Archive | December, 2015

To catch a fugitive: Christmas Edition

30 Dec

Image source: google images

My sister lives about 30 minutes from my parents, so our tradition is to drive up and have dinner with her family on Christmas Eve. This year was no exception and it was almost 9pm when we pulled out of her driveway to return to my parents’ for the night.

Ten minutes later we were stopped at a red light near Briarwood Mall. Through the intersection, we saw three cars, all parked in weird places and at odd angles. Steam rose from the hood of the third car. “Do you suppose there’s been an accident?” my mom asked.

We were still puzzling it out when the third car suddenly reversed and peeled out, flying toward the mall and away from the accident at a break-neck pace. “Do you think he’s fleeing the scene?” my dad asked from the backseat.

That was the only nudge my mom needed to zip through the light and investigate. She pulled through the intersection, pausing next to the remaining car, where a man was standing outside it on his phone, looking incredulous. “Did that guy hit you?” my mom called out to him.

The guy confirmed that he had. “And did he just take off?” my mom continued. Again, the guy nodded. “Yeah – he just hit me and left. Can you believe that?”

“I’ll see if I can get him,” my mom told him, goosing her Prius into  action. Had she owned a police light, she would’ve rolled her window down and smacked it on the roof. We sped into the Briarwood complex, the parking lot and surrounding streets deserted from the earlier crush of shoppers.

As we started winding our way along the street circling the mall, something caught my mom’s eye off to the side. There, parked at a drive-thru bank, was a car with its lights off, steam still rising from its hood. “That’s him!” she yelled, cutting a wide, obvious u-turn to circle back to the bank.

Time-out as we assess my mom’s performance as a private eye for a moment:

  • Pros: eagle eye, fearlessness
  • Cons: discretion, stealth

No sooner had we pulled into the bank parking lot than the “perp” hopped back in his car and sped away. (He’d been standing outside it, presumably assessing the damage and calling a friend to pick him up). Mom, no shrinking violet (see pros listed above), pulled out right after him yelling for me to call the police.

What then ensued was was a game of cat and mouse as we tailed this guy all through the Briarwood parking lot, with my mom trying to get close enough for us to read the license plate, my dad trying to figure out the last four digits on the plate, and me shouting the letters we could see to the police dispatch, all as the guy did his best to lose us. It was a scene worthy of Home Alone.

Finally the guy DID manage to lose us – mainly because I urged my mom to stop matching his speed. (Sorry, mom!) We’d only been able to identify three of the seven digits for the police, but they also had the make/model and year of the vehicle, so between that and the fact that his radiator was probably out of fluid and would grind the car to a halt soon, they seemed fairly confident they’d find him.

“If only you guys had let me really chase him, we could’ve nailed his ass,” Mom sighed.

“Well, if you’d been driving my van, we could’ve used my binoculars to get the plate without needing to chase him,” Dad sighed.

At that I had to laugh, imagining the call the police would’ve received about US if my parents had gotten their Christmas wishes:

Image Source:

“I’d like to report a Prius driving recklessly in the Briarwood parking lot. It’s going about 60 mph, ignoring the pavement markers. It appears to be driven by two white-haired grandparents – and one of them seems to be trying to birdwatch!” 


However you spent YOUR Christmas, I hope it was memorable! 

Star Wars vs. Matilda?

29 Dec

Unlike most of the world, I don’t give two shits about Star Wars. I’ve seen the original three movies, but none of the sequels. Any movie or book that features a made-up creature (like a unicorn, a dragon or a wookie) doesn’t interest me much. Unless it’s Harry Potter – then all bets are off.

Alan is in the other camp and was excited for the new Star Wars release. He didn’t have any firm plans to see it, but by the opening weekend he was concerned that if he didn’t see it soon, someone would spoil it for him on Facebook. So as we made our plans that Saturday morning, he informed me he’d be heading to the theater that night.

“I think you probably needed to buy tickets already,” I told him.

“Nah,” he said. “It’ll be fine.”

“Are you sure? I saw pictures of people still lined up at the Uptown yesterday.”

“Worst case, I’ll drive out of the city a bit. There’s a huge theater in Manassas that is almost always empty.”

Still dubious, I decided to not push it: Not my problem.

I also decided to look around for something to entertain myself since it was officially Day One of my nine-day break from work. A quick cruise around the internet and I found that there were still tickets available at the Kennedy Center for “Matilda” that night. A perfect way to end an all-day “Me Party” (my sister’s term for when you do things you love to do by yourself without worrying about pleasing anyone else).

So I arrived at the theater, relaxed from a day that included yoga and a massage. While waiting for the show to start, I snapped a quick photo of the stage, intending to text it to Alan with a “guess where I am?” caption. No sooner than I’d heard the shutter click than an usher was standing in the aisle, shouting down at me that photography was NOT allowed inside the Opera House. (To be fair, I’ve seen enough productions there I should know that, but I’d totally blanked.)

“My apologies,” I told her, somewhat mortified.

Instead of accepting the apology and moving on, she continued her lecture so that everyone within a ten row radius could hear it. I wanted to melt into my seat and disappear. OK, lady. Got it. Don’t you have people to usher? PS: there is someone behind you taking a photo RIGHT NOW – if you’d stop lecturing me, you could actually stop another photo from being taken.

At long last, the show started. Spoiler alert: It was a disappointment. Mind you, the last performance I’d seen at the Kennedy Center was Book of Mormon this summer, so it’s likely that anything would have fallen short in its wake. And it probably didn’t help that children comprised half the cast, which yielded a lot more shouting than singing. It had potential, and I can see where it would’ve been a great book – it just didn’t translate well to the stage.

When intermission rolled around, I went out to the lobby to text my illicit photo to Alan. When I turned my phone on, however, I was greeted by this picture from him:

Fire! Fire!

While he was, in fact, in possession of a ticket to see Star Wars (score one for his confidence, zero for my pessimism) he was unable to get there because his car was blocked by fire trucks, apparently dealing with a small fire up the hill from his place. Huge bummer. Apparently the Force was not with him.

To make him feel better, I sent him this photo, saying, “I got yelled at taking for taking this.”

Kennedy Center

As I took my seat and waited for the intermission to end, I eavesdropped on two couples sitting below me, who were clearly season ticket holders.

“This show is horrible,” the man said to his wife. “I don’t know if it’s because it’s opening night and they haven’t worked things out or what, but it’s hurting my ears.”

“And those strobe lights,” the other man chirped.

“Thanks for reminding me!” the woman said. “I’m going to send them a complaint. Those lights are triggering a headache. I can just feel it coming on.”

“I hate their British accents,” said the original complainer.

He didn’t get a chance to say any more because the flights flicked and one of the characters took the stage, standing in front of the curtain with the house lights still up. “Folks,” he said, addressing the audience directly, “there are a few things that have happened up here that I need to apologize for…”

“Here we go!” the complainer behind me said, with an excitement that then shifted to disappointment when he realized that the apology was part of the show and NOT an attempt to make amends for the first act.


The show might have been a disappointment, but at least it DID entertain me – which is more than Alan can say about Star Wars. As best I can tell, the only person who was satisfied with their evening was the usher who got to bust me.

Glad I could help.