Though the town house normally serves only as a place to sleep for the four Republicans, it’s also filled with children’s toys, games and videos. Scalise’s young children now play with the toys Shimkus’ kids played with nine years ago. Sometimes the house is filled with as many as 15 people when all of the Members’ families join them in Washington.
During the inauguration, the children all got together for an impromptu snowball fight on the front lawn.
“Someone took aim at someone’s bald head with snowballs,” Brady said, looking pointedly at Shimkus.
“Which was an easy target,” Shimkus said.
“And he delivered, which my boys thought was hilarious,” Brady said.
Baseball week is particularly crowded because many of the families travel to Washington to watch the game. Paulsen’s youngest girls are particularly excited, as are Brady’s boys and Shimkus’ parents.
“The boys have been in the dugout in the past and just chatter on and on about it,” Brady said. “My wife will tell people, when they learn I play baseball, she’ll say, ‘Yeah, yeah! It’s just like real baseball — but slower.’ Which is exactly what it is.”
Though they love having their families in town, the four admitted they spend the weekend before any visit cleaning bathrooms and going on grocery runs with their one car.
“We all have to go shopping and get things in the refrigerator and make sure there’s enough detergent and all that,” Brady said. “There’s a college atmosphere. It’s not as glamorous as people imagine, for the most part.”
It’s certainly not glamorous for Paulsen, who has to fit the other five members of his family — all women — into his basement room, which is 8 feet by 9 feet. He sleeps on a bunk bed in the “Gopher hole,” as his housemates refer to it. The room is too small even to hold their luggage.
Brady didn’t expect such a familial atmosphere when he first came to Washington, but he couldn’t be happier with how it’s turned out.
“I feel lucky,” he said. “Baseball’s been a part of that, and roommates have been a part of it. I feel like I just fell into a really, really good thing.”
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