Archive for March, 2006
Taking a Taxi
Whenever anybody tells a taxi driver story, I am reminded of the time my boyfriend and I took a taxi in Belleville. We were hot and tired, having been on the train – VIA – with the air conditioning not working, and we needed to get from the train station to the mall to be picked up by his parents. All the taxis were snapped up by the time we’d de-trained – my boyfriend always stored stuff instead of just keeping it under his feet – so we phoned for one and sat down to wait. About fifteen minutes later a cab pulls up, the driver is wearing a baseball cap – a big beefy ruddy-faced guy – and he honks his horn. We kind of looked at each other “Okay, pal. We’re the only two people here – you’re the only cab here…” Anyway, he doesn’t get out of the cab or anything to open the trunk, which I thought was pretty rude, but cab-taking novices that we were we piled into the back seat with our knapsacks and bags. After we were in he checks his rearview mirror and says to me, “You can ride up front if you want.” So my boyfriend, one of those delicate featured, yet possessive macho types, says, “That’s okay. We’ll BOTH sit back here.” “Suit yourself. I thought maybe your girlfriend would rather sit up here with me.” We look at each other. I’m feeling mildly sick. My boyfriend is looking uncomfortable. Still, we didn’t quite have the nerve to exit the cab and in the time i was feeling mildly sick and my boyfriend looking uncomfortable, he’d pulled out of the parking lot and was headed down the street. So, we’re driving along, the cab driver making periodic checks in his rearview mirror, and I’m pretty sure I see him wink at me. I nudge my boyfriend and the driver snaps, “Hey! What are you doing back there?” We both freeze. “Nothing”, I volunteer. “We’re not doing anything.” At which point my boyfriend adds his two cents, “Just drive the cab.” My heart leaps into my throat at his tone. “Damn right I’ll drive the cab. It’s my cab.” By this point we’re both feeling pretty freaked out and really regretting having taken so long to get off the train. THEN a black guy – probably the only black guy in Belleville, I realize later, when I’m actually living there, married, with three little kids – drives by. “Hey! What do you call a nigger in a cadillac?” My blood runs cold. My boyfriend is staring out the window with a determination I just know is in hopes that the road will open up ahead and swallow us whole. Or, at least, swallow the cab driver whole. We sit there. Silent. Hoping against hope to see the mall suddenly looming ahead of us so we can leap out of this cab and run for the safety of his parents’ car. “What. Do. You. Call. A. N.i.g.g.e.r. In. A. Cadillac?” “Okay, look”, I venture forth, “We just want you to drive us to the mall.” My boyfriend is looking at me with that, “Shut up! Can’t you see this guy’s a nut?” look on his face. “Oh. So you don’t like my jokes – is that it?” “No”, I snap. “I don’t like your jokes.” “A thief. That’s what you call a nigger in a cadillac.” My boyfriend smirks. I stare at him. Shocked and appalled by this little display of well, cowardice at best. “See? Your boyfriend likes my jokes.” “No, I don’t”, my boyfriend begs to differ. I shift my attention to the cabbie checking his rearview mirror. “And you’re not supposed to use that word. It’s racist.” “I’ll use whatever words I want. This is my cab. You’re lucky I don’t drive you out into the middle of nowhere and drop you off. Both of you.” Just then the mall looms into view. “Let us out here.” I insist. “Gladly.” He pulls over to the side of the road, tallies his meter and says, “$10.00. You don’t have to tip. I’m charging you extra already.” That was when my boyfriend noticed he didn’t have his wallet. And I only had change left over from the beer I’d bought us on the train. “Oh. So now you don’t have the money to pay for your cab ride. Maybe I should call the cops.” My boyfriend, meanwhile, is starting to get that jumpy look – like he might hit the guy – and I’m thinking, “No way. That guy’s twice your strength.” Suddenly I remember tucking exactly one $10 bill into the pocket of my knapsack. “Here!” I unfold it and hand it to him, “Here’s your money!” “Okay. Good. I thought you were going to try and stiff me and I’d have to figure out how you could pay me some other way.” Which was when my boyfriend charged around from the other side of the car and shoved the guy. Really hard. Knocks him down so he’s laying there on the ground for a second before he springs back to his feet and pulls out a hunting knife. “Run! Don’t fight him!” I yell and I grab my boyfriend’s arm and we run like crazy towards the mall not looking back until we get to the main entrance. Doubled over, panting, I look up. “Is he gone?” (I needed glasses but wouldn’t wear them.) “Yeah”, my boyfriend says, “He’s gone. What an asshole, eh?” “Yeah. That joke was disgusting. Who uses that word at all anymore?” I’m arranging our gear in a pile and keeping an eye out for my boyfriend’s parents. “Well… I guess… but it’s an old joke, so…”
