Boring He Said

imagesGot some good advice from my Facebook friends Monday night when I told about the reader wrote to say that my latest column was the most boring thing he had ever read in the paper.

A couple of people asked to see the piece, so they could see for themselves. Here it is then: the word for word exchange I had with the cab driver who came to bring me to the bus station.

Maybe a column shouldn’t have as much real life stuff in it but I thought the opposite was true. Anyway, here she is:

Because I had to be in the city to catch a bus at 10am, I ordered a taxi for 9:00 and was out in front of my house at 8:55.

With an hour to traverse the eight miles to the bus station I felt happy and relaxed, the way you do in a cab when the cabbie is friendly and present, which is to say NOT talking on his phone the whole time.

In fact, this cabbie did use his phone once when it rang but only because he saw that it was his wife, just waking for the day. He told her it was raining out so she should just turn over and go back to sleep and who wouldn’t be happy to overhear a cozy domestic exchange like that?

Plus, friendly? He was sure friendly.

As he wove deftly through the braiding lanes of traffic on this expressway, he chatted about this and that: About how he had just been on this road two hours ago, bringing a woman to the airport. About how his stop-for-a-drink-after-work pals were all cops and firefighters. About how he graduated high school back in the 70s. 1974 to be exact.

“I know about the Class of ’74! “ I said. “Did you have shoulder-length hair and go to the prom in a tux with a ruffled shirt and a velvet bow tie?”

“Who knows about the tux, it’s so long ago, but yup to the shoulder-length hair!”

“And did they play Stairway to Heaven for all its endless length including that part in the middle when the tempo changes and you can’t slow-dance to it at all?”

“No doubt!” he said and broke into song. “Dah dah DAH dah dah dah, dah dah DAHdah dah dah and they’re buy-ee-ing a stair-eh-way to Heah-ev-en.”

We rode in a remembering silence a while before I recalled what had just happened on this road the week before.

“What a shame it was about the intoxicated driver in the Caddy who hit that trucker so hard he went over one of these guard rails and fell 40 feet down onto the spur beneath!”

“Another few inches and he would have fallen the full 400 feet to that street.”

“But he’s OK, I read.”

“If you call a broken back and neck OK. You sound like the driver. ‘Well he didn’t DIE,’ she said when she heard about his injuries.”

“No, I know! A broken neck and back is awful-”

But he was still talking:

“I also hear that-“

I wanted to interrupt him but by the time I saw what had happened it was already too late. In all the talk he had exited right when he should have stayed straight and now here we were in the long, no-turning-around tunnel that finally brings you up at…

The airport.

“You know I’m actually going to the train station, right?” I said in a small voice.

“Dang! “ he exclaimed. “ I have NEVER done this before!”

He went on. “Not to worry though. Watch this!” – and he orbited those airport roads faster than a hamster orbits his hamster wheel, dove into a second tunnel, surfaced four miles farther south, shot a mile and a half back north and landed me at the bus station at  last with 20 minutes to spare.

“I’ll eat the $5 toll for the airport,” he said, but I gave that same amount right back to him as a tip.

Because really how could I not? If there was ever a case of dual responsibility for that proverbial wrong turn, this was surely it.”

And now, just for fun, that very song and a typical couple from the good old class of ’74:

generic prom goers 70s

Stairway to Heaven

Funny that I was just writing yesterday about my teaching days when all of a sudden someone put this up on my Facebook page. It’s from the year I ran the prom and these are the students on the Prom Committee.

I can almost name every one of them.

That’s Nancy Camelo standing over to the right, that much I’m sure of.

She was a good friend to a girl named Barbra who called her “Poco” because she often wore her hair in braids, which is how we all pictured Pocahontas back then.

Barbra herself would not have been in this picture. She didn’t actually GO to the high school that year but came around a lot with her guitar anyway and sat in the back of the class, adding greatly to the discussion. (I was an English teacher so there was always plenty of discussion.)

You’d never get away with that kind of thing today, having a student who didn’t actually go to the school coming to class anyway but that was the 70s for you. I was invited to teach four electives and write the curriculum myself.

 Though she didn’t go to the high school Barbra did go to the prom – in a tux – and back in the 70s doing a thing like that was pretty much unheard of.

I remember on the big night when the headmaster called me over, pointed to her and said, “What is THAT one?” I had no idea what he meant.

 “She’s a human female” I said, probably rather jarringly. He said he knew that.

Anyone could see that, though she was a bit of a tomboy. She always reminded me of how Scout Finch would look at 17.

 I wonder now if I should have said, “THAT one? That’s a young human being.”

But I was more timid then and very young myself and did not understand quite yet that men ran the world and intended to keep running it for some time to come. I guess that didn’t happen now did it?


Here are some generic prom kids from the era now. And underneath them that endless song that gave that prom its name.