July 14, 2011 by David Gillaspie
In 1969 what appeared to be stoned out hippies danced in the Woodstock mud. Five years later most of them took a shower, got a haircut, and danced in discos.
In this context it’s easy to see why top New York discos needed the best people running the lines that grew out the door and down the sidewalk most weekends.
This is a post about one such man.
Most everyone could get into Adam’s Apple, just not all once. If you weren’t getting in for some reason, Gary spotted you in line.
One night a man showed up so ploughed he couldn’t stand without the wall. When he did stand, his girlfriend nearly fell.
He wasn’t getting in.
Gary knew the man. He knew the woman with him wasn’t his wife. It was an off-duty cop with a girlfriend, too drunk to go home, and too drunk to get into Adams Apple.
“Come on, Tony. Tonight’s not the night,” Gary said approaching the drunk.
“You don’t tell Tony nothing, you. Who do you think you are. Tony, who is this guy,” the woman said.
Tony closed his eyes, his chin rolling on his chest.
“Nothing. Not nothing,” he said.
“Nothing what, Tony. This guy named nothing,” the woman said, moving in time with Tony’s loose head.
“You know how it is, Tony. Not tonight. This is the wrong place for you.”
Tony nodded his head once before his chin went back to his chest.
“You telling Tony what to do? Good one, doorman. Let me tell you, me and Tony are going inside. Here’s a fifty, let’s go.”
Gary pushed the money back into the woman’s head.
“You need to understand, this won’t work out,” he said.
“Understand this, pollack.” She flips him the bird.
“I’m Hungarian, but thank you. Tony. Tony? I’ll get a cab. It’s time to go.”
A cab stopped. The woman tripped with Tony’s weight on her and fell hard against the cab.
“Did you see that, Tony? That bastard punched me. He punched me right in front of you, Tony. He can do that?” she said.
Hearing those words, Tony squared his shoulders and seemed fifteen drinks lighter. He stepped toward Gary pointing his finger on his extended hand. It’s an old street-fighter trick to get your opponent’s attention on anything except the fist you’re ready to throw.
“Punch my girl? You,” and Tony threw his other fist.
Gary caught the punch in his hand.
“No Tony. I didn’t punch anyone. Neither have you. We’re even. There’s the cab,” he said, easing him toward the backseat.
The woman wasn’t in the cab. She came out nowhere to land on Gary’s back. She hooked her arms around his neck. He dipped a shoulder to shake her off. Her heel kicked Tony in the head while he leaned against the cab.
“Punching me now?” he said, turning.
The woman rolled off Gary’s back and to the sidewalk. Tony stared at her, then charged Gary.
“Tony, Tony. No, Tony. Not here. Come on.”
He stepped out of the way as Tony fell past, lost his balance, and skidded on his face.
The woman looked up from the sidewalk. Tony lifted his face, all road rash and blood. He rolled to his knees.
Gary leaned over to help the woman. She kicked at him just as Tony made his final lunge of the night. Gary sidestepped him and he fell headlong onto the woman who kneed him in the nuts on the way down.
It’s all part of the job. Get people in and out, keeping them in line while they’re on line. Gary knew the job, when to push and when to pull.
Tony stood near the cab, steadying his head to focus on Gary.
“This not over. Ish not over. You hear that? Over.”
“Sure, Tony. Over. Not over. Over and out. Get home safely. Say hello to the missus.”
“Sure. You’ll see.”