“Fannie, Clarissa was telling me you and Richard had quite an engagement party,” said Bunny, handing me a cup of coffee.
“Well, I don’t know that it was that exciting,” I said looking at Clarissa.
“Come on, Fannie, when have you and Richard ever done anything like normal people?” asked Clarissa. “Besides, you tell the story better.”
“Well, if you put it that way,” I said raising one eyebrow. “Bunny, you have to realize this was the first time our families met. We drove down to meet Richard’s family in Oregon.”
Richard sat between my younger sister, Eleanor, and myself in the back seat of the mobile land yacht. A yellow Volkswagen Beetle passed us on the freeway.
“Slug bug,” said Eleanor punching Richard in the arm.
Richard rubbed his arm. He glared at Eleanor but remained quiet.
Moments later a sky blue Beetle passed.
Eleanor leaned forward said, “Slug Bug,” then fed us both knuckle sandwiches.
Two dozen Beetles later I said, “El, enough. There must be more Volkswagen Beetles on the west coast than any other part of the country and our arms are starting to show it.”
The mobile land yacht required feeding outside of Chehalis. Exiting the freeway, my father made a wide right turn into the gas station. Eleanor leaned against Richard with the weight of a falling tree pushing me into the door. My face left a mark on the window.
“That’s it, this means war,” said Richard. Wrapping his arm around her head, he administered The Purple Nurple. Eleanor squealed in pain.
“That’s enough out of both of you. Do I need to separate you? Honestly, Richard, I would think at your age you’d be above such childish games,” said my mother. “As for you, Eleanor, one more peep out of you and you’ll be sitting up front between your father and me. Is that understood?”
The arched look on her face took the wind out of Eleanor’s sail.
We arrived in Milwaukie without further incident.
Picnic tables covered with food filled the shelter. The sky opened up forcing Richard’s family into the shelter. Rain cascaded from our hair while our clothing clung to our shivering bodies as we dashed for the shelter. The smell of wet earth mingled with chicken and potato salad.
After hurried introductions, my father said, “I have some friends down in Eugene with a restaurant. How do you feel about driving for some amazing Greek Food?”
“Anything to get out of this rain,” said Paul, Richard’s father.
“I have a buddy with a motel in Springfield. We can get a great rate on some rooms, get cleaned up and have a good hot, dry meal,” said my father to the shivering crowd. “Anyone who’s interested follow me.”
The mobile land yacht lead seven cars and two minivans toward Springfield.
Two hours and ten rooms later, with the special family rate in hand, we cleaned up then headed south via our favorite route to Poppi’s Greek Restaurant.
The clouds thinned as the sun set. In the waining light, a large detour sign blocked our time honored path heading us on a circuitous route north and away from Poppi’s.
My father said, “I know a short cut.”
My mother groaned.
Turning the mobile land yacht down an alley, seven cars and two minivans followed like ducks in a row.
An alarm echoed down the walls of the alley. The mobile land yacht turned the corner. A dozen police cars with flashing red lights blocked the entrance to the parking lot of a strip mall.
Twenty police officers with weapons drawn faced down three men in black ski masks.
“Drop your weapons and get face down on the ground,” said one of the officers.
Looking at each other they tossed guns to the ground along with two gym bags. All three suspects dropped to the ground.
Our way forward block by police vehicles, the caravan stopped behind us. A few officers holstered their weapons after hand cuffing the suspects. They gathered near one of the squad cars.
My mother said to my father, “Honey, this would be the ideal time to ask for directions.”
Rolling his eyes, my father rolled down the window.
He said, “Excuse me officer, we’re lost. Would you give us directions to Poppi’s Greek Restaurant?”
The officer eyed my mother and shook his head.
“I’ve never heard of it.” He turned to the other officers, “Hey, does anyone know where Poppi’s Greek Restaurant is?”
After a brief discussion, a muffled voice said, “I know where it is.”
The officers looked at each other. Our officer said, “Who said that? Can you speak up, I can’t hear you over the alarm.”
“I said I know where Poppi’s is.”
Laughter erupted from the officers surrounding the suspects.
“Hey Declan, one of our geniuses here says he knows where the restaurant is,” said an officer near the suspects.
“Well let’s have it then. We haven’t got all night,” said Declan, “we need to get these people outta here.
From his face-down position, suspect number three said, “You need to take a left out of the parking lot and go through the first stop light.” Relaying the directions through Officer Declan to my father, my mother copied them down. “You can’t miss it, it’s behind Lenny’s Nosh Bar,” said suspect number three.
An officer moved his car. Driving between the police cars, the rest of the caravan witnessed the aftermath of the arrest. Turning left from the parking lot, we arrived at the restaurant ten minutes later.
“We had quite a lively conversation over dinner that night,” I said, taking a sip of coffee. “My only regret is we’ll never be able to say thank you to the alleged robbery suspect for getting us to a favorite restaurant, but I’m sure they still talk about us at the Eugene Police Department,” I said smiling.