This is not the sweetest of topics this week so if you happen to be noshing while reading please stop noshing. Or stop reading! For this story takes place not in Bar-land where the various aromas collide in a bouquet of “vintage” (just go with me on that one, okay?), but on the way to same in a smelly cab. A real smelly cab. One that threatens to attach its funk to its fare. Which last night was me!
Now the first thing that tells you that something’s not right is when a cab pulls up, it’s forty degrees, and both of the back windows are halfway down. It either means a member of the Polar Bear Club was likely the last occupant, or a normal person was just trying to fucking breathe. And last night when I was approached by a cab whose windows were thusly open (a cab which I had to take, by the way, I was late for work and cabs just weren’t that plentiful), I quick found out that the previous fare was the latter. A hapless citizen simply trying to respire. Man, did this cab smell!
But before I continue this assault on the senses let me put out this disclaimer. This is not to demean any nation or “ism” (as many are wont to do), who in honor of some certain rite or holy day can’t take a bath on that day (which is not the “rosiest” of events either but what the hell ya’ gonna do?) I’m simply referring to a cabbie from the Grand Funk real road. That’s all. A guy who should hand out plastic body suits not just to shield his B.O., but the cologne he tried to mask it with which was heinous. He smelled like a bagful of armpits sprayed with a room deodorizer. Fruit scented!
So when I warily entered his cab last night and gave this man my directions, which of course he didn’t respond to as he was listening to someone on his head set and murmuring unintelligibly, I immediately addressed the window situation at hand. Because even here in this stop position with the windows more than half down, the assault on my nostrils was fast and full freaking throttle. Holy shit! I thought, blinking through the haze, do I offend or do I defend my very being here? Which means, do I roll down the windows, all the way down, creating a Tundra cross breeze, clearly telling the guy up front, “You stink!”? For what else could it mean in forty degree weather? Or do I quietly respect his feelings and bear the onslaught?
Well if you were me amidst this miasma and on your way to work where you dealt with the public, and you feared contact contagion afoot most foul (remember that Seinfeld episode where the valet “funked” up Jerry’s car and subsequently the cast?) you’d do exactly what I did which is roll down the windows. (And maybe even open the doors if it was legal.) I mean, fuck it, this is war, right? Or like Jerry put it when the funk wouldn’t go, “It’s a presence, it’s The Beast!” and thought he’d need a priest to perform an exorcism, I thought I’d need The Breeze to defeat The Beast. With gusts up to forty!
So as I sat there watching the meter uptick, traffic was truly a bitch, trying to act as nonchalant as possible, I could see the cab driver’s eyes looking back in the mirror. What is he thinking? I thought. Is that anger, hurt or confusion staring back at me? Or just a guy who’s checking me out now that his conversation on the headset had ended. Well I decided I didn’t care what he thought because even though I’m not some callous hump, insensitive to other people’s feelings, I had to leave this cab with the funk unattached. I had customers to see, god dammit, if ever I could get there. Which brings up the next problem. Because of all the traffic, the constant stop-and-go took away my cross breeze. My weapon! And I actually did start to wonder if the Beast would be with me. If I would waltz into work not only smelling like I ran all the way in a three layer plastic jogging suit, but given this guy’s cologne or his fucking after shave, had spent the whole afternoon with a gaggle of hookers!
Then I thought about just how insane this all was. And not just my paranoia. I mean if I came to work, or anyone did, smelling like I put on a used sweat suit and dowsed myself with a gallon of eau de Hades, how long would I have a job at all to go to? Not very long. Yet these stinking guys (and far too many) ride around in these fume-o-biles totally employed. And we’re at their mercy… at least if we’re in a hurry and late for work.
Well, about five blocks shy of my destination, stopped once again and sitting without my cross breeze, I told the guy to pull over and let me out. I figured if I could jog the rest of the way in, maybe around forty miles an hour… unleash my inner cheetah, as it were… I could shake these fetid remnants of this ride from hell. I could aerate with speed and guile this collateral fume-age.
Ahh, but since no one can run that fast, to be sure (and certainly not yours truly), when I walked behind the bar to begin my shift, I subtly kept sneaking whiffs and sniffs of my person. For I still wasn’t sure. And when no one asked me to open a window or fanned their nose with a menu, or gave me a look that betrayed some some covert agenda, I finally laid the entire rotten matter to rest. Business would go on on as usual in “vintage” redolence. Which means, however slow or fast I had jogged, let’s call it two miles per, and however insane my thinking was that I’d somehow brought in the funk just like the Seinfeld crew, the Beast had been defeated and likewise my fears. Even without me having to call in a priest.
“Delightful night, isn’t it, miss, and what can I get you to drink?” I would ask, odor free! Holy shit, if you only knew, I would think.
(Who says this is easy???)
Happy Thanksgiving, you guys, I’ll see ya’ next week-end! 🙂