We went to see "Tootsie" the other night. Finally. After weeks of negotiations. The guy typing this was the skeptic in the household.

"Dustin Hoffman dressed up like a woman?" I'd say to Jane. "Do I need this? After a hard week of work? Are you telling me this is the best Hollywood has to offer?" And I'd bury my head deeper in the TV booklet's basketball listings, hinting up a storm.

"You'll like it," Jane would say. "The critics liked it. Our friends liked it. It's supposed to be funny, dummy."

Guess what?

It was funny.

But what happened in front of the theater before the show wasn't. If the idea of Dustin Hoffman in a dress offended my modesty, so did the act put on by a couple at the door.

Apparently they had planned to see "Tootsie," too, and had been standing in line near the front door of the theater. But a disagreement broke out, and it flared up. As I dropped Jane at the front door, the couple had stepped out of line and was nose to nose, insulting each other at the top of their lungs. By the time I'd found a place to park and had returned, they were still at it.

"I want to go home! Home!" said the woman.

"Can't we talk about it?" said the man.

"I can't talk to you!" the woman screamed. "You're a jerk!"

"Oh, Cindy," said the man, in a weary moan.

Perhaps 50 people were within 20 yards of the couple throughout these immortal lines, and others. None of the 50 so much as looked at the combatants. The unwilling audience stared at the sidewalk, studied the marquee and read all the fine print on their tickets. It's embarrassing to hear an outburst one wasn't meant to hear.

It's also inexcusable to wash one's linen in a public place. Did the web of a couple's anger have to snare 50 people geared up to spend a Friday night laughing at Dustin Hoffman? Is there any dispute that can't wait until a couple is alone?