We have a family friend visiting us while on sabbatical from Tulane University. We took her to Mount Vernon today to show her George Washington’s home. It’s a wonderful half-day historical excursion if you’re ever in the Washington, D.C. area.
Being that the place is lovingly restored and open to the public in honor of the first president of the world’s greatest capitalist country, the gift shops are magnificent. The main gift shop, the last stop before you dodge tour buses en route to your car, is truly interesting.
In it there are a zillion items that relate directly to George Washington and his wife, Martha. There are a few thousand more that relate to Mount Vernon, the farm itself.
Then there are a selected few that don’t seem to relate to anything except capitalism. For example, you can buy a $500 amber necklace, a $4,800 coin minted in Washington’s time, and a $2 shot glass with “Mount Vernon” written on it.
The restoration, preservation, and presentation of George Washington’s home as it was when he lived there is truly a monument to America’s reverence for its proud history. This stunningly accurate and compelling restoration is a must-see when you come here.
But the gift shop is a microcosm of how goofy our beloved country can be. The $2 Mount Vernon shot glass is evidence of this.
You can see the little melodrama unfold. Miroslav comes to D.C. on business from Zagreb, gets taken site-seeing to Mount Vernon, and shops for a gift for wife, Dubravka. Days later, here’s the scene back in Zagreb:
“Dubravka, honey, I’m home! I missed you so much in America.”
“Miroslav, darling, I’m so happy to have you home. Did you bring me anything from America?”
“Yes, my love. I brought you this most useful shot glass from Mount Vernon. It has great historical significance.”
“What! No amber necklace?”
Right about now, you are thinking what Dubravka is thinking: Garage sale.
“Miroslav, you wiener! What possible historical significance can this silly Mount Vernon shot glass have?”
“Dubravka, my pet, that is simple: George Washington slurped here.”