan failed horrendously. After mocking Danielle for several minutes about cultural appropriation, Melissa proposed that we go get Greek food, to which we all wholeheartedly agreed. Due to the mind-numbing scourges of mockery which we had flayed Danielle with, she had completely forgotten that Greek food was originally her idea. This caused her much mental trepidation, but eventually we all left the bookstore and walked to a nearby gyro shop, intent on devouring the flesh of baby sheep.

The first shop we entered was full-up, and since we didn’t want to get our gyros to go, eat them in the alley, and re-enact Batman’s origin story, we decided to find another gyro shop. This was not difficult, considering the part of town we were in, and there was one literally across the street. There is something about slightly sketchy parts of town that attracts tattoo parlors and Gyro shops, but I’m not sure what it is. If I could find that mysterious element, I could probably harvest it, place it in rich white neighborhoods, and open up a gyro shop called “Gyros for Rich People.” When I started writing that last sentence, I was fairly confident in my ability to come up with a pun about gyros and rich people, but it turns out I am really tired, and do not possess the mental faculties to formulate a very basic joke.

Anyways, we went to a mediterranean shop across the street which was called Yamas Grill. This might be my second favorite food of the whole trip, second only to dinner Monday night, which I have not yet written about.

“Oh wow,” you think, “a mystery! I will continue reading this novella just so I can discover what the Kiddos of Destiny eat for dinner on March 21st!” Well, joke’s on you, that was my intention this entire time. Gotcha. Much like Abrams writing LOST, I’ll just keep adding mysteries that I never really intend to resolve, desperately hoping that all of my readers are idiots, and have the attention span of a goldfish with ADHD.

Anyways, we ate some food, and it was great. The people at Yamas Grill even gave us a couple sodas for free, which bumped the restaurant from a 5/5 to a 6/5. As the food dissolved in our stomach acid, we drove back to Jon’s house, eager to rest after a second day of business.

“Oy,” said Melissa, the minute after we crossed over the threshold of Jon’s house, “my friend is making a documentary, and needs us to send her videos of us making coffee.” Jon and Shea were both quite excited to demonstrate their expertise in making both pour over coffee and Turkish coffee, so they eagerly set up their gadgets on the kitchen table as I looked on in amusement. After they had everything they needed, Melissa began to film Shea making coffee.

Shea is good at a lot of things. He is good at making coffee. He is good at describing what he is doing. He is even good at looking confident. Interestingly, he can do none of these three things whilst being filmed. In addition to these things, Murphy’s law quickly came into effect, and Shea spilled coffee, turned off the scale while measuring coffee, and unintentionally made several highly suggestive double entendres. It was wonderful.

About midway through this process, I went down into the basement to write this and listen to the new album by The 1975. After all, this may one day be seen as the greatest piece of writing done by a human, and may be preserved for future species to demonstrate the peak of Homo Sapien intelligence. It’s my duty as an American and a human to write this novella, and I will not disappoint. Also, The 1975’s new album is real long, but pretty good, just in case you were wondering.

After a little bit, I headed back upstairs to write on the Hall’s couch. I should clarify that I did not “write on the couch,” but sat on the couch while I typed on my computer. Jon made me promise before we got to his house that I wouldn’t draw on any furniture, and I regretfully agreed and kept this promise. Maybe.

At approximately 11:55 PM, I felt movement next to me, and a steaming cup of something was placed next to me. In situations like this, my body has been rigorously trained to grab the cup, smash it against the nearest wall, and use the biggest shards of glass to incapacitate whoever placed the glass next to me. Since none of my friends knew this at the time, however, I decided to see who it was before I did anything rash. It’s a dang good thing I did, because it was Jon, placing a cup of what resembled coffee on the coffee table. This may have been the first time I can recall a coffee table being used properly.

“It’s turkish coffee” said Jon, “try it.”

While I will admit my first thought was “coffee made from a turkey? Jon is weeeeeiiiiiird” I quickly realized that turkish coffee was simply a form of brewing coffee that originated in the country of Turkey. For my older readers, Turkey is that country that used to be a part of the Ottoman Empire. Normally I don’t drink beverages, preferring to sustain my body on sunlight and the occasional candy bar, but Jon is a good friend, so I decided to humor him.

Have you ever tried black coffee, and thought “This would be way better if it was about eighteen and a half times stronger?” Well, if you have, then turkish coffee is for you. Not only is there enough caffeine in a cup to kill an infant or a smaller toddler, but turkish coffee has transcended the typical liquid state of coffee, choosing to become a quasi-liquid that resembles a syrup. It’s wonderful, and if you haven’t had it yet, then you should stop what you’re doing and go buy some. Now. Also, don’t make the same mistake I did and drink the grinds at the bottom of the cup. Unless you really want to get the maximum amount of caffeine you can.

The movie of the night was “Singing in the Rain,” but I opted instead to go to sleep. Hahaha not after that coffee. Leonidas and I just watched the Office for three hours. Then I went to sleep. Ah, sleep. How I love thee.

Now that I’m out of school, the wait between publications should be much shorter, so tune in within the next week for the next establishment!

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