Saturday, January 26, 2008

A national hero

I had the privilege of being in Washington, DC this week - a 24-hour business trip to accept an award on behalf of this fair city. My sister and her family live nearby, so she and I arranged to have lunch together. I knew I would still have the afternoon to myself, and was trying to decide which of the DC sights to take in. Did I want to navigate the National Holocaust Museum? Was there an exhibit I was aching to see at the Museum of National History? I had just finished reading the book about the Julie/Julia Project, so maybe I would head over the Museum of American History to see Julia Child's kitchen.

When I finally rendevoused with my sister in Alexandria (VA), the location of her office, she informed me that she had the rest of the afternoon off. She asked if I wanted to go to the National Portrait Gallery - long closed for renovations - to see a portrait of Gen X's national hero, Stephen Colbert, now hanging right outside the Hall of Presidents. So, we zipped back into the City, grabbed a quick noodle lunch in Chinatown, and then headed over to the Gallery.

Having never been in this Museum, we stopped at the information desk and asked where we could find the Hall of Presidents. The docent smiled at us, and noticing our generation slouched lazily around our shoulder, asked what we were here to see. "The Stephen Colbert portrait," I replied, slightly ashamed of my obvious fandom and lack of interest in the real art hanging in this hallowed hall. "Go through the courtyard, up the stairs to the second floor, take a right, and stop at the restrooms," she said. "Okay," I said hesitantly, thinking "How did she know I needed to use the bathroom?" And off we went, joyfully on our slacker adventure.

As we turned right towards the Hall of Presidents, we saw the sign for the bathroom. We approached and both started giggling, seeing Colbert's portrait within a portrait, once hanging on the interview side of the set of his show, hanging between the men's and women's room door, ceremoniously over the gold plated water fountains. Perfect.

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