Oh no, cave in at the old mine!

Have you ever driven up Georgetown Pike in Langley, Va.? Go north on George Washington Parkway, then south on VA-123, then right on Georgetown Pike.

I highly recommend it, because, seriously... it's like Republican Fantasy Land.

As you drive along 123, it looks more or less like the rest of GW Parkway land; lots of trees, not many buildings. The completely unironically named George Bush Center for Intelligence, where they're so good at digging up slam dunks on Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, is down the road. There are occasional side streets into neighborhoods belonging to the likes of progressive everyman Pat Buchanan.

All that's standard-level suburban creepiness for Washington. But the supreme über-creëpiness doesn't kick in until you turn down Georgetown Pike. This is where suburban living is taken to a Stepfordian extreme. In fact, they've somehow managed to cross the line from suburban to exurban. I was driving through rural Pennsylvania a few weeks back, and this was almost exactly like that; a narrow two-lane road, with some up-and-down hillyness. The road is completely covered with trees, so that you can't see any evidence of city living (that includes "dc style") in any direction. There's a general store-slash-gas station with just a couple of pumps. And not "store" in the usual metropolitan mini-mart sense; it's literally a little shack, like you would see driving around in the middle of nowhere. After a while you come upon a big-ass high school, just like they might have in a one-school rural county. The mascot of said high school is, once again completely unironically, the Saxons.

And so, the sheltered suburbanites managed to insulate their community from any signs of urban life. There are no restaurants, supermarkets, theaters, bowling alleys, bars, etc. Nothing fun or vibrant; there are no signs of life, and indeed, no sidewalks. A visitor might, for a second, think he had blacked out and driven all the way to West Virginia, if not for two crucial differences.

1. This isn't the middle of nowhere. It's inside the freaking Beltway.
2. I could afford to live in a rural/exurban community. I will never, ever be able to afford to live on Georgetown Pike in Langley. In fact, if I cloned myself four times, the four of us would still be unable to afford to live there as roommates. (There's an idea for the next Real World.

So, then... what's the point? Why re-create Little House on the Prairie in the middle of a gigantic metropolitan area?

Well, Washington's a disturbing place to live. There is a lot of urban blight. There are real problems throughout the area that these people would rather not be confronted with... crime, extreme poverty, homelessness, neighborhoods that appear to have been hit by a nuclear bomb, etc. And, if you're a Republican, your Fantasy Land does not include such elements. (For these problems would cost money to address, and if something costs money, but doesn't involve, say, bombing Muslims at random, well, it's just not worth doing.)

But conscience is a funny thing. Overpriced city living is great, but driving the SUV around Logan Circle and having to look at all those homeless drug addicts just won't do... it tends to make one uncomfortable. Suburban living, is, I guess, too common and crowded for these people. Thus, Georgetown Pike provides the illusion of rural living, but is priced well out of the league of most people, while still being less than 15 miles away from all the blight and other wonders of D.C.

Everybody wins! Nobody has to be confronted with the realities of failed economic so-and-so whatever. The residents can sleep soundly at night, having convinced themselves of the illusion that they live like the Waltons.

So, yeah, I recommend sightseeing in this neighborhood, if you want to transport yourself to a different place and time. Say hi to Michael Landon for me.

Just one more thing: you'll have to drive. Metro doesn't travel anywhere along Georgetown Pike. (Wouldn't want to give those minorities and drug addicts a free pass into Fantasy Land!)

I hate this damn city.

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