It was innocent enough. Peter and I were taking a self-guided tour around the Capitol. He had just received his newly laminated access badge and wanted to take it out for a test drive.
Let me point out that interns are the only ones that wear their badges with pride. Real staffers only show them when necessary. We didn’t know that we had bullseyes dangling from our necks.
We stumbled upon a reception past the House chambers in the National Statuary Hall. The food was out, the ice was cold, and the caterers were standing at their stations.
We were offered hors-d’oeuvres on tiny Congressional cocktail napkins, which would be rude to refuse. We wandered over to the bar and accepted a glass of wine. Well, this wasn’t too shabby.
Then we noticed them trickling in. They were pouring out of the House Chamber toward the bar like ants to sugar. All of them wearing member of Congress pins. Quickly, a purple velvet rope went up at the entrances, shooing away anyone who wasn’t supposed to be there. Like us.
A shrilly staffer bee-lined for us. “No. No. No. No. No,” he repeated as he took away our glasses. He let us keep our finger food as he threw our badge-wearing intern asses to the curb.
Life outside the velvet rope wasn’t as exciting. We had a taste of the inside and wanted back in.
We quickly learned that there were multiple receptions all day long, each thrown by a different lobby. There wasn’t a clear-cut ruling on whether interns were allowed, but since the lobbyists wanted a high headcount, they were indifferent as to the attendees.
Free drinks, free food, no carding, while never having to leave the capitol complex.
Accordingly, like all miracles, it needed to be treated with reverence. We vowed never to be turned away again. Drew remembered some excellent advice, “If you look and act like you belong, you belong.” It became our silent mantra.
The Congressman’s staff would let us borrow his daily schedule to look for parties to crash. The two caveats were that Archie wasn’t to find out and that we avoid receptions where it says that The Congressman had RSVP’d.
To be fair, it wasn’t like we intentionally broke our promise.