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I caught the end of the 6 O’Clock news on WJLA last night, the last few seconds of a piece on Tom Sarris’ Orleans House. I couldn’t hear what the anchors were saying, but I knew the place was only newsworthy if it was shutting down. I called up the Rosslyn landmark immediately.
Sure enough: “We’re closing on January 15,” said the woman answering the phone.
It’s being being torn down to make room for a another high-rise, she said. She sounded sad.
This hits me where I live. Or, well, lived.
I went to Orleans House before my prom in 1979. I can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, but I clearly remember being at that restaurant that night in a white tux, ordering prime rib (the “Mammoth Cut”) and eating jello from a huge salad bar shaped like a boat, and, though everybody in our foursome (all of whom I saw at a party in Centreville last Saturday, coincidentally) was either 16 or 17 years old, ordering a few bottles of wine. I also recall that the wine was Lancers, a mass-marketed brand in the ’70s, and that it came in a brownish clay decanter, just like in the ads, and that it cost $8 a bottle. I’d never ordered wine before.
I remember thinking this was the high life.
Before hanging up, I told the sad-sounding lady from Orleans House that I’ll miss the place. I think what I meant was: I miss 1979. Everything but the white tux…