There was a holiday yesterday. So I was told. In the morning I got
up (barely, as usual) after 4.5 hours of sleep and went to work upon completing
a number of early-morning chores. Never a thought crossed my mind that
I shouldn't have done that. Moreover, I had to issue a press release the
week before that, warning the honest paying crowd that we'd be closed on
I got my first suspicions twenty inches in front of the Consulate door,
when a militiaman went out (normally they are not allowed inside) and said
to a small mob of customers: "They have a holiday." They asked:
"What holiday?", trying to find my press release on the front
door, that simply wasn't there because I had completely forgotten to write
"Hell knows," answered the militiaman.
I went inside anyway. Everything was quiet and the lobby was deserted.
A lonely U.S. Marine stood behind the thick bulletproof glass, looking
I said: "Hi."
He said: "Hi."
I asked: "What's wrong?" -- looking around and trying to
produce the badge.
He said: "Nothing. It's holiday today."
I said: "What holiday?"
He looked apologetic: "Umm, I really don't know, but it's a holiday.
We are closed."
I said: "Jesus." -- Now I figured it out.
He said: "No, not that one. Maybe, Martin Luther King's birthday?"
I said: "No, no, that was in January." (I happen to know
that, cause it's right around my birthday).
And we stood and looked at each other for some time, trying to think
of a holiday to name it the day, Monday.
He then asked somebody behind him, and they didn't know neither.
I said: "OK, no problem, forget it."
And went out. Took out my American notebook and looked up the day.
George Washington's birthday.
I came back home, where my mother-in-law was overseeing the baby. She
was quite happy to have me at hand, cause it's unnerving to wash the baby's
little bottom with one hand, while trying to take out the heating element
from the pail, pour the hot water into another pail, add some really ice-cold
water to make it warm and try to keep the baby from eating soap and drenching
herself with the same ice-cold water from the tap. So she was surprised
"Why?," she asked.
"It's Washington's birthday," I said.
"Oh," she said disinterestedly. "And how old is he?"
"Must be about three hundred," I said and rushed to catch
the baby who tried to parachute from the coach.