Essays · Uncategorized

$pring Break 2k16: The Kiddos of Destiny take D.C. Part 6: Blood and Ice Cream

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This piece is probably rated PG, but as you well know, my humor can be borderline. Is it worth the risk of losing your immortal soul in hell fire to continue reading this? You decide. 

3/22/16: A Tuesday

There are many horrific places to wake up. I’d imagine if one went to sleep in their nice soft bed in middle-class suburbia and awoke to the sound of air raid sirens, and realized they were lying in a creek in 1940, London, they would be slightly distressed. Not only are all of your friends not born yet, but you are also soaking wet, cold, and in fear of the Blitz. Also, lots of British food is rather strange to American palates, so if you are picky, I’d imagine the fear of finding proper food would drown all other fears out.

Another terrible place one could wake up might be on a sinking rowboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by coworkers who do the bare minimum. You’d say something like “Quick! Everyone grab a bucket and bail the boat out!” and your coworkers would mosey around, kicking puddles with a look of boredom on their faces as the dorsal fins of death circle your final resting place.

Actually, the more I think about it, there are probably more bad places to wake up than good ones. For every nice comfortable bed, there has to be several hundred concrete squares in a war torn city. If you woke up in any place, at any time, the chances are very good that the situation would be horrific, or at least mildly uncomfortable.

On this Tuesday, Leonidas woke up in a strange place. Leonidas, if you don’t recall, is my pet tiger that I adopted in Washington D.C. It wasn’t a horrific place, like a creek during the Blitz, but it wasn’t a nice place, like a Swedish resort with pet goats. Leonidas didn’t choose to sleep in this place, but he isn’t that strong, so when Danielle kidnapped him the evening before, he couldn’t escape her manic grip. You see, Danielle put Leonidas in a box of tampons.

Look, it’s really immature to be terrified of tampons, so that’s not what this is about. I was just disgusted that someone would tigernap Leonidas and hide him from me. She thought I would be horrified in one way, but horrified me in another way, by separating me from my loved one. When I found him, his eyes were wide open, stuck in a dazed gaze of shock. I’m surprised he ever recovered, due to the severity of this ordeal. Regardless, after I talked to him for a minute, we both decided it would be best for him to take the day off from exploring, so I stashed him in the basement, hidden where Danielle “Jezebel” Lisk would never find him.

As was promised, breakfast consisted solely of ice cream. We had something like five kinds, but I believe my breakfast consisted of a fairly even distribution of both mint chocolate chip and coffee, side by side.

Growing up is weird, because of the extremes that come with freedom. For example, as a child, breakfast was probably consistent. Cereal one day, eggs the next, with a smattering of pancakes or waffles on the weekends or holidays. Nothing too out of the ordinary, most likely. As an adult though, you can have literally whatever you want for breakfast. Would you like ice cream at 8AM? That’s fine. Mac and Cheese on top of chocolate doughnuts? Be your own guest. Black tar heroin? That’s a little bit fratty, but the world is your oyster, so tighten your belt and do your thing.

Parents and teachers, you’ll be relieved that between these option, the KIDDOS chose to eat ice cream, and temporarily forego mac and cheese, donuts, and illicit drugs. After this we all decided to go to the Holocaust museum (third time’s the/a charm), as Melissa had purchased our free tickets early in the morning. I say purchased our free tickets, because each one cost $1 in service fees. Real quick question for all kindergarteners reading this (your parents should probably watch you more closely): If something costs $1, is it free? No? Are you sure? Because, if that’s the case, then the curators of this museum ARE LIARS.

Before we drove to the museum, we decided that we did not have enough things, and went to the biggest thrift store I’ve ever been to. If the inhabitants of Rhode Island gave up all their worldly possessions, and put them in a nice warehouse, then that would be this thrift store. As with any thrift store, I immediately went to the book section. I realize the merit of other sections of the thrift store, but I don’t want more clothes, furniture, or assorted junk. I just want more books, and I will almost always find something worth my money.

I don’t really understand how so many good books get at thrift stores. This means that A.) Someone didn’t have time to read a book, and just donated it because they somehow knew that they would never ever have time to read the book before they died, B.) Someone got a book, either as a gift or in some strange book winning lottery that they didn’t want, and decided not to broaden their horizons by reading it, or C.) Someone died and their living relatives were idiots. I don’t really mind which of these three possibilities is the right one, as long as I get books for ridiculous prices.

The danger with the prices of thrift stores is how many books one can buy with a few paltry dollars. I think I spent $40 (a ludicrous sum at a thrift store, for those reading in the future where money is worthless and used primarily as insulation) and got around 20 or 25 books. Over the whole trip, I bought around 45 books, which is a problem. I easily spent $100 on used and clearance books. My parents would be horrified if they knew of this sum, probably saying something like “You could have spent this money on something better, like your college education or a few tanks of gas.” If they said that, I’d probably respond with something like “Yes, but I could also have bought drugs or illegal weapons, so count your blessings.”

As has been previously mentioned, Shea gave up buying books for Lent, so he was in constant pain the whole time, humming Sufjan Stevens lyrics to soothe his troubled soul. Everyone else found some clothes, cooking ware, and other assorted odds and ends, and we left the thrift store with our wallets emptier but our arms full of material goods.

