Kittie and I slept in the next morning. Years of being awakened at 5:30 a.m. by Homeless-I mean Homeland-Security, had taken its toll on us both. It felt great to sleep in until 10:30. While she took a shower, I hiked a few blocks up New York Avenue to McDonald’s, to grab breakfast and more importantly, coffee. I dropped by the motel lobby to pay for an extension on our room. I noticed a rack along the wall behind me, full of brochures about restaurants and tourist attractions in the District and its suburbs. I grabbed a Park Service brochure about the Washington Monument and headed back to our
Kittie was getting dressed as I slid the keycard through the lock. Since she was out of the
bathroom, I put breakfast and the brochure on the bed, and took the op- portunity to hop in the
shower. The coffee, alas, did not survive the trip back, but my caffeine addiction was sated.
The warm water felt good against my bare skin in the shower. Just as I was reaching for the soap, I
heard the bath- room door open. I stuck my head out to see Kittie flipping through the brochure.
She waltzed right over to the toilet and plopped down to do her business. I don’t think she ever learned the meaning of the word “modesty,”go figure.
“Hey Bill, get this,” she chimed, pausing to light a cigarette, “did you know that the Washington
Monument was supposed to be a statue of a horse?”
“Really?” I replied, “Didn’t that wind up at Washington Circle, a couple blocks from Miriam’s?” “Probably, there are so many statues in this town, who can keep track?” she answered. “Turns out
before it was built, Congress was wowed by the designs of some guy named Robert Mills, especially
after he designed a column in Baltimore dedicated to George.”
“Congress waffling on an issue, who’da thunk it?” I quipped, scrubbing soap on my skin.
“Yeah, well, get this,” she continued, “Mills’ original plans included a circular mausoleum at the
base of the monument. I think they were gonna dig George up and rebury him there.”
“Considering they all but made him a demigod, it wouldn’t surprise me,” I said.
“What made them come to their senses?”
“Same thing that makes anyone do any- thing in this town,” she responded, “money, or in this
case, the lack of it.”
“Guess budget cuts dug deep even back then,” I mused.
“Yeah, guess so,” she shrugged. “Get this, on Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan for the city, the
monument was supposed to be 350 feet northwest of where it is now.” “Why the change?” I asked,
rinsing the soap off of me.
“You know how you’re always talking about how this city was built over a swamp? Turns out the
ground at the planned site couldn’t support the weight of a marker Thomas Jefferson placed there
during his presidency, much less the monument itself,” she answered. “Here take this.”
Her hand thrust into the shower, holding half of a still-lit cigarette. I grabbed it with one hand, turning off the water with the other. I took a couple of drags from it, waiting for her to finish so I could dry off. The flush of the toilet then told me my wait was over.
(to be continued)