20 things I’ve learned traveling in Virginia.

1)  “Cosi.”  They ought to call it COSTLY.

2)  Ballston, Virginia.  Toughest town name ever?

3)  I need to finally exorcise this misconception that the buses in Virginia should be different colors.  ALL THE BUSES ARE THE SAME COLOR.  I arrived at this much needed conclusion last night, after great deliberation and help from friends.

4)  Women on the bus smile at me.  (I got game.)

5)  I habitually carry a pen and open notebook on long trips, because I am trying to be that writer guy.  But if you carry those into a deli run by recent immigrants, they freak ought because they think you’re a health inspector.  Language barriers complicate matters further and raise anxiety for all parties concerned.  Inexplicably, saying “I’M NOT A NARC!” in a frustrated New York accent clears everything right up.

6)  In Virginia, the subway is called “The Metro.”

7)  Due to uniform design and construction, Metro stations mostly look alike.  That’s why every stop looks like the climactic scene of the awesome, totally sweet, criminally underrated “The Jackal” (1998) with Bruce Willis.

8)  “The Metro” is also the name of the bar in “The Crying Game” (1992).  This film is about much MORE than its infamous central plot twist, and boasts an amazing, heartbreaking performance by Stephen Rea.  Rea is actually FROM Belfast, Ireland.  (Okay, some of this is getting off topic.)

9)  Stop thinking about movies so much when you’re on the Metro platform.  Or about bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches.  Or about how they almost ripped you off at “Cosi.”  Or The Avengers.  Or Zooey Deschanel.  You could miss your train.

10)  There is no need to freak out like last time when I don’t have exact change for the bus.  If I just round it up to the next dollar, it’s fine.

11)  I don’t know what the term “metrosexual” means.  It is not, however, Virginia commuters’ equivalent of “The Mile High Club.”  Or, at least, I’ve seen no evidence to suggest this so far.

12)  If you travel past The Pentagon, you can see Ospreys!!  I saw two of them flying in formation!!!  I’m not talking about the birds — I’m talking about the military aircraft — totally sweet, bad-ass hybrids of planes and helicopters with twin rotors attached to their “wings.”  If you’re a 12-year-old boy at heart, this makes your day.

13) There is an occasional dearth of crosswalks along Virginia highways.  I almost got killed running across the highway to MacDonalds.  (I should get a free Dr. Pepper when that happens.)

14)  Do any of you guys think that there is the slimmest possibility that Zooey Deschanel would go out with me?  I know I don’t have as much going for me as those Hollywood guys.  But this is the Internet age, and I could probably figure out a way to contact her directly , being both a former investigative reporter and a borderline sociopath.  Plus, my poetry is online, and sometimes women respond really favorably to that.  Advise via e-mail, please.

15)  As in New York, random strangers will sometimes stare at me for a moment or two.  As in New York, I’m pretty sure it is because people think I look like James Woods.

16)  Just to make sure, I need to stop talking to myself in public.

17)  Public transportation employees in the Commonwealth of Virginia are … about a thousand times more polite than their counterparts in New York.  OMNIRIDE, I ADMIRE YOUR DEPORTMENT.

18)  People who look like Borat usually aren’t Borat.

19)  Every time I am at A CERTAIN SINGLE SPOT along Route 1, my cell phone receives a call from a restricted number.  I am not sure if it is an extremely paranoid drug dealer hiding in the woods nearby (who somehow hacked my number), or the National Security Agency.  Frankly, I’m not sure which prospect scares me more.

20)  [In best Fox Mulder voice from “The X Files” episode “731.”]  “You know, Scully, it’s true what they say.  You haven’t seen America until you’ve seen it from a train.”

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