I don’t watch a lot of television, which is not to say the tv isn’t on a lot in my apartment, I’m just not usually the one watching it. And I’m never the one who turned it on. I don’t turn on an off television. I’m that passive. In any case, sometimes I can’t help but be sucked into something or other that the kids are watching – “Friends” (and all I can think of is “My goodness, they must keep that studio cold…”) and some sort of justice show. I honestly don’t know the name but I do know the sub-name “Special Victims’ Unit” or “Special Crimes Detachment”. Something like that. But yeah. You know that show. It’s the one where the actors talk to each other in clipped fateful observations: “Looks like he likes his victims scared from the neck up.” “Yeah. And scarred from the neck down.” “Look at these teeth marks.” “Yeah. Looks like he ate his victims slowly before sodomizing them to death with this impaler.” Or “She never had a chance. Check out the thickness of these chains.” “Yeah. And the fibres from her skull show the pick-axe was wielded by a left-handed butcher.” “Yeah. After he gouged out her eyes. Over here – look at this rusty fork.” “And look at that – blue eyes – just like all his other victims.” I mean, I could go on for hours like this with little or no exaggeration. It’s that bad. They really talk like that on this show. And it’s completely hypnotic: “Her mouth is open. He must have slit her throat mid-scream.” “Yeah. And then sat down and made a tongue sandwich. Look at the tongue fibres on this crust.” “Let’s get forensics in on this one. Now.” It’s filmed in a kind of grainy, gritty way, too – like the cameras have been stored in a torture chamber for so long even they can’t bare the light. I’d love to write for it. I’ve got a great storyline where the serial rapist killer has an extra pyschotic fetish – fetuses. The unborn. He rapes and murders BEFORE birth. It stumps the detectives until the foxy dame cop – who it turns out is the real life daughter of Jayne Mansfield – JAYNE MANSFIELD!! ferchrissakes, whose death certificate reads “crushed skull with avulsion of cranium and brain” (not thanks to a serial killer, sadly – just a car crash) – gets pregnant by the serial rapist killer himself who has only impregnated her so he can rape and murder their unborn child. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your viewing habits, she miscarries early on – AFTER beginning to suspect her boyfriend may be the serial rapist killer they’re looking for. Gamely, she carries on the charade of a relationship until he can be cornered by her co-workers after the wire-tap she has concealed in her vagina records him telling the non-existent fetus of all his past crimes. I know, I know – it sounds far fetched. But he has actually tied her spread-eagled to the four corners of the bed (she has one of those four poster beds with a seductive canopy that allows viewers to see her spread eagled, but only through the gauze. Oh – and she has one of those sexy, short, filmy negligees on to help entice him over to her vagina, too) so she can SEE him rape, murder, yaddayadda – BUT, he can’t see the wire-tap because the wires are… flesh coloured and he has a SECOND fetish of not touching the victims’ mothers as he’s committing his disgustingly evil crimes. Crimes that cause hardened detectives to wince while they wait in the next room until he’s finished with every detail of every fetal rape and murder he’s ever committed. Yeah. Murder One, pal. (Bearing in mind this is an American show – NOT Canadian, where it might just be… manslaughter…?) Anyway, we know there isn’t really a fetus up there (I’ve allowed the viewer a bit of a break, here, although the studio might want to change that part so the fetus is still alive – maybe even ready to be born… but that would make her… too close to being an unwed mother, so… yeah – the fetus has to miscarry earlier in the episode…) but we’re still anxious because he has a THIRD fetish – that WE know about, but the cops don’t – which is to suddenly and without giving notice (so he can’t be heard and therefore stopped), bite off the nipples of his tied up victim, leaving her to bleed to death in sudden bloody spurts causing her to go into instant cardiac arrest (which in turn causes her to thrust and writhe in agony), if he is in any way interrupted in his crime. Phew! Yeah, yeah – I know – how does he do all this without the victims’ mothers knowing until they deliver dead raped babies and so on and so forth. Enh. I’m sure they have editors to work out the kinks.
