It was bound to happen sooner or later. I’ve been doing this blog for five years now and can’t remember if I ever told this story. Sure, I could go looking back through five years’ worth of archives….or I could just assume that if I can’t remember, neither can you. Yeah, that’s the one I’m going with. And I tell this story in honor of my good friend Loralee’s birthday today. So happy birthday, Lor. This one’s for you.
When I first moved to Nashville from New York, one of the many jobs I had was working nights at the performing arts center downtown, which had me driving home on dark country roads well after midnight.
On one such night, as I was making my way back to my apartment, I saw something on the side of the road moving. Based on size and obvious appearance when it stood up, I shrieked in, well, utter terror as I realized it was a bear. Not Yogi. No, this was the real thing. I kept driving down the dark road to my apartment, envisioning the bear trotting behind me, licking his lips in anticipation of a late night snack named Ilene.
When I was safely inside my apartment, I nervously paced around, wondering if I should call someone to report it. The police? Animal control? Who does one call at 1am to report a bear sighting? And really, if some lady called the police saying she just saw a bear, would their first reaction be “I’ll get right on that,” or “maybe you should cut down on the crack, lady?”
I opted not to make the call. However, I did tell all my friends, who were slightly skeptical – that is until the news report a few days later about an unprecedented number of bear sightings in the area.
Talk of the bear was especially of interest to my New York friends, because, hey, how often does that happen?
Fast forward a few months to a visit home to New York. My friends, Loralee, Michele and I got tickets to a late night performance of Tony Danza at Rainbow and Stars, a cabaret venue located at the top of Rockefeller Center.
Now before you get all “Why Tony Danza?” on me, let me just say this about that – he taps dances and does a Louis Prima medley in his show. Need I say more? So unless you’re ready to do your rendition of “Zooma, Zooma” for me, quit your snickering.
Loralee and I drove into the city and met up with Michele for the show. After it was over, I drove Michele home to her apartment, which was located downtown, on a one-way street, lined with cars on both sides.
Michele got safely into her apartment, and Loralee and I were behind a taxicab waiting at a red light.
That’s when two guys with guns drawn walked up on either side of the taxi. But they didn’t go to the driver of the cab. They went for the passenger in the back seat.
These are the kinds of moments in life when time seems suspended. The obvious thought was that it was a robbery. But then, why didn’t they go for the driver who’d have the cash?
The next obvious thought was that, if this was a robbery, then we’d be next. So first reaction was Loralee saying, “Back up! Back up!” I turned to look behind me, and there was a long line of cars, single file. There was nowhere to go.
Do we duck? Would they shoot? Do you slither out of your car and make a run for it? These are decisions that must be contemplated and made in a matter of seconds.
The two guys with guns yanked the man out of the back seat of the cab and onto the street.
Were they undercover police? They flashed no badges and didn’t announce themselves as such. And I'd seen enough Law & Order episodes to know that that kind of stuff will get thrown out of court immediately.
Nope, they just yanked the guy out of the back seat of the cab. Then they hauled him across the street and tossed him into the back of an unmarked white van. Police? I'm thinking no.
The light finally turned green. It felt like an eternity. The cab pulled over to the side of the road. I think the poor driver might have been having a heart attack at this point.
I turned the corner and headed over toward the West Side Highway. I did not slow down. I did not stop. There was absolute silence in the car. Neither Loralee nor I said a word. My body started shaking involuntarily as I drove – a delayed reaction, no doubt, from the trauma.
We were safely zipping home on the highway when Loralee looked at me and said, “Beats the hell out of the bear, doesn’t it?!!”
Thanks for stopping by. Please tell your friends. And happy, happy birthday, Lor!!!