The Greatest Couple (in the universe)
[Pieces of Taxi #16]
In the foggy cool of what would have been a hot summer’s night any place else (south of Nome) a snapping and pouting couple got in the taxi on a street of fine Italian restaurants.
Man first, he slides in from the right rear across the back seat to sit firmly upright arms crossed over his heart like a wall behind me.
His mate, his mistress, maybe his wife, a partner on this night’s team in this two-person team sport they’re playing, performed the most graceful knee-swing entry and stretched for the door that I half wished I’d run around to close for her. I prefer to watch women move, however, so I did not help. Instead, I appreciated.
We are dancing on the open covers of our gaping tombs. Nevertheless, moments of beauty….
“You are stupid and should not have the right to any opinion!” her hubbie blurted.
An ominous void of silence followed, leaving me no other recourse but to say, “Could you sit on the other side, sir?”
“Beg yer pardon!”
“Men to the right rear, man.”
“What?!” he yelps.
“Well, if you’re a robber, you could kill me easily from there! Are you a taxi robber?”
[I have found that nobody ever answers yes to this question. But it puts the passengers on notice that they’d better not be robbers or they could find themselves rolling down one of our Seven Sacred Hills w/o a driver. My hand is on the door latch: I’m rehearsing my old football shoulder roll in my head.]
“He’s not that kind of a robber,” the lady uttered darkly.
“Good then,” I uttered, taking the woman’s word for it. “Where to, folks?”
I drove on in rather foreboding silence in the same direction I was pointed when I got them. After a few more dullish moments filled with the ostentation of their neo-self-indulgent expressionism of pouting, she smiled into the rear view, and asked, “Why don’t you ask Mr. Know-it-all where he wants to go?”
OK. Yes. Well?
I mumbled as I punched the meter.
They gave me both their addresses—leaving me to decide the matter.
So we cruised off to make the choice rolling along in silence.
A silence, which she soon broke by saying, “You are too stupid and should not have the right to any opinion.”
“Ha!” He went, unswayed by her retort, identical to his starting broadside.
“YOU are too stupid and should not have the right to an opinion!’ he reiterated warmly.
“You should not…!” “You should not….” “You…”
Suddenly, I’d heard enough!
Forced to interject simply for my peace of mind (I felt some risk of becoming collateral damage) I recommended, “Why not say, WE are stupid…et cetera…?”
There ensued a long silence.
During which I went, “Huhm?!”
“We used to,” she said. “We used to say, ‘We are too stupid to have an opinion. But he changed it one day…one fine male chauvinist day!”
She spat the letters, c-h-o-w-v-i-n-ist day.
Huhm, he went, pursing his lips in a way I found decidedly unattractive and pompous. Then began stroking his chin professorially he pronounced, “I remember it differently, dearest. I remember having my degrees disparaged as, and I quote, ‘unrealistic, over-priced ivory-tower opinionationisms…!’”
“…yes, and brainwashing. I believe you said that also I had been brain-washed by my education.”
Why! You! You know you were talking about the limitations of the female brain! Math and science…in my face! Mr. Larry Summers! How could…you?! I aced physics!”
“Yes, you who strikes the first blow, Madame Curie! You, who, can dish it out with the best, but…”
“Dish it? Sexist! You denigrated my mind! My choices. That’s what started it.”
“WAIT!” I screamed at the rear view. “Stop it!”
They crossed their arms over their hearts and got their pouty little kid lips going again.
“Hey! Let’s go get some ice cream!” I suggested.
Vanilla. He said.
“OK. Wait!” I intervened quickly. “I know where that comes from: gimme something hot and cold and black and white, demanded the petulant princess to her cook. Or it’s gonna be off with your lousy head!”
“The next day, he brings for desert, a first, an invention, a great big hot chocolate sundae. And so proved vanilla and chocolate were made for each other. Dig?
“And it don’t matter who started it. See?
“Whenever a cabbie gets up a dead end, I told ‘em, he stops, turns around, and goes back to where he came from. Not all the way right away, but to where he began to get lost.
“We reset. Restore.
“We escape the bad place.
“Drive down hill, to the river. Follow the river to the sea. Across the sea is either France or China. So you’ll never really be lost. The big sky up above, land under your feet. Or tires….
“So remain seated and listen up!
“You guys taught me something: we’re all too stupid to have the right to an opinion! We should be seeking out facts.
“He said it first!” She butted in.
“You started it off.”
“Well, you said the stupid part.”
“I remember saying, ‘opinion.’”
“I’m just as sure you said…”
“That’s your opinion!”
“It’s called memory.”
“OK!” I shouted at the windshield. “Dudes!”
“We’re almost there. Listen. It’s a team game. Let me believe you can do it again. Start over. Create something complimentary…a hot fudge sundae…besides this rancor. Go back to whenever…you were BOTH not really stupid, y’know?”
So. Tell him that!
They mumbled something inaudible to their own selves.
All right. I pulled over at the corner absent any more exact verbal instructions. Ten bucks folks! …and skip the tip.
Here’s a 20. You may keep it, sir.
20?! She goes. Why did you….
I was already around the back opening the door to the side walk. “Hey,” I went, ostensibly talking to the guy over her, but meant for her ears only. “Did you slide across the seat to save her the inconvenience? I mean, to wipe the seat of any untoward taxi juices for her lovely dress.”
“I do like to kind of clear the way with my pants,” he said. “Just in case. Although it inevitably places me behind the driver.”
“He always does that,” she smiled. “One time he found a knife in the seat crack. He might have been cut.”
“It was a switch blade--although closed, dear. And, rather difficult to turn over to the cabbie. I must say. He wanted us out. Rather alarmist, I thought.”
Save that opinion, I thought, smiling at them, jimmy-jamming my 100% tip into my grimy cabbie pants…