I live about an hour and a half from Washington DC. I rarely make it up there, but my cousin was in from Chicago for a conference, so Owen and I took the Metro in. I could write an entire post about our experiences there, but Unknown Mami asked us to write about our own city, and I must confess that DC is not really my city. We're tourists. See? Requisite picture of us posing awkwardly in front of the original Smithsonian:
Owen is holding a three dollar bouncy-ball from the Museum of Natural History. I believe it has a Wildebeast on it. This was a bribe to keep him pleasant, despite the noise and crowds and the terrifying amount of taxidermy.
Anyway, enough of that city, and on to my city: Prince Frederick, Maryland. We did what every red-blooded American chooses to do on a rainy Saturday morning: stand in line to get the vaccine for H1N1 or as I, (thanks to Amalah) like to think of it, Hamthrax.
Fearing the worst, I arrived at 7:30 AM. The clinic officially opened at 9:00 AM. The plan was that I would hold the line, and Paul would meet me with the boys closer to 9:00. Apparently, I'm not the only brilliant person, because the line was already two rows deep by the time I arrived. I thought I was prepared with my coffee, umbrella and newspaper, but the earlier arrivals were practically tailgating. There were camping chairs. Snacks. Computer games. I even saw one woman in a Snuggie. A leopard print one no less. I was both envious AND jealous.
Naturally, it was raining just enough to be annoying. I had no chair, so I could either read the paper, or be dry, but not both. I found myself huddling under my blue and yellow umbrella, thinking of cleaver puns. I thought that the line was...
I was very pleased with myself.
At one point, I smelled the familiar odor of cigarette smoke. Seriously. Seriously? We're in a line full of children, pregnant women, and seriously ill adults, and we're going to light up? I'm all for the right to do what you want to your own body, but come on. I locked eyes with another woman, and she said, "Yeah, I smell it too."
I said, "What an asshole."
A third woman added, "Ummmm-hmmmmmmm!"
And, just like that, I was among friends. Nothing like mutual disdain to bring a group together.
Eventually, the CDC ladies gathered my information, and I called Paul and told him that it was time to load up the boys and meet up.
This is what he saw as he parked his car:
My cousin, who was with us, commented, "Very Soviet Block, yes?"
I replied with, "Yes! It's pandamnit-- fantastic." Damn! After all that internal rehearsal, I blew it! My chance at brilliance, thwarted! Paul and my cousin both looked at me blankly and I was grateful that the line started moving forward.
And waited a bit more:
It was a lot like Disneyland, except that you get a shot in the leg at the end of the line. We waited in one line, filled out forms, and went to another line to verify the information on the forms. We finally staggered into the third line/room, which looked like this:
Owen got the mist, and he hung out reasonably well most of the time. Therefore, this was not super-traumatizing for him. Joel, on the other hand, got a shot in the leg and a very short leash. He was less than thrilled.
What did we learn from all this? A lot of people love their kids. That's the only reason one would put up with such nonsense, even efficient and well-organized nonsense. You love your kids, you want them healthy, so you'll sit in the rain with a loving tribe, and make the best of it. Even if making the best of it means bribes of Pumpkin Muffies at Panera for being good:
And just because this picture is too funny.... Behold! My neighbor's chicken!