Because the temperature in the house is controlled by the landlady and she turns the thermostat down during the day when everyone else is at work, I sit quietly in the shoebox and freeze while I work all day, like Bob Cratchit with a laptop.
So on Thursday the husband and I set off for a Home Depot to purchase a space heater and copy the single house key we shared between the two of us. All was well and good until the ride home.
The husband: What do you want for dinner?
Me: A panini.
The husband: From Panera Bread or something?
Me: Yes, that would be fine.
The husband: Ok, get out your phone and look up where the closest Panera is.
Me: There’s one in Alexandria. We are now driving away from it. And there’s one on Connecticut NW, if you want to drive into the District. Ooo! Let’s just go to Pentagon Row, there’s a bunch of stuff there.
The husband: Like what?
Me: There’s a Noodles and Company. Let’s go there. I’ll map it.
The husband: I know where we’re going.
Me: <puts phone away, 5 minutes pass>
Me again: Baby, that’s the exit for Pentagon City. Ahh! Where are you going??
The husband: I missed it. That’s ok, we’ll take this one.
Me: This is to the PENTAGON, not Pentagon City.
The husband: It’s the same.
Me: Uh, no. It’s not. One thing I have learned in this place is that you have to just follow the signs. Forget Google maps, just follow the road signs.
The husband: I went this way the other day with the helpful coworker.
Me: Oh really? Because now we’re about to park at the Pentagon. They don’t like it when unauthorized vehicles do that.
The husband: No, this is the right way.
Me: Yeah, the right way to the South Pentagon Parking Lot. As indicated by the security gate and armed guard in front of us.
The husband: Oh. I must have gone the wrong way.
The husband: Here, we’ll go this way now.
Me: To the North Pentagon Parking Lot? I just wanted Noodles and Co.
The husband: Oh look, now we’re back on the highway.
Me: And going toward the District, not Pentagon City. Ahh! What are those sparks! There are hot coals on the highway!
The husband: Someone is probably driving on a rim.
Me: They are everywhere! It’s terrorism!
The husband: Oh shoot. This isn’t where I meant to go.
Me: Looks like someone else should have used my phone to look up directions, ahem.
The husband: ….
Me: Hey, remember that time we tried to go to Noodles and Co. and ended up at the Holocaust Museum instead?
The husband: Hey, how about that. The Holocaust Museum. I’m turning around now.
Me: At this rate, we may as well go to the Panera on Connecticut NW.
The husband: I thought you wanted Noodles.
Me: I’ll settle for something in the state of Virginia at this point.
The husband: Thanks for being patient.
Me: You’re the most handsome person to get lost with twice in one week.
The husband. Thanks.
Me: Bet you wish you’d just parked at the Pentagon right about now.
In the end, we made it to Pentagon Row, picked up dinner from Noodles and Company, and cleaned our things out of the shed in the backyard by the light of an iPhone flashlight so the landlady can get to her ladder and garden tools. No highway terrorism befell us.
On Friday I went back to Pentagon Row to visit a shoe store while my office had their Christmas party 800 miles away. The driving there was a success, the parking a trial. It’s a very strange world, this big city. I’m still getting used to it and have learned to assume that everything has one or two extra steps involved.
Also, there is generally only one way to get to anywhere you’re going, and only one way to get back out, as this week has shown us. Expect to pay going in both directions.