My Gram lived with us when I was growing up. She was a simple soul, not too interested in us one way or the other, a bit of a tough old bird. She’d come to us divorced, after my Gramp ran off with another woman, with whom it turned out he’d fathered eight more kids to add to the six he’d had with my Gram. Anyway, every summer she went down the line to stay at our family farm, which wasn’t really a farm, just a house in the middle of nowhere on a bluff surrounded by sandy soil. The Scottish Presbyterian version of a cottage, I guess. One summer, Cindy, a lovely slim calico cat showed up at the farm. My Grandmother took a shine to her, which surprised us – even though she’d always been the one to talk to our dog, Lucky – whose company she clearly preferred to ours. Cindy made it more fun to visit the farm (we never thought of it as visiting our Gram, just the farm ) and even more fun when she had a litter of kittens. Oh god, Cindy’s kittens made the farm a destination alright, bearing in mind there was no water for miles around and nothing much to do except wander around, the monotony of the day broken up by hot dry trips to the neighbouring farm half a mile away for drinking water, which we’d carry home in big glass jugs to last my Gram all week ’til we visited the farm the next weekend. Anyway, in minutes we had names for the kittens, Blackie, Whitey, Grey Guy, Tom and Edith (the last two were the names of family friends – a couple who came every Sunday for dinner. We thought it hilarious – obvious names for three of the kittens, although my brother wanted to switch the colour names so they made no sense – and Tom and Edith). One week we showed up at the farm and Blackie was missing. We looked all over for him, all weekend, but couldn’t find him. Now, the kittens had been relocated from the actual farmhouse to the back kitchen – a place that was altogether too much like a shed with easy access by raccoons, skunks, snakes for our liking. We asked our Gram if the kittens could be relocated back to the house. But not surprisingly, she said, “No. Those kittens are nothing but a nuisance. They can stay in the back kitchen.” And when I say “not surprisingly” it’s because I doubt there was a single question we’d ever asked my Gram that wasn’t answered “No.” Alas, we didn’t find Blackie and it was Sunday, time to go back home to the city. We pleaded with my Gram to keep an eye on the kittens, to check in on them and to make sure Cindy checked in on them too. She said something a little ominous sounding to that – “Funny. Cindy doesn’t seem to care much for those kittens.” Then, “Either.” My blood ran a little cold. But my Mom was already backing down the long driveway to the gravel road. The next week, Whitey and Grey Guy were missing. By that time, too, the kittens had been relocated from the back kitchen, to the broken down shed quite a distance from the house. “Gram!” we pleaded. “Let the kittens live in the farmhouse!” But all she offered up after “No” was, “I think that owl is getting your kittens. Owls like rodents.” We couldn’t believe it. Our Gram was just letting those kittens die. And no amount of pleading would get her to budge on moving them to the house. To our surprise, too, our Mom wasn’t taking our side. “But Mom, Gram’s just letting those kittens die!” “Heavens, the owl’s probably getting them. She’s not *letting* them die.” We stared at her aghast. “That’s the same thing!” “No. It isn’t. Now leave your Gram alone.” Well, needless to say, Edith and Tom were nowhere to be found the next weekend and CIndy, who we noticed hadn’t been around much since she had her kittens, was suddenly not just back, but back and living in the house with our Gram. She’d never been allowed in the house before and now, there she was – sleeping on the settee. My Gram had even taken to asking my Mom to bring down some catfood for Cindy – who up until her kittens disappeared, had been considered a mouser. Eventually, fall came and the early July memory of the kittens had faded and Gramn came back to live with us in the city. We thought she’d want to bring CIndy with her, and were hoping my Mom would say she could, but it turned out she didn’t want to bring Cindy to the city – she said Cindy was a barn cat, and besides, Lucky was too jealous a dog to put up with a cat. So she sent Cindy down the road to the farm where we got our water to be a barn cat again and that was the last we ever saw of her.
