I get my PG-13 thrills on the mean streets of Sarasota.




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By Hannah Wallace


My first trip to Manhattan was in January of 2002, to see my uncle in a (painfully short-lived) Neil Simon production on Broadway. Ma and I flew into Newark, got our bags and waited in line for a cab. As we stood there, the cabbie wrangler got into it with one of the drivers, and there was a lot of shouting at a sort of cinematic volume. I was thrilled. “THIS is exactly what I wanted out of New York,” I told my mother.


So long as it’s actually harmless, being witness to (and sometimes participating in) tussles and not-quite-country-club behavior can be fun. I called it “posing against propriety” a while back, and I still don’t have a better way of putting it. Maybe there’s an intrinsic thrill in imagining someone clutching her pearls and fainting over my toughness and nonchalance in the face of the darker side of humanity. Sometimes the movie in my head is film noir.


Anyway, last week my parents joined CCB and me for a post-Vernona beer at the Broadway. They were, after all, part of the Asolo crowd that would meet for opening or closing night celebrations at the divey old bars-on-the-windows, walk-up-package-liquor-counter Broadway. And, last week, right on cue, we got to see another highly entertaining cabbie-squabble moment: As we stood in the corner by the bar, my mother telling what I’m sure was a very engrossing story about something I can’t remember, I was distracted by a woman—not a particularly young woman—wearing a very short skirt and a shiny top, and talking loudly to a man seated at the end of the bar.


She’d walked outside for a moment, then come back in, an unlit cigarette dangling out of her mouth, followed shortly after by another woman, similarly dressed, and looking a little the worse for wear. (Keep in mind, it’s 7:30 and still very light outside.) The first woman points out her, um, associate to the man at the bar and says, “See? What’d I tell you. Nice, right?”


At this point, I have to interrupt my mother: “Um, I’m sorry, are they hooking?” Ma doesn’t miss a beat—“Oh, probably”—and continues on with her story. Two minutes later, the loudest voice became the bartender shouting at the first woman, “All right, that’s it, get out of here!” and quickly, but noticeably, escorted her out of the building. According to CCB (who wasn’t even pretending to listen to my mother), she’d asked the bartender for a light, and he made very sure she understood that there was no smoking inside. Not long after, she’d borrowed a lighter from her associate and lit her cigarette, which prompted the tossing. The other woman, now seated on the man’s lap, called after her, “Hey, I’m gonna need my lighter back!”


God, I love that place.


We’ll be there again tonight for dinner—Dad’s on a crusade to find real New York pizza, which he says has something to do with the sauce. (He also says the closest he’s come to finding the sauce is in Chef Boyardee home pizza kits, so take his palate with a grain of salt.) It’d be fun to see more craziness, but at least I can vouch for the food either way.