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The Kindness of Strangers

We were on the Eagle's roof deck last night, enjoying a cold draft , a cool breeze, and several refreshing views, when a guy came up to me with a tentative look on his face. I figured he was going to ask for a cigarette or a light or something.

"Excuse me, " he said and I reached inside my pocket for the Marlboro Lights (I only have them for such enabling occiasions, to be social).

"Did you used to live in New Orleans?"

I said yes, about a hundred years ago.

"Did you used to hang out at the Bourbon Pub?"

Well, who didn't? "Um, yeah, but it was really a long time ago. My name's Bob," I said, leaving the smokes in my pocket and holding out my hand.

"I know, I remember. I'm A ... we met around 1985," and we shake hands. I introduce him to Larry, and he says, "Do you know why I recognize you?"

We tricked? I My friends bought drugs from you? We worked together? We had mutual friends? A litany of possiblities ran through my head, although no bells were ringing.

"Sorry, I don't."

Seems he was at the Pub one night and we started talking. He was married at the time (Bob talking to a married man in New Orleans gay bar in 1985? Not so totally out of the realm of possibility), but had some psycho boyfriend who was causing him trouble (again, not really a surprise in the French Quarter).

Evidently, said psycho came into the bar that night, all loaded up on something and started becoming abusive and I "got into a fight with him" to get him leave A. alone.

"I did?"

"Yes, it was the first time anybody had ever fought for me, and I've never forgotten. You still look the same ... maybe a little grayer (gee, thanks), but I totally recognize your face. You called me a couple times after and I moved not long after that. I just wanted to say thank you and it's good to see you."

So we talked some more, played catch up. He's been in NY now some 15 years and has left corporate world to venture into club promotions. "It's what I've always wanted to do."

Hmmm, another one who's following his bliss. When it rains it pours.

Turns out I didn't actually get into a physical fight (shocking), but got all up in psycho's face, gave him a good loud cussing out and sent him packing. Ah, the bravery of youth, no doubt fueled by a lot of vodka, and the knowledge that I knew most of the bartenders (it pays to be a regular).

The whole situation seems like it could be a memory, but a fuzzy one at best.

So now, almost a two decades later, he wants to pay back my galantry. And, I can get on the guest list for a Tuesday night party in Astoria or a monthly gay Arabic dance party.

Ah, the beer blast at the Eagle ... you never know what you'll find.