After leaving the thrift store, we headed to my car, already mildly hungry. Apparently ice cream for breakfast isn’t the most nutritious meal one can consume, so maybe our parents were on to something. “We can eat there!” said Melissa, pointing at a peeling, dilapidated vehicle which rested in the shadow of Unique Thrift. The truck vaguely resembled what many call a “Food Truck,” complete with a cracking menu pasted on its side, and four partially inflated tires. As much fun as eating some local food that contained E. Coli might have been, we persuaded Melissa away from this option, and vowed to eat immediately after the Holocaust museum, preferably from some place which had seen Windex since Y2K.

The Holocaust museum, as with the majority of museums, battleships, and high school locker rooms, is really too large to take in over the course of one day. It’s three floors of news reels, photographs, scale models, journals, and so much more, all documenting the exclusion and eventual genocide of the Jews, Poles, and other minority groups across Europe. In addition,  as wonderful as dark humor might be, perhaps jokes about the holocaust museum should be avoided, at least in this article.

I’ll really only mention one thing about the museum, and that has to do with tourists that were in line just ahead of us. The tourists were your typical Americans: white, middle-class, and out of shape, but that wasn’t my primary source of disgust. The real kicker was the adornment of their heads with paraphernalia proclaiming “TRUMP 2016” and “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.” There are three reasons for my disgust in these people.

First, it’s rude to wear hats inside. It lacks respect, and in such a place as the Holocaust Museum, I think even more respect should be shown than normal. Also, why are you wearing a hat with a visor inside? Are the fluorescent lights just beating down on your brow, bringing out the sweat of a day laborer in the air conditioned hallway? I am almost positive that you will not get a sunburn from the dim lights that pock the ceilings.

Second, they were supporting Donald Trump, who, despite being the current Republican nominee (and, quite possibly, the next POTUS), is not someone I think anyone should openly endorse. Sure, you can vote for him, saying he’s the lesser of two evils, but to openly declare to the whole world that you support a waffling, egotistical, racist scumbag? That might be a step too far. But, to each his own.

Third, and this will undoubtedly be the paragraph upon which someone tries to start a Facebook debate, Donald Trump and his obvious racism is rather similar to the same racism that the victims of the Holocaust underwent. The Jews, just like the modern day muslims in America, were blamed for the loss of jobs, and the general downward spiral of the country and economy. Just like in Nazi Germany, Donald Trump has suggested badges for the Muslims, as well as a database to track them. These are just two, very minor similarities in the two men, but they’re enough. Everyone knows of Trump’s open hatred for Muslims, and wearing gear proclaiming his name and motto into the holocaust museum is just short of goose-stepping into the museum with one arm raise at a 45 degree angle singing “Die Fahne Hoch.” But please, argue with me on Facebook. I won’t even humor you and respond, but maybe someone else will.

After our bold sortie into the museum, we decided it was in our best interest to eat, and so headed back towards Gaithersburg. All five KIDDOS were under the impression that we had dinner plans with the Halls at home, to eat dinner at this place called Joe’s Noodle House in Rockville, Maryland. What we had there though, was a failure to communicate. You see, while we five understood that we were all to meet at Joe’s circa 6:30 that evening, the other Halls had understood that we were not doing that. Now everyone knows teenage guys are the best at communicating with other people, so clearly, the problem was not on Jon’s end. At the same time, the Hall parents seemed to me perfectly rational humans, incapable of making a flawed decision. This leaves only one viable option: a third party saboteur, intent on ruining our night out, or maybe, more specifically, Danielle’s night out.

Give me a second to explain, and please, keep an open mind. If you’ll recall, at the beginning of this marvelous chapter of the KIDDOS $pring Break, Leonidas was kidnapped by none other than Danielle, and placed in a dark container. Leonidas hasn’t ever directly come out and said he’s afraid of the dark, but I’m pretty sure he is. Being in a dark, enclosed space for an extended amount of time, then, might be a rather harrowing experience. Oftentimes, when creatures are put through have harrowing experiences by other creatures, the first creatures will want revenge on the second creatures. I think this may be what happened on that fateful Tuesday, and I present this to the Hall parents to explain the miscommunication between the two parties. Somehow, using the wile he learned in the jungles of Russia, Leonidas managed to cross wires, in order to teach Danielle a lesson. Will Danielle learn from this lesson? Undoubtedly not. In fact, once she gets back to the States and reads this piece, her anger towards Leonidas might increase, and a real Romeo and Juliet story might play out. I’m talking Capulets vs. Montagues, not anything romantic. That play is a horrid tragedy that demonstrates why teenagers dating is the worst idea, and really doesn’t have that much to do with love. Juliet is 13. 13 years old people. Dear lord. To clarify, Danielle and Leonidas won’t fall in love, but they very well might fall into chaos, desperately making alliances with friends until they both die, never having accomplished anything worthwhile due to their intense hatred of each other.

