Saturday, April 02, 2005

Fish don't blink

A good friend, let's call him Quigley, was in town last weekend.

That meant cabs.

Ripping around town, rattling in the back seat of several different taxis, we learned that there are opium poppies in a public place (no, I'm not telling where) from a driver whose window we broke. Another told us that driving is only part time for him (he has another job as well), that he'd go completely insane if he had to do it full time.

But the king of the cabbies picked us up on Market Street, on the corner where the check cashing place is, where people on the ragged edge of the economy hang out, share a smoke, get an egg roll for 50 cents. Where we'd seen a halfassed fight in progress between two hulking men, one of them a bare, demoralized idea of a drag queen. Dancers trying to get to class in the nearest building edged around the crowd that collected around the combatants, a circle of crush space following them around as they flailed out into the street (dancers scurrying in the door), then back on the sidewalk. Finally the tiny elevator man from the dance building appears, shooing the fighters away with utter confidence, a shopkeeper sweeping his stoop.

The cabbie was monologuing from the minute we landed in his car. I heard only bits and pieces, remember even less, but it was all heroic in scale, how to bring the whole world together - did he suggest soccer broadcasts? - to when he worked at IBM, how the top executives weren't from here, you could notice, if you met with any of them, they didn't blink.

We roared bouncing up the streets toward Telegraph Hill.

Alien races, levitation, telepathy. "You can always tell the aliens, I mean, it makes sense, you come from a place with no sun you don't gotta blink.

"I mean, fish don't blink."

And you know, we couldn't argue with that.

5 comments:

jay said...

I dig your writing. Jesus, I've been finding good writing lately. I'm a lucky bastard. Just found you through "everything comes together at 2 am".
Good stuff - the both of you. See ya round.
-Jay

jkirlin said...

I was in a cab in Washington DC once and asked the cabbie where he was from and he said Iran but that he had been in DC for 25 years. So I tried to think of anything I knew about Iran, just to be cool, and said "Oh? SAVAK?" Now why the Shah's secret police force was the first thing that came into my mind, I'll never know. But all I got an ice cold glare that lasted the rest of the ride. I *DID* tip well though, So I got a smile from him after.

Nice HST reference. :)

Chemical Billy said...

Ha! That's beautiful...

Daniel Heath said...

"we'd seen a halfassed fight in progress between two hulking men, one of them a bare, demoralized idea of a drag queen"

that is an image that's going to stick with me for a while...

monkey#5 said...

OK, (A) I'm gonna need the broken cab window story; (B) I've clearly been hanging out in the most boring parts of San Francisco, since nothing like that has ever happened to me there; and (C) damn, I love the way you tell a story!

I'd quote you, but monkeyzero beat me to it.