The fall/winter season is finally here: they've dug up the FLOWERS from around the downtown and federal center OFFICE BUILDINGS and planted ORNAMENTAL CABBAGES. 


Of all signs of fall, WIT MEMO awaits none more eagerly than the annual FALL GREEK FESTIVAL at ST. SOPHIA'S GREEK ORTHODOX CHURCH, a looked-forward-to event among in-the-know aficionados of fun things to do in DC, who turn out in droves to mix and mingle with the congregants and enjoy mouth-watering Greek cuisine, crafts, music and dancing in the giant white tent erected next to beautiful "St. Sophie's" along an especially scenic stretch of MASSACHUSETTS AVENUE, not far from the NAVAL OBSERVATORY and practically in the shadows of the magnificent NATIONAL CATHEDRAL. The event is a WIT MEMO "must," this year no exception, and as we neared St. Sophie's we found the crisp fall evening air filled with the tantalizing aromas of marinated lamb and souvlaki grilling over hot coals, happy voices, laughter, the shouts of the dancers, and the music of the Greek band, including that guitar-like instrument that we thought was called a bazuki but which we couldn't find in the dictionary just now. After stuffing our self with lamb grilled on a spit, moussaka, tiropetes, and orzo . . . not to mention bottles of Greek beer, tar-flavored retsina wine, and, -don't tell anyone about this- the occasional shot of ouzo dispensed by the counterman with a wink and a smile to knowing revelers, we plopped down on a plastic folding chair to watch the people dancing Greek folk dances in a great circle. 


Immediately our eyes were glued to two gorgeous young women, obviously sisters, who danced in that circle. Both around, oh, twenty years of age, they were such shining exemplars of feminine pulchritude that we dropped our beer and didn't jump up immediately to get another. These two bewitching young ladies were tall and Mediterranean, possessing a curvy, full-figured beauty reminiscent of classical statuary but which no artist could ever hope to capture, with smooth, olive skin, full lips, big hair cascading in effortless curls, and dark, fiery eyes. At that moment, I believed with all my heart that they were the most beautiful women I had ever seen in my life ... so beautiful that the memory makes me slip from the plural to the first person singular. Like the rube at a carnival side show I watched in slack-jawed wonder as they danced by, their movements revealing, perhaps unknowingly, the full extent of their physical grace with all its hints of sultry potential.


These beautiful girls were on either side of, and holding hands with, a large, robust, older man who, if looks mean anything, could be no one other than their father. This handsome mountain of a man was positively bursting with understandable pride, pride over what lovely young women his daughters had grown to be, his beaming smile displaying a set of perfect white teeth that rivaled their own. My front-row seat was just feet from the dancing circle, and each time these two girls swooshed past I felt myself drawn up out of my seat like a bit of lint following a staticky comb. Now, maybe it was the starry night, maybe it was the Greek wine and the ouzo - not to mention the tumblers of MAKER'S MARK I'd downed not long before at WIT MEMO headquarters to stimulate the digestive juices before dinner - but I knew that I had to act, to let them know that I was alive and that my life would be substantially less worth living if not shared with theirs. I determined to join them in their dance, even though I've never been one for those circular, all-join-hands folk dances (I always seem to end up holding hands with an excessively sweaty, heavily clumsy man), and, after that, to join them in the dance of life.


When the band finished the song and the girls released their father's hands to applaud, I saw my moment. The father had stepped a pace or so ahead of the sumptuous sisters as he clapped, and when I saw the band cock their instruments for the next number, I jumped up like a flash, slipped in behind him, seized his daughters' hands, and took off in the dance just as the music came up. My initiative prompted the whole circle to begin again a moment early; Dad was caught unawares and by the time he jumped back in he was a full quarter circle away, sandwiched between somebody's panel-truck-sized grandma and an eleven-year-old. The two lovely sisters seemed confused by the unexpected substitution of their dance partner but were too well-raised and polite to yank their hands away during the dance. Plus, they were doubtless being won over by my enthusiasm and agile footwork, or at least I'm pretty sure they would have been, had I not stumbled almost immediately over an electrical cord, or possibly my foot, and managed to avoid falling flat on my face only by tightening my grip on their hands and pulling for all my life was worth ("you are both strong and sturdy," I thought, once I'd hauled myself to my feet, "and you will bear me many children.") Dad, meanwhile, had finally located us after frantically scanning the circle of dancers, and one could tell right away he didn't like what he saw. For now, I was the one beaming with pride! My expressions were a window to the joy I felt in my heart! As we went round and round I did Groucho's eyebrow waggle, Harpo's leer, Tex Avery's Wolfie, even Jack Nicholson's yodel-lay-hee-hoo from "The Last Detail," each gesture stoking the girls' father's fury in new ways till he trembled like an overheated pressure cooker rattling on the stove. When I topped that off with some "keep-your-eyes-on-the-hands" undulations, he could take no more. With a great roar he charged like an angry bull! He knock me back a full ten feet and we both went down, him on top, his meaty hands locked around my elegant neck, squeezing with enraged might.


As consciousness faded I was faced with a dilemma: if I used my martial arts training and superior conditioning to free myself, I might very likely injure this man and traumatize his daughters, whose happiness was my only concern. Fortunately, I was spared this agonizing decision by the intervention of the security guards, who hauled my tormentor roughly to his feet and off to the parking lot behind the church, where, despite the protestations of the revelers, they commenced the administration of a savage beating. Of course, they had not seen the precipitating events, and when they rushed to the dance floor in response to the shouts and screams they saw what must have seemed a simple case of a crazed, drunken bully assaulting an innocent and much smaller festival participant. Plus, they had no way of knowing that the father was an esteemed member of the St. Sophia's community and generous donor to the building fund, since they were not St. Sophie's employees but rent-a-cops hired just for this occasion from the cheapest firm around; sadistic, grew-too-big, dull-affect hayseeds who look for nothing more in this life than an excuse for a punch-out, and who were now determined to make the most of this opportunity that presented itself in the form of an enraged combatant who just refused to be calmed down. I'm sure they thought they had no choice, really, as they unsheathed their truncheons and tasers and went to work. 


As for WIT MEMO, we slipped quietly away into the splendid night, having elected not to press charges or seek some recompense for our ruffled dignity. After all, we've still got our eyes on the lovely daughters ... and St. Sophia's annual SPRING festival is just around the corner! 

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