Quick, How Many Smithsonian Air & Space Museums Are There?
Well, my friends, I had hoped to provide you with a dispatch about the Washington, D.C., performance of painter Michael Israel, an awe-inspiring, mulleted dude who was booked to speed-paint a portrait of Barack Obama at an inaugural ball called the Virginia Black Tie and Blue Dominion Ball. Virginia Gov. -- and soon-to-be Democratic National Committee Chair -- Tim Kaine was listed as an invited guest! Actress Jenna Elfman was going to be there! So was Jasmine Guy! Not to mention an Olympic Medalist in fencing and a real-live astronaut, Buzz Aldrin.
I donned my gala ball gown, headed to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, checked my coat, and was moving toward the champagne flutes when a sweet young lady with a chirpy Southern accent handed me a program. Which welcomed me to... the South Carolina Presidential Inaugural Ball. Most famous name on the ticket: Sen. Lindsey Graham. A Republican in a town where Republicans are not exactly being celebrated at this moment. Turns out, Michael Israel and friends were at the other Smithsonian Air & Space Museum -- the one in Chantilly, Virginia. 40 miles away. It would probably take an hour or two in inauguration traffic, and God knows how much cab fare.
Like Forrest Gump, I stumbled my way into good fortune, sampled the hors d'oeuvres, snapped some pictures...
... and headed to the five-star Hay Adams Hotel, where the Obamas had been staying since New Year's. Wouldn't you know it, on the way there, guess who drove past me in an approximately 20-car motorcade?
Because the Hay Adams has an intimate little basement bar called Off the Record, I thought it might be a great place to interrogate bartenders about the Obamas. ("Well, can you tell me off the record?") But if they knew anything, they weren't telling. And when it was time to leave, the attentive concierge not only called a cab -- he put us in a golf cart and drove us to the corner to catch it.
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