please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

My Photo
Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Taxiland memories

Today, I was interrupted in the telling of a story by an edgy, talky guy who owes me money. He had just been grievously misquoted in the Portland Tribune, and I countered with a story of my own in which I was misquoted by the Olympian, while I was a taxi driver.
"You drove cab up there?" he asked. Yeah, I said. "You lived in Olympia?" he asked. Yes, I had, and he and I were no doubt living up there at the same time, a conversation we've already had once. But the point of the story was...
But no. "I always wondered how you guys made any money. The boss of the place pretty much lived in his office, and..."
He was referring to Elvis Pruitt, a 300-plus pound man who occupied nearly the entire front seat of his cab, and had a small fleet of poorly maintained vehicles piloted by poorly conceived south county roustabouts. His vehicles had no CB radios in them; a consequence of his wife. The FCC maintains a watch on citizen's band radio the same way they do commercial radio: you can't use profanity. She'd sit in the office all night long, cursing at him endlessly, until finally they lost the privilege of using CBs. They also didn't employ meters to calculate the fares, which I think was a personal choice. The driver would just charge whatever they felt was appropriate.
But I didn't work for them. I worked for the other cab company in town, which was also owned by thieves, but far more subtle ones who presented a far more convincing face to the public. Until the day they absconded with all their employee's insurance money, and left town.
Elvis's boss, until he died and Elvis bought the company, was Red Isom, who once hijacked a Trailways bus while drunk. The driver was in the depot, and it sounds like Red just hopped on in, closed the doors and made it twenty-five miles south, to Centralia, before the cops overtook the bus, and explained to the confused passengers that it would be a few minutes while they found the real driver.
But the point of the story was..."Hey did you ever pick up anybody from The Brotherhood?"
The other people had no idea what that was, and I know that it sounded like he and I were sharing warm remembrances of our days in the white supremacy movement. But no: The Brotherhood was an old man beer bar, just adjacent to the labor temple. It was known also as the Bobblehead, the Botherhood, the Bubblehead...As The Spar magically became The Scar, King Soloman's Reef became The Grief, the China Clipper rendered to The Crippler, and the Eastside Club became the Beast, the Meatslide, the Slip 'n Slide...
So one night, I'm sitting in my cab at the Greyhound station, waiting for something to happen. I am nervously approached by two ninnies from the local paper, who are doing some story on how violent downtown Olympia has become. This was patently bullshit; aside from the usual drunks who have been populating Oly's drunk tanks for years, this is another one of your quiet little West Coast capitol cities, where the crime exists just quietly enough. It was a little town, and pretty damn tame.
I went on at length about that and a lot of things, including the tendency of local news outlets everywhere to exaggerate silly problems, to raise prurient interest and circulation, and ignore the really malignant ones, and...I said that Olympia probably was about as violent as it had ever been, which wasn't to say very much.
"Hey, what're you reading?" The awful woman of the pair said.
"Uh, Suetonius' 'The Twelve Caesars'." I said.
They took a moment to celebrate at length how weird it was that I wasn't reading "some trashy novel or something". For my part, I was wondering if I should look at their simple asses and asked them how much they enjoyed reading the classics. I mean, yeah I know folks; I'm just a shit heel who drives a cab, not highly respected journalists from the very least of the Gannett family of newspapers, but that doesn't mean that I'm not sitting right here listening to you, and am not deserving of the same respect accorded to, oh say some pedophile little league coach.
I was quoted the next day in the paper, by name. I went on record, it would appear, as saying that I felt that things don't really change. That was it. Just the one line. Sigh. Whatever.
Bi-weekly dinner party tonight. The menu will be chili, ribs, potato salad, corn fritters and apple pie. When our hostess mentioned the apple pie, I said, "Wow, you're going that far down the road?" She had been commenting on how it had been a while since we'd done an American meal.
As the only one who usually cooks at these events, I can tell you, baby: even when I'm making Tom Yung Goong it's an American meal. Even when it's Mjadra. Because they're just my own instinctual graspings in the dark of a cauldron of shadows that we 'murcans live in, culturally, culinarily (word?) and otherwise. I'm just improvising, as only the greatest of non-compensated personal chefs do.
Aw, why am I tellin' you? You don't caaaaare...



Post a Comment

<< Home