I have fled the District of Columbia. Fled.
Where am I? Sitting in a restaurant in Sag Harbor. Why am I in Sag Harbor during the winter, let alone Inauguration? Well, for one thing, we are wearing sweaters and it looks like a Tommy Hilfiger ad. And two, I still haven’t recovered from the last Inauguration.
Now, don’t get me wrong – witnessing the historic Inauguration of Barrack Hussein Obama is an experience that I wouldn’t change for the world. It was amazing. People were moved. Strangers came together in a way not often witnessed inside the beltway. It made the glow of election night look like child’s play.
But as I worked my way out of the Inauguration crowd before the event was actually over (so I could make it home before the 1.8 million people tried to move at the same time) I realized there were some things Aaron Sorkin forgot to tell me.
1) Inauguration happens at the coldest possible time of year. And it…is…cold.
Like really cold. William Henry Harrison actually died from his Inauguration. On The West Wing, President Bartlet complains that his Inauguration Chairman canceled the parade because it was too cold and that people should all basically suck it up. What he fails to mention is that the President waits inside a warm building for most of the day, besides for the brief period when he has to walk to and from the car. Do you know what the masses are doing while he is oh so warm? Standing outside in freezing weather! And not just for a little while like the special people who get to sit on the stage near the heaters; no, we stood outside for hours. I lined up to get into the security line at 5:00am. Why? Because Inauguration started at 10:00am and that is how much time it took to get through security. Do you know how many layers of clothes you have to wear to stay warm at 5:00am in the middle of January? I was wearing long-johns, tights, jeans, four shirts, a down vest, two pairs of socks and gloves, a cashmere coat and I had hand warmers! And even if you were up early and stood in line in the cold and had 15 layers of clothes on, you could have ended up in a line to nowhere or in the purple ticket tunnel of doom and missed the whole thing anyway.
2) There is a literal crush of humanity.
People are everywhere and I mean everywhere. You know how they show Times Square on New Year’s Eve and it is just a sea of people? It was just like that. Our shining city on a hill has around 600,000 residents and this does not include students, Hill staffers who still pretend to live in their home districts, and the surrounding suburbs. Not to mention that there are VIPs left and right. It’s the largest concentration of celebrities outside of the Golden Globes, or Brooklyn. Don’t even get me started on the number of world leaders who descend on the city. So when you add 1.8 million people plus everyone on the planet who has a security team in 10 square miles, it gets real. The Metro is so rammed with people that not even vigilante justice can save you. Every street is shut down at some point. Suddenly, your favorite restaurant has a two hour wait, there are so many Porta Johns there is an app to help you locate one, and there is a very real possibility that your local grocery store will run out of bacon. The fact that Josh, Danny, Charlie, and Will were even able to get a cab on from an Inaugural Ball to Donna’s house is an actual miracle. Which leads me to my next point.
3) Inaugural Balls
Thanks to Ticketmaster, tickets for the President’s Ball are now almost impossible to get. Way to go guys, way to go. On The West Wing Inaugural balls look like a PoliSci major’s fairy tale. There is dancing! There is a live swing band! There is a very real possibility that White House staffers will show up at your house and demand you traipse around town going to 10 different balls with them. And (score!) you might get to sit on Joshua Malina’s lap! But unless you are the Deputy Chief of Staff, Inaugural Balls can be a letdown. Did you know it costs money to get into an Inaugural Ball? And there is a cash bar? And really everyone is just waiting around to see what the first lady is wearing and not dancing at all? Where is my PoliSci fairy tale????
So while President Obama takes the oath of office, I will take another oath. I, Stefanie Lorraine Boltz, will never go to another Inauguration again, unless it’s that of a certain Hilary Rodham Clinton.
Featured image via ShutterStock