Tuesday, June 08, 2004

I want to start this next hiatus off on the right foot, so I give you:

Another Cabbie I Have Known

This guy drove me to the airport to get on a flight to Sacramento. I was there to meet up with friends and drive to Reno. This was a cabbie of the gambler type. I got in his cab at ten to six in the morning, told him I was flying on Southwest, and he instinctively said "Ah...You go to Vegas."

It is true that I was not, in fact, going to Vegas, but it was an inspired guess. I had spotted a Racing Form sitting beside him in the front seat. I have had a lot of cab drivers who are really into gambling. Another guy drove my wife and I to a benefit casino night, and when he found out where we were going, tried unsuccessfully to convince us to let him come along and wipe the floor with all the pathetic, would-be faux gamblers. I'm sure it would have been very enjoyable, as we introduced everyone to our cabbie friend at the benefit. Sadly, we declined his fervent pleas.

This guy was pleased I was going to be gambling and launched into another long and tedious cabbie blather about how he was perhaps the greatest gambler on this or any other planet, but due to the fickle nature of fate and circumstances beyond his control, he was forced to drive a cab for a living.

As I said, it was ten to six in the morning and this guy had been early to pick me up. As a result, I had only been able to drink half of my coffee before leaving, and I mentioned this to him. He said "Coffee..." rather wistfully, and I knew he would expand on the subject if I but held my tongue.

"I can't drink the coffee."

"No?" I asked.

"Coffee ate all my stomach muscles!" he spat bitterly.

Now I know a thing or two about coffee (including this hard learned lesson: do not, under any circumstances, use patterned paper towels when you run out of coffee filters, unless you really enjoy drinking perfumey chemicals) and I had never heard of coffee actually eating your stomach muscles. "You mean it's destroyed your stomach lining, right?" I asked hopefully.

"No! It has eaten all my muscles! I used to drink so much coffee, it just ate all of them!" he rubbed his poor gut, which was estimable if totally atrophied.

I was pretty much at a loss.

We were quiet for a moment, the two of us. We listened to the pre-dawn sounds of the road, the cab bouncing over cat-eyes, and pulled into the airport. The cabbie turned to me and said "You know, when you see these old people, and they're walking on their hands?"

No, I thought, in all my years, I don't think I've ever seen an old person walking on their hands. I thought maybe they would make seal noises.

"They drank too much coffee, these people. Now they have no muscles."

I tipped him, walked into the airport, and got a really awful cup of coffee at Cinnabon. But I didn't get one of the herculean cinnamon buns. Those things really will eat your muscles.

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