August, 1975

I'm not in the mood

Sandy and I are living in a studio apartment close to Washington Square Park in New York City's Greenwich Village.

Mid-August, early afternoon on the hottest day of the year, I've gone food shopping. I'm walking east on Christopher Street, carrying two full bags of groceries, sweating from the heat, unable to shake a bad mood caused by getting only a few hours of sleep the night before.

Someone steps up to me from behind and presses what feels like the barrel of a gun against my back. He says, “Give me your money or I'll blow your fucking head off.”

I turn my head and look at him over my shoulder, hoping to get a quick read. Is he scared? Crazy? I can't tell. He's wearing a cap and sunglasses. I say, “It's a hundred degrees out, I'm carrying two heavy bags, I'm tired and you're mugging me? I'm not in the mood.”

I continue to walk toward our apartment. He again presses the same object against my back and says, “Maybe you didn't hear me. I said give me your money or I'll blow your fucking head off.”

I look into his sunglasses. “Maybe you didn't hear me,” I tell him. “I'm tired. I'm carrying two heavy bags on a very hot day. I'm not in the mood.”

His mouth opens slightly and I walk into the middle of Christopher Street. I see two men across the street who have stopped to watch the mugging. I turn back to the man still standing where he tried to mug me. He runs west on the sidewalk and dashes north on a side street.

I cross the street to where the two men are standing and one of them says, “It looked like he was mugging you.”

“Yeah,” I say, “he tried to.”

“What happened?”

“I told him I was tired, I was carrying two heavy bags on a very hot day and I wasn't in the mood.”

“Could have gone a different way,” the other man says. “You were lucky.”

“Yes,” I agree, “I was lucky.”

I walk home and put my groceries away, thinking, that was the dumbest thing you've ever done. A few days later, I buy a second wallet and put ten single dollar bills in it with a few business cards. If I'm ever mugged again, I won't hesitate. I'll give the mugger the wallet with the ten singles in it.

Summer, 1977

A chance meeting

I'm standing in front of Balducci's market, Sixth Avenue and West 9th Street in Manhattan, enjoying a morning summer breeze, feeling relaxed, feeling good.

A radiantly beautiful woman with red hair steps from the flow of people walking on the sidewalk and approaches me. She stops with her face about two feet from mine. We smile at each other.

She looks into my eyes and embraces me lovingly in her arms. I don't say “What do you think you're doing?” I don't say anything.

She gently presses her lips against mine. I figure she's mistaking me for an old boyfriend of hers. What the hell.

She parts her lips and we kiss passionately for about two minutes. Then we hug and she says, “I'm tripping on LSD.”

I ask, “How's your trip?”

“Beautiful. The city is a jewel. We're all jewels.”

“Have you kissed other strangers today?”

“No, just you.”

“When did you take the acid?”

“Early this morning, with my boyfriend. I wanted to go for a walk. He wanted to play his trumpet. He's a musician. He's back at our apartment, 28th and Sixth.”

“Are you going back now?”

“Yes. Do you want to walk with me and meet Tom?”

“ Sure .”

We walk north on the sidewalk. I ask, “What is your LSD trip like?”

She stops walking, touches my face and takes my hand to her face. “Everything is beautiful,” she says. “You. Me. The buildings. The sidewalk.”

“Are you hallucinating?”

“For a while I saw faces in the buildings, but mostly no. I'm having a wonderful day.”

At 28th Street, we walk to the building where she lives, enter the lobby and take an elevator to the 4th floor. As the elevator doors open, we hear the distant sound of a trumpet, which grows louder as we walk down the hall. She opens her apartment door and I follow her into a studio with large windows overlooking 28th Street. Standing in front of a window, facing us, is a young man with curly brown hair, playing a trumpet, wearing only boxer shorts.

He stops playing and moves the trumpet a few inches from his mouth. Then he lowers the trumpet and gives me a what's-up look.

“Hi,” I say

“Who are you?” he asks.

“I'm Scott.”

“Why are you here?”

I shrug. “A chance meeting.”

She says, “I kissed him in front of Balducci's. He walked me home.”

He plays a riff on his trumpet.

She tells me, “He'd like you to leave now.”

“OK,” I say, and I walk with her to the front door.

She smiles at me and says, “Trippy.”

I laugh. “Very trippy.” She opens the door and closes it behind me. I walk home.

"I'm not in the mood,” and “A chance meeting,”are two of three stories that Scott read when he was a guest on the podcast,“Disabilities Empowerment Now,” November 4, 2023. If you have interest in listening to this episode, click on the arrow.