So this week I reached into the giant stack of old schoolwork and other papers that my parents sent me several years ago. This time I pulled out a contribution to that great American literary genre, the epistolary road trip memoir:
So what we have here is a letter I wrote to my paternal grandmother, AKA Nana, when I was eight years old, filling her in on very important details of our trip to Washington, DC. We have been in the Washington Monument. We have seen the Potomac River. We have not been in the Potomac River, apparently. (With me around, you could never be sure who might end up falling into what.)
Contact information? Check.
Review of accommodations? Check.
Helpful pronunciation guide to stuffed animal names? Check. (Incidentally, I still have Orphan Orange, who is not to be confused with Orphan Black. Just don’t ask me which one “Phimebage” was.)
Emergency vehicle activity report? Check.
Wildlife survey? Check.
Of course, one Very Important Question is left unaddressed by this otherwise very thorough travelogue: Who plugged the toilet? I have my suspicions, but 40 years later, nothing can be proven …
Oddly enough, despite this very promising early start, I never did get a job as, say, a travel reporter for some Conde Nast property. Perhaps if we’d had Instagram then, a camera phone photo of the overflowing toilet would have gone viral. Stranger things have happened.
Incidentally, there was at one point an important overflowing toilet-related plot point in the novel I’m currently working on, Father’s Books. Inspired by this trip perhaps? Ehh, probably not. Anyway, I cut the scene so it’s no longer really relevant. But let’s just say it involved flushing something that is not meant to be flushed.
Is that what happened in Washington, D.C. back in 1978?
The world will never know …