It was still early when we got to The Galway Hooker, affectionately called "the Hooker", so there were plenty of tables around when we arrived. Ben and Ollie, who seemed to be the only ones who already knew everyone, pushed several tables together while the rest of us were "passing the 'Hello'". (I stole that term from Emma, who says meeting a whole group of people was like "passing the Peace" at church. You all smile politely, greeting and wishing each other well, but barely remembering whose hand you just shook when it is all over.)
First was Seb - Seb was one of Ben's friends from college. Another legacy name: Edward Sebastian Musgrave VII, of the Charles City County Musgraves. Unlike Ben he has followed his namesakes into the family law practice, nee political training camp. Just like Ben, he had freely chosen the path in life he wanted; it was mere coincidence that it was what his family expected.
Seb's Wife - Sadie had been one of Ben's college girlfriends, who found herself more enamoured of his best friend than of Ben himself. Everyone seems happy with how it all worked out though. Sadie appears perfectly suited to be a politicians wife in her kick-pleated, pressed khaki skirt, lilac cashmere twin set, crocodile pumps and pearls, and even though this was far from standard Irish pub attire, Sadie came across perfectly comfortable and at ease in the environment.
The Twins - Elijah and Joel Wolff were also UVA buddies of Ben's and currently run the Benjamin Holitz IV empire, among other ventures. Eli handles all legal matters while Joel tweaks the numbers. Both of them seem to be constantly cooking up new schemes. Apparently in college they convinced Ben and Seb that starting their own fraternity was better than kow-towing to someone else's rules. Seems the plan has paid dividends, literally. The frat, Eta Mu Omega (HMW for short never EMO), still exists but was structured so that each chapter, currently there 33, must pay charter and member dues to the national organization, which has four members. Each chapter has to be rechartered every year at a rate of $10,000. The reason given being that constant re-evaluation of chapters and membership insures that no chapter can ever "go rogue" and disparage the memory of the founders. In addition, members must pay $300 per semester in dues.
So what does all that money get them? "An African-American, two Jews and a WASP to hang on the wall, stationary, a box of t-shirts bearing the crest, and invitations for members and their friends to "special discount vacations" (booked through Janus Tours, which is wholly owned by the twins), and discounted website hosting and maintenance through Bad Wolff Marketing (also wholly owned by the twins)" Joel explained.
What is most remarkable about the whole operation is that they formulated the entire thing aged 18 and it has remained successful for 12 years enduring collegiate inquests and IRS scrutiny. They may be the smartest guys I have ever met.
"It is a good thing you two were split in utero. All that brain power in one person would unmake the world. Gates and Murdock would be your pool boys," Olie said.
"Actually," Eli replied "we probably would have landed in an asylum from too many ideas bouncing around in the mind and no way of deciding which one to pursue first due to their equal brilliance and the fact that we would have no one to talk to, our brain being so vastly superior of that of a mere homosapien." Eli excused himself while we all continued to laugh and wandered over to the bar to 'check this evening's menu' or pick up chicks as I came to understand.
"As it is," Joel continued, "it is very hard for us to relate to you people at half strength. We are very lucky to have each other for support."
In the midst of all of this, the waitress brought over a tray of Red-Headed Hookers, the house brew, and Lemon Drops. Olie, Seb and the Twins proceeded to trade stories about Ben from prep school and college; Ben and Luke were debating engine configurations, I think, it was very technical and way over my head; which left us girls to chat about the last episode of 'Grey's Anatomy', Celebdaq and trade recipes.
We went on to argue about the points structure for the Chase, the best section to sit in that the speedway, crew chief superiority, Tony Stewart's attitude - conceited prick or victim of regional prejudice. In the midst of what was becoming a very heated discussion regarding the state of the lack of southern appreciation for the Great Lakes and Mid-West working class, particularly their straight-forwardness and dry sense of humour, Eli returned from chatting up a couple of girls at the bar. Suddenly, Joel broke conversation and grabbed Ben’s arm, looking around suspiciously.
“Eli's coming”, Joel said.
“Eli?” Ben asked. “From the Three Dog Night song?”
“Yes,” Joel replied.
“Guys! Must you always do this bit?” Seb asked.
“YES!” came back in stereo.
“Eli's something bad. A darkness,” Joel continued.
"’Eli's coming, hide your heart girl?’” Ben paused. “Eli's an inveterate womanizer. I think you're getting the song wrong.”
“I know I'm getting the song wrong, but when I first heard it, that's what I always thought it meant, and things stick with you that way.”
“Seriously! Must you run through that every time we get together?” Seb demanded.
“Of course,” replied Joel. “One, it perfectly sums up Eli - bad twin and unscrupulous playboy. Two, who doesn’t have a soft spot in their heart for the underappreciated brilliance of Sports Night?”
“Unscrupulous!?” Eli feigned offense.
It seems Joel is mildly obsessed with Aaron Sorkin. He went on to discuss similarities between Sports Night and The West Wing. Eventually, he was talking to himself, although before I wandered to other conversations it was made very clear to me that Sorkin is lucky one can’t be prosecuted for self plagiarism.
The rest of the night was spent laughing at Eli and Joel as they told the most ridiculous stories, which Ben, Seb and Sadie kept insisting were true. Like when their friendly campus pot dealer, Paco, hired Joel to do some "consulting" for him. Seems Paco thought that some of his crew were cheating him so he had Joel go undercover as "Joe-L from Little Havana" and infiltrate the crew from the bottom up, assessing the accounting controls and risk at each level. Through further consult with Eli, Paco was convinced to open a homeopathic remedy store and make his entire crew employees. Most of the guys who were skimming weren't legal, so they were eliminated and of the rest some had no interest in "going straight". Those who hired on were rewarded with the option to pick up the other guys territory or take a legitimate job with full benefits. Most chose the latter, cause as we all know, no one works for the money. We work for the employment trinity - medical, dental, vision.
After several rounds of Hookers and plenty of opportunities to laugh at the guys adolescent faux pas, except for Luke whom no one seemed to have any dirt on, we said our goodbyes. Ben and friends promised to tailgate with us for awhile before the race, but were vehemently against meeting us anytime before 1pm. This of course caused the insults to fly; crazy, fair-weather fan, fanatic, narcoleptic, insomniac, pretty-boy, redneck. We got back a little before midnight; just in time for me to finish off the.