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Travel lends itself to storytelling. This is just one of several good traveling storytellers on the show today. Here's Larry Massett with a quick story that he wrote me in a postcard from London. Apparently, on the streets of London's theater district, the world is a stage.

Streetside Drama

By Larry Massett, 6/7/2002

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A friend of mine and I were in London with tickets to a play. We arrived early, found a sidewalk cafe near the theater and sat down to wait. I asked for a beer, she ordered tea; we settled in to watch the crowds go by.

After a while, we spotted a peculiar woman coming down the street -- young, very pale, with a sort of bewildered look -- frazzled hair, tatter coat, sandals falling off her feet. She was peering around as if she had never exactly seen buildings before, or potted geraniums, or a sidewalk, or her own feet. Mad, we guessed, on drugs, or just new to the planet.

She floated by the cafe, came to a halt, reversed, and found her way to a table. She sank into the chair and ordered a glass of water -- very cold, very cold, no ice. The waiter wasn't happy with the order, but he brought it.

She took one sip and called him back. "This," she said, "is not cold water."

"Cold as it gets with no ice," he said.

We could tell they didn't like each other.

"This is tepid water," she said. "It's warm. In fact, it's hot. You've had it on a stove."

"Correct," the waiter said, "we only serve boiling water here; you better try some other place."

She told him he was rude, and he told her what he thought of that. She stood up, he got in her face, and it escalated -- then they were screaming at each other, and then she swept the silverware off the table, and threw the water at him, and smashed the glass on the ground and stormed off.

So the waiter went in to dry off, came back with a broom and some towels, and that was it. My friend and I might have left, except we still had time to kill. We had another beer, another tea. Ten minutes went by, 20 minutes and -- by golly -- here comes the same woman again. She wanders up to the cafe, the waiter brings water that's not cold enough, and they start to argue.

And then we realize -- Oh, right, we're in the theater district.

Larry Massett is a radio producer who lives in the DC area.

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