Joe Rein Writings


Speak Softly and...

Was walkin' along Third Ave. in N.Y. one evening, past PJ Clarke's, the bar-hangout for the sports' crowd and media. A booming voice hailed me.

I looked in the direction of the THUNDER and saw "The Hulk" X2 in a stadium-sized-suit standing in Clarke's doorway. His armor-plated chest and tree-trunk arms strained the seams of his jacket. He was big around as he was wide, with a neck that would support a bridge.

FRIGHTENING! Like a collector from "The Godfather."

He came away from the building and lumbered over. "It's me, Mark...Mark Tendler."

As I looked at him, I could see something familiar about the mountain. Then it struck me: I'd trained with him at Stillman's Gym years before. But he was a tall rangy heavyweight, then, barely 200 pounds.

He explained after he stopped fighting he became a power lifter, and for years a professional wrestler and now the bouncer at Clarke's.

So, he ushered me back just inside the entrance to Clarke's and we reminisced about the good ol' days.

Over at the bar -- about 15-feet away -- was an Ivy-League jock 'n his sorority sweetie. The jock was at the bulletproof stage of bein' drunk 'n said to his sorority sweetie in a voice intended for Mark: "See the bouncer at the door? He thinks because he's so big, he scares people. He doesn't scare me!"

The patrons started getting' edgy, but Mark didn't even look at Ivy League; he continued talkin' to me, as if the lout didn't exist.

The jock raised the ante: "HE THINKS HE CAN PRETEND I'M NOT HERE. I'LL SHOW YOU WHAT A PHONEY HE IS. HOLD MY COAT!" he said to Stepford Barbi.

Everybody in the bar cleared away, but Mark kept talkin' to me, without a hint of concern. I was gettin' more anxious by the moment.

The jock, roided on whiskey muscles, swaggered towards us. Mark still didn't acknowledge him. When the jock got less than an arms-length away, Mark turned to him and said softly: "If you hit me and I find out about it, you're gonna be in alotta trouble."

The jock turned ashen... 'n slunk away.

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