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Something in the Air

After sitting in the taxi lot at LaGuardia Airport for an hour, I got a fare back to the very slow city. Business was thin all night, but I did manage to have a few weird passengers. The first was with a man who took my cab for five blocks. After settling into the backseat, he said, "Let me guess -- you're an artist."Me: "An artist? No. Why do you say that?"

Him: "Well, I'm an artist, and you just strike me as one. You have very meditational eyes."

Me: "Meditational eyes? What does that mean?"

Him: "I can only see your eyes in the mirror, I haven't seen the rest of your face yet, but your eyes say that something needs to come out, like off your skin. Like sweat."

Me: (Confused, I turned on the air conditioner.)

Him: "I just feel it from you. You know, I'm married to a priest."

Me: "A priest?" (At this point I decided I needed to stop repeating everything he said.)

Him: "Yes. We got married in San Francisco."

Me: "That's nice. That'll be $4.20 please.

Him: He counted out the bills, "One, two, three...five. Bye!"

He shoved the money at me and was gone. I figured something was in the air that night because a half hour later I picked up a feng shui instructor who was visiting from San Francisco. Feng shui is the Chinese art of placement, which means that where you put stuff in your house is important and helps with your "flow" or something like that.

I said, "I read somewhere that if you put money in the northeast corner of every room in your house, it's supposed to increase your income."

He replied, "Actually, it's the south east corner, since the sun rises from there and has the most energy and pull in the morning. And you should really only do it in a room where you pay the bills or take care of business. You can also use stuff other than money, basically anything that signifies abundance in your life."

"Well, in my apartment, that would be cat hair," I joked.

He answered with something that I didn't really catch but sounded like, "Yeah, that would [something inaudible] your pussy."

I thought I heard him wrong, so I said, "Excuse me?"

I guess he didn't feel like clarifying because he said, "I have a dog."

The shift inched on and a little further into the night I picked up a 20-something woman coming out of Flashdancers, the strip club on 52nd and Broadway. She was going to Brooklyn, and her speech was slurred in a really weird way. She didn't seem drunk, just out of it, or maybe a little nuts. Or on pills, perhaps.

When she got in, she immediately made a call to someone named Elizabeth. After a brief chat, she said, "I'm tired. I'm not going out. I did my deal, and I totally need liposuction. But I'm off work tomorrow." And after a brief pause, she said, "You really need to move out of your dad's house. You're 17. I practically raised you."

When she hung up with Elizabeth, we rode into Brooklyn in silence until she got another call. After her initial hello, she slurred, "Anyway, I hate you, I hate you, I hate you... Do you know how much I love you?"

She was still on the phone when we pulled up to her destination. As she paid the fare, she looked at me and said, "You're hot," and then, turning away, "Oh, my phone! My boyfriend is gonna think I'm crazy."

She had somehow dropped the phone into her giant purse and wouldn't get out until she found it.

We sat there for several odd minutes as she bent over and yelled into her bag, "Hello? Jason? Scream loud so I can find my phone!" After a few tries, she found it.

She held it up like a prize, grinned like a chimpanzee, and shoved it through the partition at me. She told me to say hi to poor Jason.

I said "Hi," but I just wanted her out of my cab, so I added, "Okay, well, have a good night!" Apparently she wasn't ready to go. She got back on the phone with her boyfriend and continued casually chatting with him while not making any motion to leave. She was laughing and still slurring as she explained to him exactly how she lost her phone in her bag but that now she found it and everything was okay. I'm sure he was fascinated.

I repeated myself two more times, louder and louder so she could hear me over her own conversation: "Okay, have a good night!"

No response.

A deep breath and then another: "OOO-KAYYYY, HAVE A GOOD NIGHT!"

Suddenly, she seemed to remember where she was. She said, "Huh? Oh, right. Thanks cab driver!" and she got out and shut the door.


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