I was in grad school at the time, and went to see a production of "Waiting for Godot" at Classic Stage Company, starring John Turturro and John Goodman (wait is that even right?). After the show, I used the payphone in the lobby, because--hello--it was 1998. When I finished my call, I stepped away, the guy behind me approached the phone and I heard him say "shoot!" The guy had no change for the phone so I offered him a quarter. He gazed at me, as if in a trance, and silently took the quarter.
Ten blocks up I felt a hand on my arm and heard panting.
"I'm the quarter guy (pant, pant)."
"Sorry, I just ran 10 blocks to catch up to you."
"I promise I'm not crazy, but I noticed you during the show, and then you gave me that quarter, and....I just had to follow you and see if you would give me your number and let me ask you out sometime."
And so we went to The Elephant. Apparently it's been around for 17 years and my visit there was 12 years ago. So it was a five year old neighborhood staple at that point, way cooler and more expensive than places I would ordinarily eat. My date was "old" (35?) and looking for a wife, it was perfectly plain. Which seemed about as far away from my life as a person could be.
I love New York because every neighborhood, every corner, every restaurant that stays open or shuts its doors holds a story from my life. Some strange, some amazing, some perfectly ordinary.