2004ish – I was staying in a friend’s apartment on 17th Street off Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, then Manhattan’s gayest neighborhood, while visiting NYC from Miami in 2004 or so. I returned from a day spent running around town to find the block cordoned off and a number of NYC firemen standing nearby preventing bystanders from getting too close.
Curious and needing to gain access to his temporary home for a change of clothes, I approached a handsome, thirtyish fireman and inquired “What’s going on? I live here and I need to get into my apartment.”
“There’s a smoking manhole nearby.” answered the by-all-appearances heterosexual young fireman. “We’re not able to let anyone in the block right now.”
Without missing a beat, I wryly snapped back “Well, it IS Chelsea, after all!”. The fireman unsuccessfully attempted to stifle a broad grin.