Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Hi! My Name Is...and I'll Be Your Historical Re-Enactor for Today
Friday my girlfriend and I went on the official walking tour of Annapolis. I have not done this tour since I was in the second or third grade. (Apparently it has been officially deemed part of the 4th grade curriculum--a sign that today's students are not as advanced as kids of my generation? I report, you decide.)
For those of you have not done such a thing, walking tours take what would be a 30 minute walk and stretch it out to over two hours by standing around looking at stuff and looking impressed by what a costumed actor says to you. Our guide, Squire Buffington, dressed the full part and regaled us with tales of colonial America. I'm not sure if the subtle Elmer Fudd accent (e.g., "Life was hawd undew the Bwitish tax stwuctuh") was part of the reenactment or not.
Squire Buffington, it turns out, is a Patriot, in both the 18th century and 21st century sense of the word: he opposes taxes and thinks of Fox News should be renamed The Learning Channel. Keeping with the role, he went out of his way to be awkwardly sexist and ageist towards the two ladies on our tour, and not in the endearing, "What a sweet old man trapped in a world that has passed him by" kind of way. However, he had some sense of decorum: he knew hazing stories for the Naval Academy but wouldn't tell them. And, he seemed genuinely conflicted to have a decent family-man Republican governor (Bob Erlich) in the state house because it ruined his gossip-rap about the former governor (Paris Glendenning).
The tour has two main stops: the general assembly, which is the oldest state legislature building still in use, and the Naval Academy chapel. The bulk of the time is spent in these two places or getting to these two places. You get some incidental peaks at St. Anne's Episcopal Church on Church Circle and a couple other buildings between State Circle and Gate 1 of the Academy. Actually, three: the Academy dorm looks like a dingy replica of a French castle: Versailles without the gardens and mirrors. The sample dorm room looks like a "This Small Space" producer's wet dream.
Sadly, there is no stop at Chick 'n' Ruth's Deli on West St. St. John's College, one of the last remaining Great Books tradition schools, is no longer on the tour because the Liberty Tree--a centuries old oak tree--was felled in a great thunderstorm. Maybe there's a Weather Channel episode on it.
Having done the tour and remembering a fair bit of Maryland history, including the fun sexual assault episodes at the Academy in the early 90s, I had a hard time not usurping Squire Buffington's role as leader. I know now that should my funding run out at VU, I'll always have a career in the salacious guided tour industry. For example, if you come to Nashville, I can point out where the 2000 election was lost in 1999 on a street corner in front of Tennessee Republican Party headquarters when Al Gore's top fund raiser was killed in a car accident. The conspiracy theorist in me could mean big bucks!
Anyhoo, I did learn some fun details about colonial life and the origins of some common expressions (e.g., to put on your dogs and my dogs are barking refers to the fact that people made shoes from their dead dogs.) Definitely worth the price ($11 per person) compared to say, Terminator 3, which wasn't nearly as terrible as I had imagined/hoped. It's sad when I can say about California's next governor, "You know, Terminator wouldn't have been so bad if they could have used somebody else to play the Terminator."
What the tour did for me was make me realize Annapolis needs an architectural walking tour. Yet another entrepenurial activity for me!
Comments: Post a Comment