Topic: "The Brotherhood Begins"
Frodo first knew Boromir, Legolas, Gimli, and the other members of the Fellowship before he knew of the Ring or the evil Sauron. In carefree days, when we were soldiers of another kind, there were many reasons to explore the capital of our nation. The best reason was to sample the fare which an active metabolism allows. Best of all these was "Senate Bean Soup."
Gimli was the most stately of the group, with a wit as sharp as a bladeaxe and the willingness to swing for the knees. Leading the group into the bowels beneath the US Capitol to the cafeteria reserved for Members of Congress and their staff, Gimli would strike a pontifical pose. Walking past the guards, as if he truly belonged there, he would engage Boromir in a discussion regarding the merit to "The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution." Legolas would take off on Tax policy as the Fellowship descended on the cafeteria line, plunked down their $1 bills, and watched as the delightful soup was ladled into an "Official" US Senate bowl. The guards were easily fooled.
Frodo learned from his friend to always enter as if he owned the joint, and to strike a shocked pose if challenged. It has served Frodo well.
In those days, before there were Hobbits, Men of Gondor, and Riders of Rohan, Frodo knew this group as Arlin, John, and Mike. Occasionally we would be joined by others, but the Fellowship of the Ring remained united. On one memorable occasion, the founding Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, had finally died, and the nation was masking its' mirth by laying his body in state in the Capitol Rotunda. It was a festive atmosphere that drew us from our labours at Mount Doom. We decided that the best place to "star gaze" was at the rear of the Capitol where the limousines unloaded.
Standing amidst the throng of tourists, who come to Washington as if they were swallows seeking Capistrano, we were joined by an interloper known as Jerry. We stood silently as the tourists around us stared expectantly at each approaching limousine. The whispering speculation as to the identity of each somber countenance was too much for Frodo to stand. When the first limousine emptied Frodo announced in a loud tone that that was "John Connolly, Secretary of the Treasury." Immediately the whispering grew feverish as cameras flashed and tourists fell over each other trying to get a look at the stumblebum from Texas (Republic of Mexico).
As the second limousine pulled up the crowd grew silent, staring straight ahead, but with ears cocked to Frodo. He announced "That is John Mitchell, Attorney General." The buzzing was akin to a million hornets as tourists addressed each other as if now they were Washington Insiders.
Mike and Jerry could stand it no more, for tolerance to tourists is not something which Washingtonians inherit from their parents. It is an acquired quality, if ever acquired. The two of them walked down to the actual entrance in order to enter the Rortunda, and, of course, that sent the accumulated tourists to gaggle.
Slowly, the entire crowd turned to Frodo to identify the unidentified walking in a most dignified manner. With all his pomposity Frodo boomed, "That is Mike and Jerry." The tourists cocked their heads one to another and the speculation grew rampant until one finally happened upon the names of Mike Mansfield and Jerry Ford. As a group they turned to where Frodo had been, only to notice the space abandoned, and their tourguide in absentia. To this day Frodo knows that some of those tourists have photographs of Mike and Jerry which they proudly share with family and friends as candid photos of the Senate Majority Leader and the House Minority Leader.
Frodo, Boromir, Legolas, and Gimli gathered in the Senate cafeteria, and laughed in the way that only those full of hopes and dreams can laugh. The soup was great, the fellowship was real.