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Even a Happy Luncheon in Old Town Feels the Impact of Monday’s Horror

The retailer C. Wonder marked the opening of a new store, but the talk was of the shootings.

The C. Wonder luncheon at Restaurant Eve was sunny and bright, but some of the talk was of the Navy Yard shootings. Photograph by Carol Ross Joynt.

Washington, for all its “metro area” square miles, is still a small town, and when something catastrophic happens in one neighborhood, such as the Navy Yard shootings, we all feel the impact. For many, the dilemma is, When does life go back to normal? Do we keep the dinner dates, go to the game, use the theater tickets, have lunch and cocktails and enjoy the beautiful weather? The next day? Is that okay?

That uncertainty was palpable at a luncheon Tuesday at Restaurant Eve in Old Town Alexandria, hosted by C. Wonder to mark the opening of the retail chain’s second Washington-area store, at Pentagon City.

“My son didn’t want me to come,” said Leslie Gordon Johnson, managing director of the company’s Founders Club, as she greeted guests with a broad smile. At home in New York Monday night the family had watched the coverage of the shootings to the growing consternation of her 16-year-old. “He was afraid. He was worried that Washington would not be safe.” She assured him it would be okay. And, after a while, it was. Other guests at the lunch told their own stories, related not so much to fear as to the question of just how secure is secure.

Lunch was served: heirloom tomato salad with fresh chèvre and garden basil; a choice of a salad with Pine Ridge Farm rib eye or a shrimp and grits sandwich, and dessert of baked chocolate mousse with apricot jam, tea ice cream, and mint. Sunlight streamed through the windows of the private dining room, making tall flutes of rosé Champagne gleam.

For all the bonhomie of the occasion, the conversation returned again and again to the Navy Yard, the victims, the shooter, and the aftermath. Because in Washington when something so dreadful happens the harsh reality of violence and loss can’t be ignored at even the brightest of occasions.

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