Thursday, September 24, 2009

Refined Women

"He asked her out for a date! ... Can you believe it! A date!"

Mohammed to looked at me shaking his head in disbelief.

"A Date!" he repeated throwing up his hands in exasperation. "Well - I can tell you, Hortense didn't like it one bit. She didn't say anything but I could tell - one more fuck up like that and I lose the account."

He circled the room, combing back his medium black hair with his right hand while his left punctuated his speech.

"These woman aren't sluts or whores ... they're refined, elegant ladies. Like gishas or concubines ... And, no full-timers - Hortense is adamant about that. These woman are housewives and college students, single mothers. MBAs and lawyers laid off by the recession. They have husbands and lovers - fiancees ... and Nick the dick asks one out for a date."

"Hard to believe," I said shaking my head.

Mohammed was interviewing me. He was looking me over to see if I had enough class to handle the job. He was looking for three or four good men to take care of the business he couldn't deal with himself.

"And the cliental," he said with an air of disbelief, "the creme de la creme. These men are movers and shakers, computer geniuses, CEOs - the princes of Silicon Valley ... I mean these are 50, 100, 200 dollar rides - and he wants a date!"

I shook my head again as Mohammed stared intently at me, searching into my soul.

"The smuc just didn't know his place," I said as Mohammed suspiciously eyed me. "I wouldn't dream of taking one of those women out."

Gabriella, my first ride, was everything Mohammed said she was. Elegant, refined, 22, wearing designer clothing by Versace and shoes by that Italian dude - Gucci isn't it? She had classic cheek bones and straight black hair that hung to her shoulders and an ethereal look but with a hard cut.

I figured her for a poetics major from Bryn Mawr who'd gotten real and was going for that Standford MBA.

I didn't lie to Mohammed. I wouldn't dream of asking this woman out. What I asked her instead was, "how much for half and half?"

She glanced at me with distain and haughtily replied, "If you have to ask you can't afford it."

"Too bad," I said, "I was thinking of splitting the fare with you."

We were heading for San Jose - a $150 ride. She warmed up and leaned her elbows on the top of the passenger seat. "Well" she said, "I guess I could give you the cabbie special - how about half for half? - Only don't tell Hortense."

Way above my ordinary budget but this woman was refined.

It turned out that the computer genius, mover and shaker, CEO, prince asshole was a regular. He opened the door and gave Gabriella a long, passionate kiss; sticking his tongue down the soft, velvet pallet that I'd explored not ten minutes earlier.

Monday, September 14, 2009

The High Way to the Airport

I picked up a newlywed couple at a Noe Valley bar. He was sixty and dressed like Willie Nelson. She was nineteen and looked like a sixties' flower girl. They were high and they lit up everyone around them. The people in the bar come out to see them off as if they'd just been married in a church.

He said he was a cameraman and was having trouble getting work so he had to move back to his hated L.A. . When I later took film courses, I learned that he was one of the half-dozen cinematographers who had created the 70's film "look." She was exited to be with the great man and he was in love.

As soon as they stepped into the cab they invited me to the party. I usually don't indulge when I drive but they were having so much fun I had to join them. It turned out to be awesome weed.

I don't know if I've ever been happier in my work. Everything we said was hilarious. I told cab stories. He told "on the shoot" stories. She told hippie stories. I have no idea what we were talking about. We just laughed and laughed and laughed.

It suddenly seemed to me like we'd been driving for a long time. We should already have been at SFO. I looked up and realized that we were on the Oregon Expressway in Palo Alto. I'd missed the airport by like thirty miles.

I turned around and tried to explain:

"I'm sorry. I musta lost focus. We'll even it up."

They were so into each other they didn't even hear me.

"I'm sorry, man," I repeated, "we'll even it up."

They couldn't have cared less. I could've driven them to L.A. and they wouldn't have known the difference.

They kept up the jokes but I let it wash over me. I had to concentrate. To miss the airport once was bad enough: to miss it twice would have been unprofessional. I was too filled with anxiety to laugh.

Somehow I managed to get them to their airline although I dropped them at "arrivals" instead of "departures." It seemed like too much trouble to drive up hill.

The meter read $80 and change.

"It should only be like $30," I explained, "I made a little mistake."

He gave me a hundred.

"Don't be cheap," she told him. They had a little spat.

"Ask him what he thinks of a twenty-dollar tip," the cameraman told her.

"No ... I lost focus," I said, "it should just be thirty."

"You're right, baby," he said as he handed me another ten.

"No - no," I said as I tried to hand the money back, "I mean the total should just be -"

But they couldn't hear me. They were walking away kissing and making up.

I understood then that I shouldn't be driving. But I was afraid that I wouldn't be able to handle the loop back to the taxicab waiting lot. I didn't want to be busted.

I headed for home ... hoping I could find it.