I drove the mean and comedic streets of this small town again last night, and an early incident underscored the reason for the existence of this modest blog. So patience while I cue the music...
As the hockey game was getting underway in New Jersey, and the radio station I rely upon was failing to deliver anything but static, I found myself climbing the rear porch steps of a modest residence, looking for one of my regular customers. This particular gent I've never met when he's sober, and tonight he wasn't going to let me down. I arrived just as an East coast fiddle-tune was hitting it's stride, blaring from a 70's vintage, boxed-in, turntable-stereo unit. The needle was fairly hopping in the vinyl's grooves, thanks to the bouncing feet of a deeply appreciative, two-man audience. Sadly, but comically, the audience was well past coherence, let alone sensibility. I could've sat down, had a drink, and joined in, and they wouldn't have noticed, so intent were they on enjoying the tune. Then one of them, deep in his cups and well into his 60's, noticed me standing there. He let out a roar, to make himself heard above the music, or so I guessed at the time. As it turned out, yelling was as natural to him as barking is to a small dog, when it intends to threaten but succeeds only in annoying.
I made it clear I was merely the cab driver, here to pick up his pal, who had yet to notice me. He never would. He was seated, head down, swaying side to side, hands failing to clap like repeatedly missed high-fives. My efforts to gain his attention went unheard. I called his name, yelling to be heard above the music. This went on for five futile minutes. His cohort finally got his attention, briefly, and that led to an exchange of the sort of painful-to-watch confessionals that come only from the truly plastered..."You're my best friend in the world...you're my only friend..."
It was more pathetic than touching, more plea than pledge, and it was the last marginally coherent thing he said before falling from his chair to his knees, and finally to his face, as the floor rushed up to greet his brow, and rest upon his cheek.
I retreated then, under a growing, misdirected volley of drunken threats and imprecations. The last man standing was convinced that I was somehow the cause of his partner's collapse, and he nipped at my heels like an angry chihuahua, as I called in the cancellation, and tuned back in to the static on my radio.