Previously — during our Assignment in Washington. . .
H’s plantar fasciitis had been lying low – lulling us into a false sense of security.
One day, in the middle of our gallery hopping, it reappeared with dramatic vengeance. . .
Specifically, in the National Gallery’s West Building. . .
. . .as we headed East to the Edvard Munch exhibit.
Having walked several miles that morning. . .
. . . H seemed to have picked up a pronounced limp . . .
I guess I was distracted by all the art we were passing on the way,
like the pastoral gems from Van Gogh.
In 1888, Vincent was feverishly prolific, fueled by a particularly torturous period.
Speaking of torturous, in the West Gallery, where art from the Middle Ages to the present resides. . .
. . . H and I were making our way to the East Building.
We had just reached the underground cafe bridging the east and west galleries . . .
. . . when H dropped into one of the cafe chairs, and declared herself unable to walk. . .
Most fatefully, she had left her absolutely indispensable Ibuprofen back at the hotel. . .
Paralyzed by her perfidious plantar, H turned pale when I mentioned we were nowhere near any drugstore. Desperate, I began flagging passersby. But of course no one, I mean no one, was carrying around Ibuprofen, a/k/a Motrin a/k/a Advil.
Finally, I thought I struck gold with a docent-in-training who phoned the Gallery’s nurse. It must have been a slow day cause the next person on the scene was Alonzo, introducing himself as Chief of Security. Alonzo kindly listened to our tale of woe, before confirming that, yes indeed, he was not a nurse.
When the nurse finally showed up, she told H she couldn’t dispense any “medication” and anyway, she was only available for the staff. Neither H nor I could convince her to cough up some Ibuprofen, even though H assured her she was not allergic to it. So I’m all like, then why the H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks did anyone call you anyway !!
Meanwhile, I’m guessing a few tears eked their way down H’s cheek. . .
Both Alonzo and the nurse with her bag of drugs made tut-tut noises about how far the nearest drugstore might be. And yes, she nodded sagely, it would probably take me the better part of an hour or two just to make my way out of the sprawling museum, flag a taxi and then traverse the radial-axis challenged DC streets to the nearest drugstore. . .
Another pastel delight from Herr Van Gogh awaiting our meditation.
And double ditto for the dabbled sea strokes . . .
Certain my Vulcan-mind powers might eventually convince the Nurse to cough up some ibuprofen, I was startled to hear a “C’mon!” from a suddenly jittery Alonzo. After unnecessarily telling H to stay put, he waves me through an invisible side exit and down some internal stairs where we emerge into the gallery’s underground garage. Totally flummoxed, I realize Alonzo is about to teleport me to the nearest CVS !! That or I’m being summarily driven to a nearby holding cell due to my unofficial photography of some awesome gallery things.
After we buckle up, Alonzo screeches through a tunnel and into the open air of DC
raising a hand to the parking guards as we rolled out into the real Belly of the Beast:
The Streets of DC !!
Holy Hydraulics, Batman. Alonzo was whipping the wheel, swerving this way and that, around traffic burps and stoppages. With no warning, he violently turned the wheel in a wicked arc and tore down a side road mumbling, “Gotta get off this road !”
Held to the seat by centrifugal force, I said Amen to Alonzo’s racing skills, but I was also silently freaking out. After what seemed like forever, he drops me off in front of a busy CVS and says, You go on in there and get that Motrin and I’ll be waitin’ right here for ya. (You say Motrin, and I say, Advil, let’s call the whole thing freaking awkward . . .)
In retrospect, at one point during the pell mell race, I realized Alonzo had zoomed right past our hotel, where H’s bottle of Advil lay silently, stealthily hidden under heaps of paraphernalia. . . . .
Once in the drugstore,
I did not want to accidentally grab the wrong meds. . .
Not when H’s foot was single-handedly depending on me
and Alonzo’s gas was expelling in the DC atmosphere. . .
But when I finally found the right stuff , there were,
frustratingly, countless people at the counter. . .
Each one looking more desperate than the next . . .
Including an unusually thirsty soldier on leave,
who was buying like 50 cases of Diet Coke.
I’m not exaggerating. Much.
Of course I don’t begrudge our military anything, but his purchase seemed a little extreme (ahem Sari) and out of the corner of my eye I see Alonzo has come in by the front door and he’s now glaring at me while I wait in the insanely long line with the soldier with the thousand cans of diet coke.
Why won’t he get back in his car, I’m screaming in my head. Not the soldier, but Alonzo, I mean.
I also hope his museum badge in his vehicle window means something to DC parking police.
When I finally have the Advil in my hot little hand, Alonzo and I leap back into the car a la Batman and Robin, and I realize how tense I’ve been as I finally unleash my relief about how happy H will be to be reunited with her beloved Advil. . . .
Alonzo saved the day – it would have taken hours before H would have received relief.
In the meantime, like Captain Sully, Alonzo takes no credit for his heroic sacrifice and hair-raising navigation through the streets of DC, and he assures me H will be up and about after popping those “Motrin” tablets . . .
By the time we zip back into his underground parking spot, Alonso offers to take us on an off-the-beaten-path tour of DC when we next return, (including a little place called Dumbarton Oaks, hee) and by now we’ve exchanged our names, addresses, and social security numbers, along with war stories on traveling.
Inside the gallery, we see the pill-carting nurse has left H, who is sadly watching passersby and cafe patrons. When I tried to hand Alonzo a Jefferson or a Jackson for his above and beyond kindness, he laughed heartily and trilled, “Oh no! Forget that ! I’m a civil servant! That’s what we’re here for!” And when he looked like he was going to start slapping my hands, I gave up trying.
What an unbelievable peach! While Alonzo promised to be our tour guide on our next return… I promised myself that I’d be carrying lots of Advil from now on along with every other pill I regularly cart around.
True to form, Alonzo stuck around long enough to watch H pop about 6 of those pills, and
literally seconds later, we both watched as H miraculously popped up and hobbled to the glittery walkway. . .
Mobile once again . . .
Thanks to Alonzo’s business card, we will forward him some
holiday cheer in care of the National Gallery of Art. . .
And that folks, is why some of ’em should be called incredibly civil servants. . .
MODERN ART SIDEBAR
Once upon a time, back in Minneapolis,
while another notable civil servant, a/k/a Flo Jo,
was elegantly ushering us on a Walker Art tour,
I pointed to a Rothko and admitted,
Look, I don’t get some contemporary art.
Like this piece. As a matter of fact, it pisses me off.
Well then, Flo Jo said matter of factly, I guess it’s working . . .
I had to admit, she had a point. . .