[This is the Introduction of the nine part Safa Boy Series]
The pests of New York City are notorious. Sewer rats, pigeons (“flying rats”), squirrels (“rats with cuter outfits”), bed bugs, cockroaches, and the guys who sell comedy tickets in Times Square. Tourists fall for their crafty sales pitches, locals avoid them, I fell for one’s charm and good looks.
Like bed bugs in a street curb sofa, they infest the area, preying on all those they come in contact with. A walk on Broadway from 42nd Street to 50th guarantees multiple accostings: “Do you like stand up comedy?” “Want to be part of a taping of a live show?” “What are you doing tonight?” At best they are obnoxious, at worst aggressive to the point where you buy a ticket just so they leave you alone. That’s probably how they make half of their money. The other half comes from sales made by promises of headliners who never show and exorbitant drink minimums they neglect to mention.
But don’t shoot the messenger, it’s not the ticket seller’s fault, he’s just desperate for money and likely unable to get a job anywhere else. Anyone can get a job selling comedy tickets- it’s under the table and solely commission based. This means a lot of them are total weirdos, lack social skills or social security numbers, and/or have no capacity for any semblance of “professional appearance”.
I know all this because I’ve been working promotions in Times Square. Remember my Disney on Broadway days? Well currently I am promoting an Off Broadway show that is nowhere near as successful as The Lion King yet somehow they pay me as much as Disney did. Thus I am exceedingly familiar with Times Square’s many promoters- the Scientology flier team (also notorious), the slinky Chicago dance team, the sketchy guys who promote strip clubs, the sweet Irish fellow who promotes Pandora jewelry, the comedy promoters who’ve been out there since my Mary Poppins days. You’d think turn over would be high but it’s not. New promoters are obvious and often don’t last long.
The moment I spotted him, I was instantly attracted. If you look up “My Type” in a dictionary his picture would accompany this description:
Male. Above average height, 6′+. Fit, slim build. Ample dark hair, esp. black. Often of Italian ancestry. Positive energy. Bright eyes, tangible “twinkle”. Roommates may describe as “goofy”. Possesses uncanny ability to make questionable statements-”I’m a working traveler”; “I’m couch surfing while I look for a place”; “I’m sorta in between jobs”; “I’m a virgin”- sound romantic. Dimples likely, great smile imperative. Will induce outrageous flirting and impaired judgment.
He’s selling comedy tickets and so, knowing what I just told you, I keep my distance. Best to stay away, not risk temptation, merely admire from afar. Eye candy to get me through a shift sounds better than chocolate anyway. The only chance for failure with this plan is that he approaches me. Given my luck, of course that’s what happens. He flashes a brilliant smile at me before opening his mouth to introduce himself. One word out of his mouth and I’m a goner. Looks that make me swoon accompanied by a British? No. Australian? No. ….uh what then? South African. A South African accent. I’M A GONER.