Recently, a friend's wedding compelled me to visit the exact opposite of Austin. Dallas is famous for its slick exterior and a distinctly southern tendency for being basic.
People in Dallas are...how can I put this delicately. The kind of people who would eat at a Cheesecake Factory. If you read Yelp reviews of restaurants Dallas you'll notice that food quality takes a backseat to metrics like server smiles per second (S.S.P.S.), and speed. Speed is so important that you'll find a lot of reviewers take the time to break down their experiences into minute-by-minute increments.
Because I read Yelp reviews to unwind in the evenings, I have a pretty good idea of the ideal Dallas dining experience. It is as follows:
7:05: Arrived at casual dining facility wearing cowboy boots, the same up-do I wore to my high school prom, and full makeup. I look extremely awesome, and there are no non-white people in this restaurant to make me question myself.
7:06: My smiling, blonde-haired ex-cheerleader of a waitress has stuffed my body in a well-oiled SeatingLuge™ and shot me into the nearest dining booth. Piping Hot Queso Dip™ is waiting.
7:07: "Can I get you anything to drink?" the waitress asks, producing frozen margaritas from under her skirt before I can answer.
7:07: I order Beef Tex-Mex™, Chicken Tex-Mex™, Shrimp Tex-Mex™, and a cheescake.
7:10: Food arrives and I leave to eat it in my car.
The day after the Dallas nuptials, my wedding buddies and I had an afternoon to kill.
"Where should we go?" I asked the post-wedding brunch bunch. "Where can someone find any respite from boredom in this twisted Oz of shopping mall dystopia?"
"Go to the Perot Natural History Museum!" said all of the Dallas locals.
"Let's go to the George Bush Museum," I strongly suggested, once everyone else was out of earshot.
My travel companions agreed, based on this reasoning: The George Bush Museum and Library is a thing that can only exist in Dallas. Also, it has 4-and-a-half stars on Yelp.
But before you get too excited, no, this is not a museum where you can see the self-portraits of George W. Bush in the shower. Those didn't even get a mention.
In the museum's orientation room we got a run-down on the basic premise of George Bush.
"Baseball Value Principles are the Principle Reasons for my Texas Values," he said, spread out over 20-ish minutes.
Here is what happened during his presidency, according to the movie we watched.
1. In light of 9/11, did what he knew he had to do: PLAY BALL!
2. Taught the children to read (even the dumb ones).
3. Loved Laura Bush and only Laura Bush forever and ever, amen.
4. Went to Africa to tell AIDS what he thought of it (fuckin sucks).
After the movie ended and the lights went up, my friend surveyed the crowded theater and whispered, "Do you think these people are actually Republicans?"
Judging by their heart-shaped hair clips and 100-year-old bodies, it wasn't out of the question.
We got to see displays of all the gifts people have given George W. Bush over the years. This stuffed lion from Tanzania was given to George W. Bush by President Jakaya Kikwete.
George W. Bush is singularly ungrateful for this stuffed lion. He never uses it.
Then there was this.
The display of G-Dog and the Homeboys: Father Greg Boyle and the Gangs of East Los Angeles by Celeste Fremon (with a forward by Tom Brocaw) came with no explanation.
Exhibits about the highlights of George W. Bush's presidency exist in a vacuum, with no hint of how it all shook it out. No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Act are rolled out like tracks from a greatest hits compilation.
I hadn't considered that this museum would make me relive footage of 9-11. I also had to live through this poem for the first time.
Dear Mrs. Bush,
I am writing acrostic poem to share my thoughts about the distruction in N.Y.
I'm not bringing up the poem to shit on Justin (but "Justin." Ew.) I just want to point out that there HAD to have been something better in that sack of mail, and no one was willing to put in the effort to find it. And that's lazy. Almost as lazy as beginning and ending your acrostic poem with the same word, Justin.
The George W. Bush Museum wants you to know that combatting terrorism is, in fact, exactly like playing a video game. And you can do it, too!
Point n' click! Fate, decided!
All you need is confidence and a good index finger.
TAP LEFT! TAP RIGHT! Well, that's Afghanistan dealt with. Lunch? Cheesecake Factory?
But the best part was the Decision Points Room.
In the Decision Points Room, you are the decider.
There is a large movie screen in the front of the room, where former chiefs of staff explain your mission.
Pick a crisis, any crisis. Among the choices were Saddam, the insurgency, and the housing crash. Everyone in the room votes for their favorite crisis, and whichever gets the most votes wins.
At your consul, you have your own touchscreen where you can select different advisors.
A member of the Iraqi congress says, "If you leave Iraq now, you'll leave a civil war in your wake."
Then the CIA director tells you, "The Iraqi people super-hate you. Two-step on out of this mess."
Then you select "Agree" or "Disagree" on your touchscreen.
Every once in a while, you'll get interrupted with stressful, breaking news on the main screen.
Your answers are tallied with everyone else playing at the other consuls. Then the chief of staff explains to you why your answers were right or wrong, based on how well your answers matched Bush's.
At the end of one round, the chief of staff informed us: "The players in this room were unable to reach a decision. George W. Bush didn't have that option."
Then there is an entire wing of the museum devoted to showcasing each president's relationship with baseball (turns out they are contractually obligated to enjoy it).
I skipped the baseball room in favor of the bathroom. The George W. Bush Museum has one of the loudest, fartiest ladies' rooms I have ever had the pleasure to visit. George W. Bush cannot be blamed for this, no matter how much I know you will try.
At the George W. Bush Museum gift shop, you can buy a copy of some original Bush artwork. Again, not the nudes. Sorry.
In the end we all concluded that The George W. Bush Museum presented an efficient narrative but lacked anything substantive, much like a Cheescake Factory.
No? Too forced? Well, I'd like to see how you'd end a blog. You have no idea what kind of pressures I'm up against. Besides, we can't really know if that was a good ending or not until all the wars I started with my blog come to an end, long after we're all dead.
Now leave me. I'm off to take one of my longer showers.