More people than have ever been in Washington, D.C. + the usual number of cabs = no one takes a cab alone.
At Union Station, I was herded into a cab with a man and a woman I assumed were together, since they got out of the same spot in the cab line together. They both looked to be in their 30s or early 40s, and happy to finally have a ride. He got in on the driver's side. I held the passenger's side door for the woman so she could sit next to her husband/boyfriend/brother/secretary.
"Oh, you go ahead," she said, apparently graciously. Except.
Except that when you don't think a pair of people are together (and she could not have thought that he and I were together), that just means you're forcing a stranger into the middle seat, which is just snotty.
So we all get settled into the cab, and she gazes up at the Capitol building and starts making noises about how she doesn't remember the last time she felt good about looking at the Capitol.
"Why?" asks our cab driver, clearly just being playful, clearly not in any way trying to start a fight. "Because of Obama?"
"Yes!" said this woman, who I couldn't place, but who looked familiar. Local newscaster, maybe? Or friend of a friend? Someone's ex-girlfriend? Or maybe she's really, really famous, but looks different in person?
"He's just another man," said the cab driver, still playing.
"Be born in this country and then give me your opinion," she snaps. This is the point at which I decide that if she is someone I sort of know, I am not admitting it to her or anyone. Then, in direct contrast to her previous statement, she said, "It just sends such a great message to the world." I later found out our driver was from Kenya. Who, exactly, is in a better position to know what message this sends to the world?
The very nice man also sharing our cab took that opportunity to ask us all what Broadway shows we'd seen lately, since he knew that the woman (who he'd been talking to in line) is from New York. She hadn't seen much lately, but had opinions on several shows she hadn't seen, including Billy Elliot ("I saw the movie. Dancing's not for boys.") and Hedda Gabler ("Might as well just slit your wrists and be done with it.") When we got to movies, she had seen a few things, and recommended Slumdog Millionaire and The Wrestler, as did the man she was by now clearly not with, who was from L.A.
Our driver dropped her off first, and as she got her luggage out, the nice man's garment bag fell on the ground. "There goes the last crease in the tux," he joked, and he and I started talking about what balls he was going to (several, including the Latino Ball and the Green Ball and one he missed because our train was late, which is too bad, because it cost him $500 and he wasn't even sure the money was going to a good cause) and whether he had tickets for the inauguration (he did, and was picking them up from Sen. Feinstein the next day). He also strongly encouraged me to go to the HRC party the next night, for the season premiere of The L Word, since the HRC ball was sold out and I would have missed it because our train was late even if I had been able to get tickets.
As we got close to his hotel, he chuckled. "Did you recognize her?" he asks, gesturing to my side of the cab, where our cabmate had been sitting.
"Almost," I said. "Is she famous?"
"She's an actress," he said. "Did you watch Sex in the City?"
"Not really," I said. "I sort of hate that show."
"She was Nina Katz," he said. "She dated Aidan, and gave Carrie The Look. She was the booker for Saturday Night Live, Heather Graham's friend."
"Oh, right!" I said, excited because this is actually one of the roughly five episodes I've ever seen, and that is totally who she was. "I think I've seen her in other things, too."
"Yeah," he said. "She's been on a lot of shows. She always plays the rude New Yorker."
"Hm," I said.