Exploits in Washington and the Search for the Pointy Thing

It sounds like the start of a really bad joke.

Q: What happens when you unleash six Texans on Washington DC?

A: [insert conservative Texan stereotype here] [deliver punchline with a distinct drawl] [make sure to include one of the following: guns, dogs, dogs with guns, hats, dogs with guns and hats, boots, cows, dogs and cows wearing hats and boots while holding guns] [finish with a good poke at Liberalism]

I’ll stop now. I suppose I can’t say much. I am, after all, a proud Texan who owns a dog, a hat, boots, and a gun. No cows. But I know where I can find some if the urge strikes.

I shouldn’t perpetuate the Texan stereotype, I know, but I’m willing to bet that “Texans in Washington DC” sparks some kind of mental hilarity for almost everyone who reads it. The reality of our visit to the capital city is almost certainly less amusing than whatever bad joke you have in mind. Nonetheless, our exploits were amusing in their own right.

So… What happens when six Texans go to Washington?

1. They promptly get lost.

In Texas, as in much of the south (where I was born and bred, and thus can comment on with authority), this is how one typically gives directions:

You’re gonna want to walk to the gas station on the corner – the one that used to be the Citgo – and make a right turn onto Smith Lane – but the sign won’t say Smith Lane, it’s going to say Farm Road 1844 and if you get lost you’ll need to tell ’em that you’re looking for Loop 3, because they’re all the same thing – and then after you get onto Smith Lane, keep walking until you see a big tree on your left, by the water tower…

If you’re lucky, all of the landmarks in question still exist. I swear, I’ve been told to drive to where the gas station used to be.

Naturally, we spent a good portion of our time wandering around DC and the University of Maryland completely and utterly lost. On the UMD campus, all of the buildings look exactly the same. I once made a wrong turn trying to get back to our dorms, and upon calling Ganiva to explain my predicament, could only tell her, “well, I’m between a bunch of red brick buildings…. no… I don’t know which ones…”

Luckily, Ariel had her trusty iPad and our trip to the cafe quickly turned into something resembling The Amazing Race: College Edition. (I’d totally watch that show.)

2. They claim the land as their own.

“I hereby claim this patch of sidewalk in the name of Texas!”
The Nation of Texas expands into the northern territories.

Actually, I think that this arm waving might have been prompted by me asking a random question about cartwheels.

But claiming the land for the great Nation of Texas sounds like so much more fun. But even if we don’t claim the land, Texans visiting anywhere know that there is one requirement that can not be avoided. When Texans go traveling…

3. They search for things that might be bigger than they are in Texas.

This is a tree. We don’t have these in Texas.
If there were turtles this big wandering around Texas, I’m sure there would be a hunting season for them.

It’s like we feel it is our duty to locate anything that could infringe upon the idea that everything is bigger in Texas. Naturally, once we’ve located this giant objects, we promptly pose with them. It’s all a part of our secret plot to relocate them to a small town off I-35 and turn them into a tourist attraction. “Come see Manny, the giant turtle! Biggest in the world!”

I don’t know why the turtle in this scenario is named Manny. Just go with it.

4. They take a lot of pictures. Of each other. Taking pictures. Of each other.

Thing 1
Thing 2
Crikey! It’s a photographer in her natural habitat! We’ll have to walk quietly or she’ll steal our soul with her magic picture machine.

I never go anywhere without my camera. As it turned out, Christine’s camera was nearly identical to mine. This resulted in the two of us taking dozens of pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. It also resulted in mild annoyance  from everyone around us as we slowly morphed into Thing 1 and Thing 2 – the camera paparazzi twins.

We took, between the two of us, 608 photos.  I think there may be a program for people like us. I’ll research it just as soon as I can pull myself away from photoshop editing the pictures we took.

5. They recruit new Texans.

Hint: Only 5 of the people in this photo are from Texas. We started our evening out with just the six of us, but – perhaps because of our undeniable Texas charm, or perhaps because we were just the loudest, craziest group in the crowd – by the time we got to dinner, we’d collected five more people.

The one in the back wearing the white t-shirt is Tabitha. She grew up barely ten minutes from me in Newton, North Carolina… and we’d never met before.

We, of course, invited everyone to come to Texas at their earliest convenience. They were all such great women, we knew we wanted them playing for our team.

6. They assert their Texanism.

Christine, Ariel, Chi, and Me with keynote speaker and UT Austin grad, Shelby Knox

Asserting one’s Texanism can be done in many ways. Flashing the Longhorn hand symbol is a quick and efficient way to let people know you’re a proud Texan. So is squealing with delight when you find the Texas statue in the WWII memorial. Not that I would do that. Then, there is the ever popular shouting, clapping, whooping, and hollering when the keynote speaker says that she went to UT.

Longhorns REPRESENT!

7. They practice their performance skills.

Here, for example, MinAe, Ariel, Chi, and Christine pose as four of the lesser known dwarves: Yawney, Pouty, Smiley, and Bored.

This could also be attributed to the fact that I’d been snapping photos for fifteen minutes straight. But I prefer to think of it as creative performance art.

8. Most importantly, when Texans go traveling, they Search for the Pointy Thing.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Washington Monument. We all know that, of course. And yet, as we walked around DC downtown, we made a conscious effort to “locate the big  pointy thing.” And thus, the Washington Monument was called “the big pointy thing” all night long.

Why, you ask, would Texans do this? Why would we call such a lovely monument by such a name? And why would we care where the pointy thing was located?

It didn’t dawn on me until the next day.

See, at UT, we have this tower. You might have heard of it. There was a sniper there about forty years ago and we haven’t ever lived it down. If you go to UT, you spend a good portion of your day orienting to the tower. When giving directions on campus, you do it in relationship to the tower. Lost? Not if you can see the tower from where you’re standing. And if you happen to forget that the tower is there, bells ring from it every fifteen minutes.

We LOVE our towers.

Naturally, when we find ourselves in an unfamiliar place, the first thing we do is look for a point of reference. The tallest building. Doesn’t matter what it is, so long as it’s tall. And pointy. It is, from there on out, the pointy thing and it is how we find our way around.

When Chi, Ariel, and Tabitha got separated from Ganiva, MinAe, Christine and I as we walked around Washington DC at 1:30 in the morning, the first thing we did was to call them up and ask “Can you see the pointy thing? We’re in front of the White House, and it’s behind us here.”

I’m sure George wouldn’t mind his monument being referred to as the big pointy thing.

Just as long as we didn’t leave out the “big.”

We did, by the way, eventually find each other. And we stayed out until nearly 2:30, running from monument to monument, snapping pictures, and slowly growing delirious. By the following morning, my feet felt as if someone had taken a two by four to them.

But it was TOTALLY worth it. I haven’t had so much fun in a long time. Or so many pictures.



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