The weekend after September 11 (you know which year I mean), my best friend T and I were sitting by the lake, talking about the week's events, when a middle-aged man in a bright yellow wifebeater shirt interrupted our conversation to say he was from Jersey and he was totally wigged out by the attack. T and I felt surprisingly indulgent toward him, despite his somewhat rude usurpation of our conversation; I was just too weirded out by anything to care, and T thought he had something of significance to say, since he was wearing a yellow tank top, and she'd had a dream that there was a "golden triangle" in a Western city. (It was a strange time - it all made sense then.)
The conversation with Mr. Jersey was random but not particularly scary, and we parted ways agreeing that the world was going crazy. A couple of years later I was walking home from work when a car pulled up next to me, and the driver said, "How ya doin'?" He was wearing sunglasses and a tie-dye T-shirt, and I realized it was Mr. Jersey, so I did something very stupid: I got into his car. It didn't take me long to figure out what a mistake that was! His breath smelled boozy, and he kept putting his hands all over me, but when I complained he said Italians are just touchy-feely by nature. Gone was the bizarre but harmless rambler speaking cryptically of the New World Order; this man was just a loopified and louche letch. I was frightened to be in a car with him, so when he offered to buy me dinner downtown at "Louie's Lounge, " I jumped at the chance to at least give him time to sober up. He bought me a sandwich at Louie's Lounge but only had a "sandwich in a cup," a stein of beer, although he certainly did not need any more liquification. When he got up to recycle the beer, I seized the chance to dash out the back door of Louie's Lounge.
Once on the street, I wasn't sure what to do so I dove into the backdoor of "¡Café Olé!" next door, wove through barristas and patrons carrying cappuccinos and croissants, and bolted out the front door. I was dashing toward Our Lady of Perpetual Sobriety, where they were having a Knights of Columbus meeting, to seek the protection of all those men, when a bus pulled up at the bus stop. I got on it, figuring I could take it wherever it went (away from Mr. Jersey, that's the important thing!) and then transfer to one going back to my house, but as it turned out that wonderful vehicle dropped me off within a few blocks of home. I felt extremely lucky - and stupid - and most of my friends were horrified by this story, but T thought it was thrilling.
The moral of the story: men from Jersey in brightly-colored shirts are not always our friends.