Thursday, May 18, 2006

Street Theatre: One Angry Man

Around midnight one recent Thursday, a private party was winding down at a high-priced bar on 23rd Street. Outside, a short dark man in rumpled business casual was screaming at the bouncers. Sweat plastered locks of straight black hair to his head and a bag of groceries kept one hand busy, but he used the other to point and wave wildly over the velvet rope.

“You don’t have a job tomorrow, and you don’t have a job tomorrow, and you don’t have a job tomorrow!” The bouncers just watched him, murmuring occasionally to one another or letting legitimate guests into the party. When the angry hand came too close, an Asian bouncer in a black leather duster said flatly, "Touch me and you're dead." The shouter wasn't immediately deterred, but he vented a while longer and eventually walked away. A minute later he came lurching back, screamed some more, and left again.

Afterward, the oldest of the bouncers, a black man in an impeccable suit and tie, said, "We get guys like that a few times a week. Not often, but more than we'd like." The duster added, "Sometimes the smallest guys are the most aggressive. Especially when they drink."

I coasted east on my bike to see if the angry man was causing any more trouble. By the time I spotted him, he'd quieted down and was making his way heavily toward Seventh Ave. He peered closely at a restaurant menu, hesitated out front, and then moved on to cross the street and descend into the uptown subway station.

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