I took my daughter on a mini vacation to D.C. recently because the need for a cultural injection can get overwhelming when you live in a place known as Tidewater.
I'm not quite sure that's what we got, though, thanks to the fat app. Some time ago Zara was given an iPod. I'm not sure if this is the right term. It's like an iPhone that you can't make calls on but you can do some kind of face time as well as playing the obligatory games.
I didn't think much about it as we left the camp ground and prepared to get our culture vulture wings out. It's funny because I have backpacked around Europe in the harshest of circumstances but as soon as I go sightseeing again I revert to being the worst kind of tourist. The middle aged, efficient woman at the camp ground explained meticulously how to use the bus passes which were also train passes and handed me a leaflet giving clear instructions on how to get into D.C. Still I found myself switching into tourist mode - a pose which involves one hanging out tongue, a slight lisp and cricked neck and obvious questions such as "Is that the bus?" while pointing to a stretchy out sort of vehicle that looked very bus-like.
Once we got to D.C., Zara got all excited about the first monument she saw - some general on a horse on a big plinth and proceeded to take 100 pictures of it and then lost interest.
Undeterred, we pressed on to the Natural History Museum. Zara was briefly interested by the Sponge Bob letter box before disappearing into iPod world. The pouncing stuffed tiger and giant whale got her off it for a short time - not so much the talk about evolution which explained how humans are descended from a rat-like creature called Morgie. The narrator may not have realized the profound effect of that unfortunate name of our great grandmother x million years ago. Morgie was the name of the small girl who released Zara's prize balloon at her fifth birthday and was hitherto shunned for the rest of her existence. Just the mere mention of the name was enough to reawaken ancient horrors - a bit like Palestine. But different, really.
Still there was plenty of time for us to realize that the Washington Monument is a lot further away that it looks and the Lincoln Memorial is even further away than that. The memorial held some interest until Zara found the fat app.
As we are ascending the escalator she is saying : "fat, fat, fatty fatty fat." into the microphone and playing it back into am image of her face with an extra 200 pounds and a wagging tongue in a small mouth hole in the vast expanse of errr fat.
"If you upgrade you'll get another 400 pounds with pustules and break-outs," she is telling me.
"No thanks. Let's save the dwindling account for Starbucks."
A woman at the monument looked less than impressed at the prospect of pustules. Lincoln himself looked rather stony faced, although I am guessing that's the way he looks anyhow.
Still we pressed on against the odds. At the National Museum of American History I tried to describe the significance of the Greensboro lunch counter but by this time Zara has got hold of the old person booth and was proceeding to give herself extra lines and gray hair.
On the way back we sat on the subway train next to a woman who was probably pushing 400 pounds, albeit minus the breakouts. Zara reached for the IPod. I broke into a nervous sweat.