Halloween weekend was the last time I saw him.
He was too cute: a short Jew with blond hair, absolutely perfect teeth (my weakness), and a knack for sarcasm. You wouldn’t know from looking at him, but he had a level of OCD to rival mine.
That weekend, I somehow peer pressured him into meeting me in a neighborhood he preferred not to frequent. He came straight from a charity event and wore a nice suit. I, on the other hand, was dressed as a rocker, socializing with two nerds, a panda, and a “pussy magnet.” He spent about ten minutes making it very clear he did not want to be there and we left.
Neither of us had a coat, but we ventured out to find a cab anyway. Huge mistake. My friends left fairly shortly after we did and found cabs almost immediately. He and I, however, spent about 30 minutes braving piercing winds trying to find a way home. He yelled at me, whined about the cold (as though I was toasty warm and couldn’t empathize with his discomfort), and repeatedly shot down any solution I suggested.
While yelling at me for things I cannot control will undoubtedly make the wind stop and a cab appear, I foolishly decided to try something else. I called one of the girls, and her boyfriend, I was out with and begged them to turn their cab around and pick us up. I needed the night to be over.
The boy and I posted up on a corner and waited to be rescued. While bouncing around to stay warm, a tall young man in a t-shirt began talking to us. Drunk, but seemingly harmless, he volunteered the information that his girlfriend was trying to find him to pick him up; he asked us how far away she was (very) and let us know that he couldn't even call her because he had both their cellphones. Solid planning. He and I spoke for a few minutes and to my suggestion that he go wait inside a nearby fast food restaurant, he said, “Hey, do you think I could use one of your phones? I can figure out how to get the number I need, but I can’t make it dial.”
Umm…no. Unfortunately for him, the stranger got stuck with two extremely neurotic people and it didn’t help that he just plain didn’t make any sense. I said nothing and the boy politely declined, falsely inserting that his phone had died. Just as the boy was whispering to me not to use my phone, my friend – our rescuer – called. Assuming she was back and trying to find me, I answered.
The stranger began cursing me out (I heard none of it; the boy told me later), infuriated that I dared to use the phone that belonged to me without letting him, a crazy stranger, use it. Before I knew what was happening, the stranger took a swing at the boy. The boy effortlessly ducked under the stranger’s arm, causing the stranger to lose balance and face plant off the curb into the street. Seeing an opportunity for escape (because really, whom is he going to fight?), the boy took off running. Into traffic. And the stranger stood up and took off after him. Now silently on the phone with my friend, I confusedly watched the two boys weave in and out of traffic like a very scary, adult game of tag.
As I tried to piece together what exactly was happening, through the phone I heard a piercingly loud scream and shouts of, “That’s him!” Of all the cars in the street, the boy and the stranger had totally by coincidence thrown themselves up against my friend’s backseat cab window and were rolling down the length of the car, arms flailing. As they peeled themselves off the side of the cab, the stranger stripped the boy’s nice suit jacket off and threw it to the ground. In response, the boy grabbed the stranger’s t-shirt in an attempt to pull him down and make it stop. Instead, he just ripped that t-shirt right off the stranger’s body.
The now shirtless stranger chased the boy up onto the curb. (I wish I didn’t have to end the story this way, but I find it hard to believe the details were irrelevant to how it played out.) My friend’s boyfriend – a tall black man – stepped out of the cab, and only calmly asked, “What is going on?” And the chase ended.
“Nothing. It’s cool,” the stranger said. And he wandered away into the night. Shirtless and alone.
I, of course, spent the rest of the evening beside myself with laughter and woke up the next morning still laughing. Actually, I still laugh. We texted a little after that, but it didn’t work out.