Sunday, May 05, 2013

Visiting Donna, Visiting Bush

Have you ever discovered relatives you didn't know you had? Probably not. But John did, and we met her this weekend!

John and I have both done the DNA test through It is very easy to do -- you just pay them about $100, spit into a tube for a while, seal and send the tube in, and then wait a few weeks. The first result you receive is a breakdown of the parts of the world your ancestors were from. That was interesting enough, but nothing like the second part -- when starts matching you up with probable relatives.

John received a probable match that turned out to be his second cousin. He and Donna corresponded for a while, nailing down the specifics of their relationship (they share a great-grandfather). Since we were already headed towards Texas, they decided to have a get-together.

We had a wonderful three days here on the outskirts of Dallas, getting to know each other and discovering that, in addition to genes, we share many areas of common interest.

One of our outings was to the newly minted George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. It had opened just two days earlier, so we thought it would be difficult to get tickets. But we did, despite purchasing our tickets through an online ordering system that had a frustration level that rivaled navigating Los Angeles freeways at rush hour in a pea-soup fog. Tickets finally secured, our only other challenge was finding a parking spot in a hideously too-small lot, but we got lucky and found someone just pulling out. The Parking Gods were with us!

The Library itself is all sparkly and new, the security guards still pleasant and smiling, the audio-visuals still working, and the staff still helpful despite some surprises like long lines with no obvious place to queue (we overheard them discussing it in their "serious" voices) and unexpected questions ("how much is that in the gift shop?"). The content in the Library, however, doesn't actually jibe with my memory of history -- if it is to be believed, Bush rose to godlike status as he made the perfect decision for each and every crisis, while simultaneously ridding the world of "evil-doers," walking on water, and feeding the country's poor with a single fish.

As we lined up to see a replica of Bush's Oval Office, we snaked past an interactive table that failed to inform anyone that it WAS interactive. A helpful "host" showed us how to use it, expanding, contracting, and twirling audio-visuals just like we were in Minority Report. The kids got it right away, but failed to learn anything other than how to play with a touch screen to relieve boredom. The adults learned nothing either, except how to watch kids learn to relive boredom with a touch screen. I will bet that this table will be the first thing to stop working, and they'll cover it with a cloth and put a bust of Bush on it.

When we got to the faux Oval Office, photographers were on hand to snap your photo as you sat at the Resolute Desk and played with the phone, pretended to sign an Executive Order, or just looked uncomfortable as everyone in line behind you stared reproachfully. Yes, of course you had to buy the photo from the gift shop! Here we are in ours:

(John pretend-ordered a pizza. Hilarity ensued!)
And here's what it looks like behind the scenes:

The path through the museum began with Bush's early life, continued through his political career, presidency, and finally ended when he became a "Private Citizen" (a dated line was drawn on floor so you'd know when this happened). The crowds were heaviest during the early years and presidency, with people jostling for seats in mini-theaters or in the standing-room only "Decision Points" arena where you can play the game of "would I have made the same choices as Bush?"

But once we reach the private citizen section, the crowds just disappear. Seems like citizen Bush just isn't very interesting to anyone.

But my favorite part? Barney and Miss Beasley, of course.

Together again, they will forever bring joy and dog-gone enthusiasm to the George W. Bush Library.


Nancy said...

Your description of the museum confirms my lack of desire to visit

Judy Luke Rinehimer said...

I was surprised you stopped at the Bush museum. Loved your descriptions, however, of how "creative" history can be. Maybe the small parking lot will be just right after the grand opening.