abortion on demand
i have a friend who got pregnant for the first time at age 40. she’s an anti-choice catholic who was married to a guy who, after baby number 4, apparently sat in the livingroom of their condo advising her children, while she was out buying groceries, “when mom comes home, don’t let her inside because she could be the devil and we’re facing armegeddon. you don’t want her here when god comes to rescue us.” it took her a nun and a priest to get him out, but she never questioned her decision to have and raise four children with him. or without him as it turned out. and i don’t know how happy she is about that, but he was an ex-rcmp with one restraining order against him already so… let’s just say it made her friends rest easier when he moved away to live with his mom. who we didn’t know. so we kind of left it at that. and what that says about female solidarity, i don’t know – other than that old ladies with middle-aged psychotic sons to look after don’t matter as much as middle-aged ones with babies and toddlers to look after do. anyway, somewhere along the way we got to talking about all the tests and whatnot women these days are subjected to during pregnancy, especially when they are pregnant over 40, and she said to me “i really don’t know why i’m having all these tests. i wouldn’t abort the baby no matter what was wrong with it.” which leads me to a question i’ve asked of myself many times over – would i abort a wrong baby? i mean, a wrong baby that i had planned? i had all the tests for my first and second baby – and they were both on the right side of the tests – but for my third, i had a young male doctor (and for some reason, i don’t know why, it seems to matter that he was a young male doctor) who said “why do you want these tests?” and i said “because i want to know if there’s something wrong with the baby.” and he said “would it make a difference to you if you knew there was something wrong with the baby? because these tests really aren’t very conclusive – if that helps.” so, whether because i didn’t want to make an issue of it or i didn’t want to ask myself too many questions – or ask him too many questions, i ended up not having the tests. and the baby turned out to be on the right side of anything i would have had him tested for anyway. but i have asked myself since – would i have aborted a wrong baby? i mean, i wanted another baby. and at the time, i may have thought there was such a thing as a wrong baby. now? not so much. now, a baby’s a baby. and let’s face it – all babies grow into something unexpected. unexpected when you look back – honestly – on that right baby you chose to have. and i do believe in choice, every step of the way, well into “fetus vs woman” life rights territory. i have no qualms about that – that’s life. or not. but i wonder what we are testing ourselves for – or against. how often are we choosing to have a right baby and how often are we choosing – or not choosing – to have a wrong baby? without knowing why we’re making that choice other than that we’ve had tests to tell us – right baby/wrong baby. i dunno. maybe it’s a problem of semantics and if we just called babies people…
i’m not really that vain. although i am unbelievably good looking
i find this weather very hard to appreciate. so grey and dingy. although i didn’t have to wear three hats to work to keep my shorn head warm. gawd. i’m lurvin’ this little ‘do. i must check myself at least every five minutes in the mirror – up from the every ten i used to check in on myself. which is weird because i’m not really that vain. although i am unbelievably good looking, i think.
sheena asked “Grrrrrr. Why do internet forum moderators always have to be so devastatingly beautiful…”
it’s just the natural order of things, sheena. what’s so deliciously ironical is that our admirers can’t even see us. they can intuit our beauteousness.