Sunday, July 15, 2007

Crunchy Criminal

OK, everyone, brace yourself for what I'm about to say. I think I'm about to renounce everything I've ever said about Rod Dreher and embrace Crunchy Conservatism, Francophilia, SPD and other forms of foodie-snob effluvia. After all, if the consumption of overpriced French goods can save the life of my child, then I'm all for it. You'll feel the same way after reading this incredible story.

A grand feast of marinated steaks and jumbo shrimp was winding down, and a group of friends was sitting on the back patio of a Capitol Hill home, sipping red wine. Suddenly, a hooded man slid in through an open gate and put the barrel of a handgun to the head of a 14-year-old guest.

"Give me your money, or I'll start shooting," he demanded, according to D.C. police and witness accounts.

"We were just finishing dinner," Cristina "Cha Cha" Rowan, 43, blurted out. "Why don't you have a glass of wine with us?"

The intruder took a sip of their Chateau Malescot St-Exupéry and said, "Damn, that's good wine."

Isn't Cha-Cha the name of Barbara Walters dog? But no, people, this is not the Onion, this is the Washington Freaking Post. It gets better....

The girl's father, Michael Rabdau, 51, who described the harrowing evening in an interview, told the intruder, described as being in his 20s, to take the whole glass. Rowan offered him the bottle. The would-be robber, his hood now down, took another sip and had a bite of Camembert cheese that was on the table.

Then he tucked the gun into the pocket of his nylon sweatpants.

"I think I may have come to the wrong house," he said, looking around the patio of the home in the 1300 block of Constitution Avenue NE.

"I'm sorry," he told the group. "Can I get a hug?"

No. No!

Rowan, who lives in Falls Church and works part time at her children's school, stood up and wrapped her arms around him. Then it was Rabdau's turn. Then his wife's. The other two guests complied.

"That's really good wine," the man said, taking another sip. He had a final request: "Can we have a group hug?"

The five adults surrounded him, arms out.

This reads like a crazy Steve Martin sketch, or something. But this really happened; there was a call to 911 made. The cops were rightly irritated that the group hug hadn't been a little more, uh, forceful? maybe leading to some restraint of the uninvited, uh, guest? One of my readers used to live close to this neighborhood, I think, and I need some help. I am trying to buy a vowel here. Petty thugs are wine connoisseurs in the DC area? Anyway, here's the exciting conclusion.

There was this degree of disbelief and terror at the same time," Rabdau said. "Then it miraculously just changed. His whole emotional tone turned -- like, we're one big happy family now. I thought: Was it the wine? Was it the cheese?"

After the intruder left, the guests walked inside the house, locked the door and stared at each other. They didn't say a word. Rabdau dialed 911. Police arrived quickly and took a report. They also dusted for fingerprints -- so far, to no avail.

In the alley behind the home, investigators found the intruder's empty crystal wine glass on the ground, unbroken.

Wow. I guess it worked for them, thank God. And at least he had good manners, after he put that dangerous gun away.

So I was crunchy just now for at least 10 minutes -- scary! I'm back to being a regular cold beer American guy; Michelob is as fancy as I get. And slice that stinky cheese up and throw it on the burgers, for Heaven's sake!

As for the whole group therapy thing with a criminal, how's this grouping look?

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