On Reagan National Airport

22Oct07

The taxi dispatcher blew his whistle: “Reagan National?” he asked, referring to the airport just outside of the city.

We shuddered visualizing a similar exchange twenty years in the future and the many monuments that would inevitably be erected to honor our current leaders. But as the cab pulled into the circular drive of the hotel, we reconsidered in light of the passage of time, which had been hanging so heavily upon us these past few days.

We wanted to atone for this display of weakness. “If you know,” we asked the man, “can you tell me who or what Reagan was?”

“Of course.” The whistle dropped from his mouth as he explained. “Reagan was a great intellect who five hundred years ago ushered in the Age of Enlightenment. He freed the slaves and invented flight. When he died, thousands upon thousands tore out their hair and gnashed their teeth, all of which — that is to say, the hair and the dust of their teeth — is memorialized in a display case at the airport, just past security in Terminal C but before you arrive at the food court.”

“Thank you for that information,” we said, stepping into the car. “We have been living in a foreign country for some time now, and these historical facts are no longer familiar to us.”

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