I went to dinner tonight with my girl and a friend of hers. Whilst munching on a lovely roast pork-and-green chili burrito, my girl enticed me to tell a story or two (or several, lets be honest) about some of my 'stories.'
These are not the things I write; these are the ones I collect. I'm a firm, firm believer in talking with - and listening to - as many people as possible. To me, a good conversation is an incomparable experience. What may seem prosaic or banal in the present may become funnier or more insightful in the past.
Over time, I've found that I'm a pretty good judge of conversations; I can usually tell if I'm in a good one. Sometimes I even amuse myself in a conversation even if no one else is entertained. I will freely admit that I allow my own wit to take control sometimes, even if it annoys the bejeezus out of others. What I like best though is when someone is able to match me - or even best me at it.
One such one popped into my head at dinner, and apropos of nothing, I mentioned it. It entertained me as usual; it entertained my dinner company as well.
For lack of anything else to put into this spot, I thought I'd share a bit of the wit from days of yore, back when I was driving a Yellow Cab in Jackson, Mississippi.
I got a call to pick up at the downtown Marriott. I swooped in to avoid the vultures of the other companies and picked up one gentlemen: "Take me to the airport," he said.
I asked if he wanted to go the quicker way or the cheaper way. Quicker meant taking interstates; cheaper meant a short slog along Highway 80 through Pearl to the airport. He instructed me to take the cheaper way. Money clearly wasn't an issue to him; he looked pretty well-off, but he was in no hurry.
The gentleman was African-American and an excellent conversationalist. Before we cleared the downtown, we were chatting and joking, and I was already impressed with his wit.
As we slipped into Pearl - which I've always considered the redneck capital of the free world, this urbane gent leaned forward from the backseat, looked around, and asked, "Is this one of those cities where perhaps I shouldn't be at sundown?" I answered that it might be, and asked if I should hurry. He laughed and told me to cruise on; he enjoyed a challenge.
As we passed by the charming farm-implement stores, the tattoo parlors, the secondhand underwear shops, the all-you-can-eat buffets and the fifteenth or sixteenth check-cashing joint, we saw a tall, young woman run across the far lane of the highway into the median. (Of course Pearl's main drag is a highway. Was there any question about this?)
I began to slow for the turn that would take us to the airport. As we did, we both found ourselves looking at the girl - tall, blond, good figure. Our heads swiveled toward her until we got right up on her.
Rotted teeth covered with a cheap gold grill, skanky ballpoint-looking tats on her forearms and thighs, a pair of shorts tight and high enough for us to see that she was quite familiar with the term "Brazilian." And the blond hair...wasn't.
Our heads swiveled back in disgust and he made a sort of "oooogh" noise. I glanced back in the rearview mirror and saw him shaking his head.
"You know," I said. "I don't understand why someone who is attractive would want to make themselves look so completely white trashy."
He then agreed; she was pretty skanky white trash.
The muse was upon me.
"Hey!" I shouted. "I'm not going to have that language in my cab!"
"What?" He actually sputtered.
"I won't have you using that word in my cab, sir!"
"The 'T' word."
He was quiet for just a second. "The 'T' word? 'Trash?'"
"I told you not to say that!"
He leaned forward. "I can't say 'trash'?"
"No, sir," I said. "It's offensive to us white people." I glanced at him; he was watching me. He nodded and leaned back in his seat.
"I can't say that word? Not at all?"
"You said it."
"It's a white word. Only white people get to use that word."
He was quiet about five seconds. Then he leaned forward and asked:
"Okay, but what if I'm just singing along to a country-and-western song...?"