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Fight Club

New York is a city of public battles -- and of voyeurs. Here are some wars you may have missed.

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The Scene: The Chelsea flea market.

The Players: A young couple -- "hyper-yuppies who take their decorating very seriously," says Andy, a fashion exec who witnessed the battle.

What Happened: "A woman was in tears over this hideous Barcelona-chair reproduction," recalls Andy, who watched in horror as she began thumping her boyfriend's chest and repeatedly moaning, "I want it!" Her partner, while fending off her blows, coolly responded, "I'm sorry, but it's just not my style."

The Aftermath: "I couldn't take it -- they were both so annoying," Andy says. "So I walked up and bought the chair."

The Scene: A Brooklyn house party.

The Players: Gary and Lara, a couple who had, in classic New York style, decided to end their relationship at a fête hosted by a friend, John.

What Happened: "She was drunk," John recalls. "Then she threw a cocktail on him." Gary, drenched, screamed, "That's it! We're breaking up!" To exact her revenge, Lara disappeared into the master bedroom with another woman. When an unsuspecting Gary stumbled upon the lesbian encounter, Lara looked up with a grin and cooed, "Gary, would you mind sparing me a cigarette?"

The Aftermath: "It was ugly," remembers John, "but to tell you the truth, their breakup saved my party."

The Scene: A Rite Aid in Chelsea.

The Players: Michael and Veronica, recent college grads.

What Happened: After a romantic dinner fueled by several glasses of wine, the pair strolled over to the drugstore for condoms. "But I was broke after shelling out my money for pasta," says Veronica, who assumed her investment-banker boyfriend could spring for a pack of Trojans. A fight ensued, and she began ripping boxes off the shelves and throwing them at him. "Have sex with yourself tonight," she hissed. "That way you won't have to pay for rubbers!"

The Aftermath: Veronica raced back to their apartment and locked herself in the bedroom -- the only room with AC. "The cheap bastard slept on his sticky pleather couch in the middle of summer," she happily recalls.

The Scene: An East Village bodega.

The Players: Sammy, a broadcasting exec, and his boyfriend.

What Happened: It was a typical weekday night of grocery shopping. "We were talking, and my boyfriend was getting upset about how I was never at home and we never saw each other," Sammy recalls. By the time the pair entered the deli, what had begun as a conversation had mutated into a full-blown argument. "That night I was supposed to tape an episode of Deep Space Nine." As they stood in line at the register, the boyfriend shrieked, "I can't believe you taped Star Trek and watched it without me! How could you?"

The Aftermath: "Everyone turned around and started staring and laughing at us," Sammy remembers. "It's one of the most embarrassing things that's ever happened to me."

The Scene: An Upper East Side pizzeria.

The Players: Bill, a 26-year-old actor, and his girlfriend, Jodi, a 25-year-old investment banker.

What Happened: "We were drinking pitchers of beer, bickering," says Bill. "I went to the bathroom, and when I came back, Jodi was making out with some strange-looking French guy." Bill howled, "What the hell are you doing -- we're in love!" while horrified onlookers gawked.

The Aftermath: His confession seemed to do the trick: The stranger apologized profusely and buried his head in his hands -- before spontaneously vomiting on the couple.

The Scene: A Lower East Side sidewalk.

The Players: A group of five pals with their friends David and Abigail, a couple who had been arguing the entire night.

What Happened: A fight between the lovebirds escalated in the street, and the cluster of friends watched in terror as David lifted a garbage can and hurled it before fleeing into the night. Abigail followed, leaving the friends standing amid a pile of rubbish. Then a group of large Dominican men approached. "Don't you fuckin' be throwin' trash all over our neighborhood," one menacingly uttered.

The Aftermath: The group attempted to explain what had happened, but to no avail. "They stood over us," one participant recalls, "and we proceeded to pick up every single piece of trash."

The Scene: An Upper East Side salon.

The Players: A late-twenties Wall Streeter, his blonde girlfriend, and his very, very blonde ex.

What Happened: "He was having his hair done and his girlfriend was waiting," recalls Danny, the stylist. Suddenly, the man's ex walked in and spied the couple. "Well, that didn't take long. You hooked up already?" she wailed. The patrons fell silent, while the ex unleashed a string of obscenities before stalking off. An explosion of laughter followed.

The Aftermath: "The ex-girlfriend never came back," Danny says. "But the guy and his new girl? They're still great clients of mine."

The Scene: 13th Street and Avenue A.

The Players: An unidentified couple and Joe, a 28-year-old musician.

What Happened: "I hear couples fighting almost every night," says Joe, "but the worst one woke me up around 2:30 in the morning." He heard a drunk woman on the street braying, "Where the hell have you been?" To which the man replied, "Uptown." After that came the sound of a bottle breaking; then the woman cried, "You left me and my baby at home with no money -- and now I'm gonna cut you!"

The Aftermath: Joe employed the traditional New York response: "I felt bad for her, sure," he says. But instead of peering out the window or calling 911 . . . he went back to sleep.

The Scene: A sidewalk on the Upper West Side.

The Players: Dan, an attorney in his thirties, and Tim, 26, his boyfriend.

What Happened: At four in the morning, the couple were loudly arguing outside Dan's apartment. "We were obscenely drunk, and Dan was yelling about something stupid, and I was trying to calm him down and get him home," says Tim. An exasperated neighbor called out her window, "If you don't take that inside, I'm calling the cops." Indeed, moments later, a squad car rolled up and two policemen arrived to break it up. "I'm sure they just came with the intention of telling us to go home, but when they asked Dan what was going on, he said, 'I live here, and this guy won't let me back into my apartment.' Of course I went ballistic." After loudly mouthing-off at Dan, an outraged and inconsolable Tim found himself being cuffed and tossed into the back of the vehicle.

The Aftermath: "It is the single most humiliating event in my life," says Tim. "I was taken back to the station, given a big lecture about public drunkenness, and charged with disorderly conduct. Dan and I broke up -- but strangely enough, we're still friends."


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