Wednesday, May 30, 2007


A horde of Eli-Related People crammed into the DuPont Circle Buca di Beppo in Washington, D.C. last Saturday night.

We were there for a Family Reunion of sorts. Several months ago, Elder Daughter had come up with the idea of gathering our far-flung clan together...just to enjoy each other’s company. Better to get together on a happy occasion, so her reasoning went, than at (Gawd forbid) a tragic one...and since we’re all over the map, it’s not an easy task to gather the troops.

We settled on Washington, D.C., as it was a more-or-less central location. People would be coming in from all up and down the eastern seaboard, and this way we would all have to travel (except for Elder Daughter). But Washington is a destination in and of itself, and what better time than during Memorial Day weekend, when the city would be spreading open her ample arms to greet those who would come to visit on such a nationally significant occasion?

The first wave of Shock Troops started filtering in Friday evening: me, She Who Must Be Obeyed, and the Mistress of Sarcasm (who had flown up from Savannah, the second leg of her flight being the same one we took from Atlanta). Stepbrother Doug - the eldest of Toni’s children - arrived (solo, alas) from northern California, and The Other Elisson showed up with Eli (his ownself) and Toni after a grueling eight-hour drive from Long Island. Grueling, indeed: Normally, the trip would take no more than five hours, but holiday traffic being what it was, it was slow going. You’d think all those other people would stay home, the price of gasoline being what it is these days...but no.

Also there were Phil and Marge, who had come up from south Florida. Phil, the Momma d’Elisson’s elder brother, is looking remarkably fit these days, and he was ready and willing to hike all over town with us over the weekend. Un-fricking-believable.

Additional reinforcements filtered Saturday. Curtis, the youngest of my stepbrethren, arrived with wife Michelle, kids Carmen and Seth, and sister Diane (the eldest of Toni’s brood). And finally, stepsis Karen, her son Andrew, and her Significant Other Anthony showed up just in time for dinner.

And so it was a gang of no less than eighteen Elisson-related Fambly Members gathered about the dinner table Saturday evening. And aside from just our being together, we had one more reason to celebrate - for Monday, Memorial Day, was also Eli’s 82nd birthday.

Eli and Toni
Eli and Toni.

We had chosen Buca di Beppo for its jovial, family-friendly atmosphere and frantic, over-the-top décor, but side benefits included gargantuan portions of well-prepared food. And at reasonable prices, too! It’s not Veni, Vidi, Vici or Antica Posta, but then, it doesn’t pretend to be. Just a big, honkin’, fun place to stuff oneself to the gills. And everyone - from the octogenarians to the preschoolers - had a wonderful time.

After packing about a week’s worth of food through our respective Face-Holes, we paid the check and everyone headed for the door. Curtis, along with Michelle and his two kids, needed to drive back home to New Jersey that night - and his sister Diane, who had caught a ride with them, was on her way back to the Hamptons. With the car parked conveniently right in front of the restaurant, Diane helped strap Carmen in and put Seth in his car seat, and Curtis and Michelle busied themselves with saying their goodbyes.

That’s when things began to get interesting.

As I was making my way toward the exit, I heard a commotion outside - as if a traffic accident had just taken place. I suddenly thought of Curtis and his kids - had one of them been hit? What was going on? I dashed out of the restaurant, just in time to hear Curtis ordering the driver of a silver Porsche Carrera to step out of his car. The Porsche then pulled away, tires squealing, from a spot right in front of the restaurant...with Curtis gamely hanging on, up until the point that he realized that he was not going to be able to hold the car in its place. Especially wearing a cast on his leg.

It seems that Mr. Drunken Porsche-Driver had been trying to park in front of the restaurant, and there was a nice space in front of Curtis’s minivan. But he backed into the space at high speed, oblivious to the presence of the minivan behind him. WHACK!

Then, in an alcohol-soaked panic, he pulled forward - right into the BMW in front of him. WHACK! It was like something out of an animated cartoon...except that Diane was in the minivan with Curtis’s kids, and they got shaken up badly. Meanwhile, Mr. Drunken Porsche-Driver got his ass out of Dodge.

Within minutes, a National Park Police officer showed up. He had no real authority to do much more than call the DC Metro cops, who appeared (in two separate cars) about 40 minutes later. They began taking witnesses’ statements and sent the Porsche’s tag number out over the wires.

The DC shamuses advised us that leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor - unless an injury is involved. Was there an injury? Well, the kids were pretty shaken up, and Diane’s neck was sore...enough for them to send for an ambulance, for the sole purpose of rendering aid on the spot. There was no need to go to the hospital, but the involvement of medical professionals would be enough to turn the misdemeanor into a felony.

Fire Engine
Fire engines!

Ambulance and Cop Car
Police cars! Ambulances!

Within minutes, a fire engine (!) arrived, followed by an ambulance and two - count ’em - two DC Metro cops on motorcycles. It looked like we had been involved in a train wreck, not a hit-and-run fender-bender.

The whole process of checking out Diane’s neck, giving statements to the police, and - at long last - saying our goodbyes, took well over an hour. All this time, little Carmen and Seth, who had been badly rattled at first, began to realize that they were in the eye of the Police and Fire Engine Hurricane: every little kid’s dream! They even got to give their own statements to the police.

Too Much Excitement
Curtis and Michelle comfort Carmen and Seth as brother Doug looks on.

For the adults, this was a minor inconvenience (although Mr. Drunken Porsche-Driver will, very likely, find himself inconvenienced in a more serious way). A dinged fender, some scratched paint, some lost time - that’s about it. But you know that for Carmen and Seth, young enough so that wonder can still overcome fear, this will be a Night to Remember.

Bad Disco
Elder Daughter, the Mistress, and SWMBO keep themselves amused by doing their best imitation of a bad Finnish music video.

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