As the young woman made her way down the fetid, sweltering mass of variegated bodies that was Canal Street in August, gaze down, she suddenly found her progress blocked. Blocked a group of pedestrians who were, in turn, encircling some sort of altercation. As the young woman approached, the scene became clear. She was standing before a kiosk, one of many on the street, selling knock-off Rolexes and Coach bags, New York souvenirs and the occasional dancing doll. An ancient Chinese woman, dressed in cropped cotton trousers, a button-front short-sleeved blouse and slippers, and seemingly the proprietor, was standing pugnaciously before a young Israeli woman dressed in skin-tight white jeans:
“You say fuck you to me? You say fuck you to me? Say it again your pants come off! SAY IT AGAIN YOUR PANTS COME OFF!”
The crowd fell quiet.
“I said nothing," said the combatant dismissively. "I did not say fuck you. I said nothing."
"SAY IT AGAIN YOUR PANTS COME OFF!" shrieked the woman. She lunged at her adversary; at the last minute a younger man ran forward and held her back.
The tourist walked off, the crowd dispersed, the woman, still shouting, continued with her threats.