My friend and I were in an Upper East Side theater Saturday night watching "American Gangster."
This long, emotionally draining and extremely violent movie was reaching its bloody climax when a man sitting 20 feet away from us began shouting. "They [Russell Crowe's character] wouldn't be treating them [Denzel Washington's character] like that if they were white. White-ass motherf--kers."
"Shut the f--k up," yelled a theatergoer.
"Make me," challenged the angry man.
And then one by one, the people sitting near this man began getting up and leaving the theater. The man stood up, setting off an even greater rush of people, only now they were running.
"He's got a gun," one said.
My friend and I looked at each other for a split-second and then joined the rush.
On the way up the stairs a man casually asked me, "So, did he have a gun or not?"
"Why don't you go ask him," I said.
My friend and I quickly walked to a Starbucks around the corner, joined by other theatergoers who likewise ducked into the first place they saw.
We stopped by the theater about an hour later. It apparently closed for the night after the incident. I asked some exiting staff how things ended. The man was "escorted out," one of them said. "But do you have your ticket stub? You can get a rain check for the movie."
Welcome to New York.