Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Natural's Not In It

It was January 1981 and I boarded the bus from Baltimore to D.C. and didn't know any better. Just 17, and a college freshman (you can probably fill in the rest). But we were headed for the Inauguration, just to be there, as witnesses, not even protesters.

Not that we got near anything. We had heard on the radio about the hostages in Iran getting freed, but our minds were as far away from October Surprise theories as we were from the action. Way down the Mall, we could see the Capitol and could imagine what was going on, but we were so close/so far and it seemed mostly unreal. Soon, everyone was leaving, a kind of exodus like one I might imagine a disaster might cause. We tried to cross the Mall, thinking that was our best way out, but mounted police, their helmet's visors drawn so they were faceless, simply pranced their very high horses in front of us. What a powerful silent No.

I didn't know enough to be political yet. I did know I had a huge crush on the woman I went to DC with, and even bought her a NOW bumper-sticker as a way of flirting. Just a week or so prior I opted not to go with her and others to see the Gang of Four in D.C. (a band at the time I liked more to shock others than to get), and I didn't miss this chance. She would be my inaugural college love several months later, when I managed to steal her away from a friend, who the night of the election ran about campus in a straightjacket as a joke about the world gone mad.

Thus dawned the Age of Reagan.


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