When Neil met Rudy

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon in June of 1993.  I was walking on East 79th Street in Manhattan with a group of friends.  We had just come from a church basement after attending a meeting of an internationally known support group.

Our small group was heading to a coffee shop on the corner of East 79th Street and 1st Avenue to sit together and shoot the breeze.  It was just friends going to spend a little while talking about this and that.

As we neared the intersection we saw a small group of men gathered.  What made them stand out was what they were wearing — suits on a summer Sunday!  Who were these guys?  Were they police looking for someone?  A religious group preparing for some passionate proselytizing?

What also made them noticeable was the film crew that was gathered nearby.  A camera operator and a sound engineer were leaning against a wall, smoking cigarettes, and waiting for something to happen.

As we got closer the film crew pushed themselves away from the wall and got their gear ready. The group of men in suits looked in our direction and seemed to be preparing themselves for our arrival.

What was going to happen?  “We” were going to happen!

One of the dark-suited men broke away from his group and walked towards us with his hand outstretched and a big, toothy, beaming grin on his face.  The film crew gathered right behind him, aiming their camera and microphone at us like fishermen focusing fishing poles toward a particular spot in the water, expecting a trout to jump out and gobble the hook.

I stuck out my hand to shake the hand of the grinning suit because I’m courteous and I have to admit I was curious who this person was who seemed so eager to meet us.

“Hi, I’m Rudy Giuliani and I’m running for Mayor of New York City”, the smiler declared to me and our group. “How are you guys doing today?”

Holding his hand in a tight handshake, I matched him smile-for-smile and said, “I’m doing absolutely great.  I just came from an AA meeting!”

Suddenly the smiler ripped his hand from mine, frowned ferociously, turned his back on me and made the “cut camera” motion with his now-free hand to the film crew. The men in suits scuttled away from us as fast as possible, followed by the crew, presumably to find less tainted subjects to sidle up to.

At first I was dumbfounded but then it dawned on me what I should do next.  It became as clear as the blue Sunday sky on that June afternoon.

I knew who I wasn’t going to get, and didn’t get, my vote for Mayor in November of 1993.

True story.





About nhbrownlee

Advertising copywriter, Creative Director and state of New York college professor. I love true stories. Who doesn't?
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