The tale of the purse-snatcher who made my friend a legend and my birthday unforgettable

Friends, let me tell you a story. It’s a true story, not a made-up fable to scare you into paranoia, or an allegory about the dangers of big city living. It’s a true story, no exaggeration, no hyperbole. I know, because I was there.

Picture it – it’s a warm, end-of-summer Friday, the 14th to be exact. My birthday. After a wonderful day of shopping and hanging with friends (and NOT working), I meet up with my dear friend, one of my favourite people in the world, for a fancy birthday dinner at the Keg. My friend – let’s call her “Cheryl” – and I arrive at the restaurant within minutes of one another. We decide to dine in the bar area, because it’s a bit cozier, and a more interesting vibe. Cheryl and I are all about the vibes. We’re seated at a round table for four, so we sit beside each other (not in that creepy way some couples do when they sit on the same side of the booth – I HATE that!), but the table is big, and it’s kind of loud and we want to be able to hear each other when we talk.

And TALK we do! We have a beautiful meal; delicious food, great martinis, a nice bottle of wine. We chat and laugh and have a truly engrossing and lovely time. After our meal is done, still chatting away, contemplating ordering another cocktail, Cheryl suddenly gets this look of disgust on her face and says to me “ughhhh, can you smell that?” I can’t smell anything discernably disgusting, but do notice a very slight, kind of odd looking man seating himself at the table next to us. Cheryl is distracted by the stench, I (thankfully – sorry Cheryl!), am not, as I’m just far enough away from him to avoid the sensory assault.

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Cheryl and I continue talking, occasionally interrupted by Cheryl’s comments about the stench of the sketchy man in our periphery. Because of the way we’re sitting, I can the man at his seat. His back is to us. He is fidgety, he moves his table and chair back a few inches, towards our table. Even though it’s really warm out, he has a jacket with him, which he very awkwardly drapes over the back of his chair. He knocks the salt shaker off the table and bends down to pick it up. I’m a little distracted, but alarm bells are not ringing in my head.

After a few minutes, the man gets up to leave, draping his jacket over his arm. Cheryl and I immediately breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that we’ll be able to continue our evening without the distraction. As we’re kind of watching him leave the restaurant, Cheryl (instinctively, perhaps?) reaches down to her purse which had been sitting under the table, at her feet.

The purse wasn’t there.

Cheryl looks at me, eyes wide, and says “where’s my purse? What did I do with my purse? Did that guy just take my purse???”

In what felt like a flash, she was up out of her seat asking me if she should run after him. A girl sitting near us (with her dud of a boyfriend who barely shrugged when all this was going down, by the way), overhearing our alarmed conversation chimes in and says that she thinks he did take Cheryl’s purse, because she’s pretty sure he’s the same guy who stole a purse from her restaurant a few days before. Intrigue!

Cheryl quickly runs out of the restaurant, chasing the thief down York Street, yelling obscenities at him, looking like a streak of black and glitter in her micro-mini and healed booties. She catches up to him (with ease, I might add, she is after all, an Orangetheory enthusiast). She grabs his jacket off his arm, telling him that she knows he stole her purse, and lo and behold, the purse just drops to the ground, like a prize out of one of those claw machines. The would-be thief, turns on his heals apologizing, running away, while Cheryl checks inside her purse to make sure nothing is missing. She quickly grabs her phone and takes a picture of the guy running away. Sadly, it’s blurry, but at least she gets a picture.

In the meantime, the girl who warned us about the stinky thief has run outside to make sure Cheryl is OK or assist her in any way. I, if you’re wondering, am still sitting at the table, paralyzed with indecision about what I should do – should I call the police? Should I get the manager? Should I run after Cheryl too? Clearly, I’m not the best person to have around in such a crisis.

Cheryl hurries back into the restaurant, having walked through a whole crowd of completely oblivious bystanders outside the restaurant on the sidewalk who barely looked up from their phones to notice the screaming blonde woman on a foot chase, but, whatever.

Victorious in her purse-retrieval and burgle-thwarting, Cheryl and the anonymous good citizen come strutting back into the restaurant with huge smiles. My heart stops fluttering – I’m so happy she’s OK!

Cheryl and I thank the girl profusely for warning us about the thief (her boyfriend sits in his seat, not looking at us or participating in the conversation. What a loser). We tell our server the saga and he immediately runs to get his manager. The manager comes over and sits down with us for a bit. We (mostly Cheryl) tell the tale again, partly still in shock and disbelief, partly with excited adrenaline, and partly with pride at her badassary.

After telling the story in detail, me providing a very good physical description of the perp and the manager encouraging Cheryl to file a police report, we pause and look at each other, reading each other’s minds. Cheryl says to the manager “so…I think we’re gonna need another cocktail.”

Our server delivers our Negronis and with what I would call an air of delight, tells us that he’s been telling all his co-workers about “the girl who chased down the guy who stole her purse” and that she is now a LEGEND at the Keg on York Street.

Moral of the story: don’t leave your purse on the back of your chair or on the floor, at your feet when you’re dining out. You never know what sneaky, desperate people will do. People can’t be trusted, and unless you’re super fit like my girl Cheryl, and you can guarantee that the bandit in question is not a threat, it’s generally not advisable to chase people down in the street, regardless of how much you want your stuff back.

But also, another moral of the story: my friend Cheryl IS a legend. She’s lucky she’s OK and the guy was harmless but, she’s also a total badass BOSS lady and you’d be well-advised not to mess with her. I will forever remember the image of her running down the street in her micro-mini, yelling at the guy who took her purse.

Thanks, Cheryl, for giving me the most memorable birthday dinner ever. If that’s a sign of the kind of year I’m going to have, I think I’m in for the ride of a lifetime!