Man, that last paragraph went strange places very quickly. Like a runaway train headed to Waco circa early 1993. Anyways, the KIDDOS arrived at Joe’s Noodle House quite in advance of the rest of the Hall party, craving food like a male ginger craves human love. Unlike a male ginger, we would get our wish. After what felt like several summer months of waiting, the Hall parents arrived, and ordered food. I feel like I spend at least three or four paragraphs every one of these serials describing food, but I don’t really remember what we had to eat specifically. I’m sure some people read these stories solely for my food descriptions, so I apologize to you for skimping on these this go-round. Go read a Brian Jacques Redwall book if you really want food descriptions. Unless Jon used his father’s government involvement to create a fake restaurant and took the time to craft a website for this fake restaurant, I am fairly certain you can just go there. I would recommend it.

I am not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but from day one of our trip, Danielle and Melissa were considering nose piercings. The very first night, they made a pros and cons list on the white board wall in the Hall basement. A couple of the cons (put forth by myself) included facial paralysis (which is very much a myth,) and the possibility that “Clark might not like them.” I was honored to be a part of a “Con Column,” but I think this addition to that column had more to do with humoring me than actually being a decision making device. Earlier on this fateful Tuesday, both of them had decided they were going to do it. Now, I wasn’t really aware that the intention to get piercings wasn’t common knowledge at the dinner table, so when Mr. and Mrs. Hall asked what our plans were for the rest of the evening, I responded “I think we’re going to go somewhere downtown and Danielle and Melissa are-“

It was at this moment that I noticed the intense glares from the other four KIDDOS. It’s incredible how much a look can say. Some looks say “I really want to spend the rest of my life with you,” or “Thank you for being such a good friend,” or “Clark, realize that although you might be the most capable in a street fight, it’s four of us against you, and if you ruin this, we will kill you and discard your corpse in an alley.” It was the latter of these thoughts that the KIDDOS all shot my way midway through my rambling sentence, and I quickly realized that I must backtrack.

“Going, uh, downtown to grocery shop. For food and stuff. Items. But, not anyth-“

“We’re just going to look around” said Jon, swooping in like a superhero to save me from my bumbling words. After we finished at the restaurant, we all headed out to find a certain tattoo parlor that one of Jon’s sisters recommended to us. It was in the middle of D.C., so the best way to park was to… PARALLEL PARK.

This paragraph is, of course, entitled “Jon’s Second Parallel Parking Job,” and it is considerably shorter than the last paragraph about Jon and parallel parking. Jon set the car up, turned the wheel, eased the car backwards, turned the wheel once more, and eased into the parking spot. 1 for 2 Jon. That’s better than Germany has done in World Wars so far.

We walked up to the tattoo parlor, and saw that it was up a very narrow flight of stairs. One typically doesn’t see flights of stairs like this except in episodes of CSI or Criminal Minds, so I was understandably worried about our situation. Once we got inside however, it was much nicer than the outside hinted. I didn’t remember what the shop was called, and when I texted the KIDDOS, Jon replied “No Idea,” so I guess that was what it was called. “No Idea Tattoos” or something like that. The artists inside were incredibly nice, and very skilled, and even allowed me to film the whole thing for “Clarkumentary,” a documentary about my college experience, and maybe my life afterwards. Release date: Sometime.

Danielle got her nose pierced first, and it was a fairly quick process. The tattooist marked her nose with a pen, and then used a hole punch or something to pierce the nose. I don’t think it was actually a hole punch, but that sounds way more dramatic, so that’s what I’m going with.

After Danielle, Melissa was up. The same process happened: Pen, Punch, and then, lots of bleeding. In an effort to recreate some Hollywood cinematic masterpiece like 300 or maybe Jaws, the tattoo artist had apparently struck the nasal equivalent of the jugular. Melissa, being the hero she is, kept assuring Jon that she definitely wasn’t about to pass out, despite closing her eyes, and slurring her words a little bit. At this moment, Danielle went from feeling kinda crappy to borderline dying, and I quickly grabbed her wrist to check her pulse. Apparently, everyone else thought I was being kind and comforting a friend, so I just let them think that. Melissa recovered after a few more minutes, and we all walked back to the car, Jon leading Melissa carefully down the narrow stairs.

I drove home, silently hoping that someone would bleed on my seats in order to prove an alibi for… um, something unrelated. Forget about it. We managed to make it home without being involved in any massive car wrecks or even any fender benders, and had ice cream again. You could have a horrific day, complete with man-eating carnivores, speeding tickets, and helium-filled balloons that you accidentally let go of, but as long as the day was book-ended with ice cream, the day would kinda be alright. Think about the worst day you ever had, and imagine that you had ice cream for breakfast and dinner. That day would have been better, unless you were lactose intolerant. In that case, your day would have actually been worse.

Knowing that we had to leave very early the next morning, the KIDDOS all retired (to sleep, not to cease working and rely on savings to survive and have fun until our inevitable deaths).

THUS CONCLUDES THE LAST DAY IN WASHINGTON DC FOR THE KIDDOS OF DESTINY. TUNE IN NEXT TIME TO HEAR OF THE INCREDIBLY FASCINATING CAR RIDE TO NASHVILLE AND THE EXPLOITS OF THE KIDDOS THEREIN.

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