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August 2007 | by Ari Herzog

“Spare change?” a homeless man asked us, as we stood on the sidewalk late Saturday night in front of Vox Populi, a Boston bar that had just closed at 1 a.m.

The homeless man said he could dance.

Patrick, a Maryland employee of Saks 5th Ave., in Boston for the weekend for work, smiled and told the homeless man that he’d give a dollar to see the dance.

The homeless man proceeded to get down on a knee, wave his hands in the air, and do a mini breakdance.

Impressed, Patrick gave the dollar he promised.

Patrick, joined by Joe, an Iowan, who knew Patrick from Saks’ IT department, had just approached me and a scattering of new and old friends as we mulled which bar to go to, knowing we had a full hour until the puritanical blue laws would force all bars to close by 2 a.m. that hadn’t already closed at 1.

We went to Solas.

I was with an interesting mix: R, a 35-year-old male software consultant who commuted between Boston and Pennsylvania every week, who I’d first met a few months ago but saw again Friday night at a social mixer at the Museum of Fine Arts; S, a 31-year-old female who worked at Harvard, who R and I met at the MFA on Friday, and who I quickly discovered was a collegiate friend of one of my hometown friends; M, who was R’s friend from New Hampshire and arrived in Boston earlier that day for a golfing fundraiser; and Patrick and Joe, two random strangers we’d just met on the sidewalk three blocks away.

We drank, sharing stories and laughter until Solas, like Vox an hour earlier, closed.

M had to drive back to New Hampshire, so the rest of us — me, R, S, Patrick, and Joe — headed to R’s condo in Boston’s West End. We got there by 2:30, and shared more drinks and stories and personal experiences. R spoke of a time he was shot at in Arkansas, Joe relayed a story involving some altercation and a knife, I told a joke.

Sitting on R’s porch some 25 floors high, we watched the sun rise… and then trekked off to the South Street Diner for an early breakfast of pancakes, steak, and eggs.

I fell asleep at 8:30 in the morning, slept some six hours, and kayaked on the Charles River yesterday afternoon.

While I’ll see R and S again, it’s fair to assume we won’t see Patrick and Joe… but we’ll definitely remember that random allnighter and the communal ambience we created when strangers became friends.