Dear Pope Benedict XVI:
Welcome to Washington, DC! I hope you have a wonderful visit!
In looking at your schedule though, I find it a little...predictable? I see you will be at the White House, you have a meeting with Bishops, there is that much anticipated Mass at Nationals Park and another meeting with Catholic Educators. It all sounds very official and business-like although I am sure it will be extremely memorable and meaningful for those who come into contact with you. But what are you going to do for fun? Are you going to have a few minutes to let your zucchetto down? Don't you want to see some of the real Washington?
April 15, Tuesday
Your official schedule indicates only one event: arrival at Andrews Air Force Base with a greeting by President and Mrs. Bush.
I am sure you will probably be a little jet lagged and I have a suggestion for what you can do. When Washingtonians have been out all night and are about to go home to sleep, we head to historic U Street to stop by Ben's Chili Bowl for its famous local delicacy--the chili half-smoke. While standing in line you will meet some of the diverse locals who eat there and hear some great R&B music.
There is a famous sign at Ben's that proclaims that Bill Cosby is the only person who eats for free. Do you think after your visit a second name will be added to that sign?
Wash down that half-smoke with a milk shake and I guarantee you will sleep like a baby!
April 16 Wednesday
Today is your birthday!! Happy Birthday Holy Father!
The day starts with your official visit to the White House. After the visit you are taking the Popemobile for a leisurely spin up Pennsylvania Avenue to Rock Creek Parkway to the nunciature.
Here's my suggestion to spice this up some and make it a little more fun: why don't you take Popemobile 1 and challenge a local like Condolezza Rice to take Popemobile 2 and race up Pennsylvania Avenue? I mean today is your birthday!!! You just know she is the type of gal who would like to kick off her Manolo Blahniks, put the pedal to the metal and pop a few Popemobile wheelies on Washington Circle in a Papal birthday drag race. The loser has to buy dinner at Brightwood's Colorado Kitchen. Order the meat loaf and save room for pineapple upside down cake-- you won't regret it win or lose!
April 17, Thursday
I realize this is your really busy day with the Mass at Nationals Park so let's keep today's side trip simple. After spending hours with thousands of people why don't you relax by spending some time with the animals? Stop by the beautiful National Zoo in Woodley Park and commune with nature. Here's an even better idea--have your picture taken at the zoo with a bear...in the woods. Trust me this picture will be posted on every blog around the world for years to come. A great souvenir of your trip to DC!
April 18, Friday
Sadly today you depart DC for New York so may I make one wee suggestion? On your way to the airport could you stop by the District Building for a few minutes and say thank you to your local host Mayor Fenty? After all it is us Washingtonians who are the ones who are dealing with traffic issues for four days and paying for part of the extra police presence for your security. We aren't complaining, we would just like you to spend some time with our Mayor. We like him a lot and think you will too.
It is said that your predecessor Pope John Paul II helped bring down communism in Europe. Are you aware that the local residents of the Capital of the Free World do not have voting representation in Congress? Have you heard the phrase "Taxation without Representation?" Mayor Fenty will explain this to you and maybe you could help us. The best thank you present you could possibly give to the District of Columbia is to help us get voting rights in Congress. If so, there is no need to send us a thank you note and a bottle of chianti when you get back home.
Pope Benedict XVI, thanks again for visiting our city. I hope you enjoyed your visit as much as we did! Have a safe trip back to Vatican City and please come back soon!
Herb of DC
P.S. While you are here can you also catch and teach a Papal lesson to those people who are littering our streets?