With the advent of Dan Brown’s “The Lost Symbol” this coming Tuesday, the secret societies of the DC area are bracing for a sudden onrush of tourists to their places of…secrecy, I guess? As early as Tuesday night (Seriously-how long does it take to read a Dan Brown book?) throngs of Dan Brown devotees could be showing up at your local Masonic lodge asking if they could just “poke around a bit.” This story in yesterday’s WaPo (while taking shot after shot at Dan Brown and his audience) details how even little places like Rosslyn Chapel Trust see an explosion in tourism based on their supposed (and by supposed I mean created for a work of fiction by a writer of fiction, but it sounds real) connection to the lost mysteries of Christ. Where Professor Robert Langdon goes, so go the masses.
No doubt, there will be an increase to some of these probable locales (THANKS Matt Lauer!) and you’re likely to get some folks bugging you with stupid half right facts about secret societies for the next two years (just in time for a movie to come out and start it all over again), it doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun. For your entertainment, here are some ideas for how to deal with tourists in search of a “Secret Washington:”
1.) Stage an argument near one of these likely destination. Have one person imploring desperately for help from another. Just as it reaches a fever pitch, and just as your target is in ear shot, say “Will no one help the Widow’s Son?” Then cast shifty looks all around, and sneak off together to go do something Masonic-y.
2.) Go on one of the inevitable tours that will blossom from this, and while looking at something old and mysterious (there is bound to be something), bend over and mutter “Oh my God..” just loud enough for others to hear. Bring a little make-up brush and start dusting something carefully and say “Oh…it just can’t be!” Feel free to exclaim “I found it” (specify it if you have read the above book and know something that could have been found) as you rush away from the tour. Bonus: Have two friends ready, dressed very neatly in suits, come “collect” you when you make your discovery. Be sure to protest the entire time you are being escorted out-especially that the others “have a right to know!”
3.) Striking up a conversation with one of these folks, start to mention some of the “rumors” you’ve heard of hidden places in DC, full of “mystery” and “wonder.” When they inquire as to where these places are, say you’ve only heard rumor (and maybe, saw on a map just once) of places tourists never get to see-places only referred to “NorthEast” and “SouthEast”…or was it “SouthWest”, you can’t really remember. (And let’s face it, most of NE and SE are hidden, mysterious places for tourists despite some of the neat things they offer).
4.) When a Fan-Tourist (Foorist?) tells you something that is clearly wrong or made up from the novel, but wants to pass it off as half truth, say “pfft. That’s not how it happened in National Treasure.” If they press you that National Treasure was “just a movie”, well, I think you can figure out what to do from there. (Side Note: Why didn’t National Treasure create this kind of fervor? Those movies were pretty fun!)
5.) Get some sidewalk chalk and just start writing stuff that sounds mysterious on the sidewalk like or “AOFACFSOA FSZWBEIC EIOA ZOHSFWQWOA OQQSDW” other things from the book’s twitter page. (note: that might actually be illegal or considered defacing property-so be warned).
6.) Introduce them to the people still in line at Five Guy’s and Ray’s Hell Burger from when President Obama went there. Have them exchange stories of obsessiveness.
7.) Tell them “Walk left, Stand Right.” Nothing to do with the book, but they are likely to be tourists.