Discovering masculinity in a black cab on a cold London night.

“Terrible night isn’t it?” he says, smiling possibly, I can’t make eye contact.

“It is.” I say, trying to sound as likeable as possible. My voice betrays me.

“Seemed to be easing up earlier, but now it’s coming down again worse than ever!”

“Yeah, it’s terrible” As I close the door to the cab I make a quick list of all the things it’s safe to say to a cab driver. It seems longer than it is.

“No trains going your way then?” he asks.

Why does he ask? He seems judgemental. Is he judging me? Did I put him out this evening? I couldn’t catch a train. They’ve all been cancelled due to the cold. Everyone knows that snow turns steel into nitroglycerine. They’re not to blame and neither am I! That just leaves the cabbie. Must be his fault somehow.

I take some time to explain the evening so far. I speak confidentially, though trying to find a deep, knowing affectation to my voice which isn’t there. At the end of the story he makes a noise and nods.

“Yeah, most of them have been cancelled.”

“So how long have you been working?” I ask, furtively.

“Since five” he replies.

That was seven hours ago. Is that good? Or terrible? His voice offers no clues. I’ve no idea if he’s going to give me a hug or start crying. He does neither, and neither do I. Instead we roll along the empty icy roads together in silence. Until…

“So what have you been up to tonight? Working?”

“No, just hanging around, in and around London. Went to see a film, had some dinner…” I trail off expecting a nod of recognition or approval. I don’t get it. Should I have been working? He was working. Since five I believe. What he does do is turn on the radio rather abruptly. I don’t take this too personally as I seem to have exhausted the list. To my surprise it’s Mellow Magic’s Love Letters, a personal favourite, and our host is reading a letter from Sarah for Michael. The letter expresses how much they have been through in the last few days but she feels they’re bond is stronger than ever. It is made clear that though they are just friends she feels closer to him than any other relationship she’s had. And that they face an uncertain future, together.

This gets me thinking, as I’m sure it would have you. Have I ever really meant that much to someone? Is there anyone out there who really depends on me and would one day request a song for me and would know that song should obviously be over the hills and far away by led zeppelin? Do I feel that way about anyone? And how lucky am I to have those people and do I really show them how I feel?

My thoughts however are cut short by my companion who at this point emits a soft and yet very distinctive grunt. This is almost certainly a grunt of disapproval, and infinite judgement that defies and defeats any argument that could possible be offered in opposition. It’s a grunt that tells me that Sarah is stupid and that her sentiment is worthless. It tells me that these two are actually time wasters who should just have sex or move on or better yet, both! It tells me that Sarah is a slut who goes around with any guy she likes, probably an asshole and then come crying back to Michael who’ll nurse her and tend to her emotional wounds only so she can go back out the next day, leaving him with nothing. It tells me that these two are the nadir of all humanity and should be despised with all the hatred that could possibly be mustered.

“This song, is for Michael” the announcer whispers and the song kicks up, wind beneath my wings by Better Middler incidentally, and we sit there, he and I. I start to actually look at him. He’s a larger gentlemen, his clothes escape me but I remember red and white coming up, though he may not have been wearing them, they were there though. He has two tree trunks of arms on the steering wheel, authoritatively declaring that he’s driving this vehicle and it’s going his way. My house is just on the way.

“Got work in the morning” he asks, just as Bette Middler declares she can flyer than an eagle.

“No…No, actually I don’t” I briefly considered lying to the man but I don’t, though I don’t tell the truth either. I just stop there and let him make something of it.

He doesn’t. He doesn’t nod or anything. He just takes one hand off the wheel, making slightly less effort now to prevent us from crashing.

A car up ahead drives through a red light, but only just. Two bright flashes go off announcing that the all seeing eye has seen his sin and he shall be punished. A smile creeps over all insecure, god fearing drivers who delight that it was not they that got flashed.

“Camera’s still working” he jokes to himself.

“Nice” I say sarcastically and slowly enough to squeeze two syllables out of it, in the same way people in the 80s always used to say “Thatch-her”. But i don’t think it’s gone down that way. I think he now perceives me as one of the oppressors, approvingly observing as one of my cameras takes down another worker drone.

Then I look out the window. The snow is pouring down now, with all the ferocity and malice a sky news report might attribute to it. It’s getting in the way, it’s slowing down working people who have to go and earn money for their families…but it’s so beautiful. The fields stretched beyond my view are sheets of pure white spread out without crease across a cold dark landscape. The trees sparkle with bright adornments, and amongst it all the flakes continue to rain down, swirling and floating down to the soft ground. The lights of the evening play with the

Suddenly I relax. I move my eyes slowly around the cab. I brush a stray hair from my eyes with my hand and gently moisten my lower lip. I move my wait to my left side and bend softly at the waist. A house goes past fully outfitted with christmas lights and a sleigh crashed into the side of the roof. I find this adorable and say so.  I suddenly delight in every effeminate detail that separates me from the cabbie. This isn’t a class distinction. I make far less money and as a student am thought of with far less fondness than most people. And I do not consider myself to be more intelligent, less idiotic or differently disabled than the man at my side. But I am not the man at my side. I’m the person on my side. Differently insane.  And I respectfully disagree with my perception of his  judgement of me.

My attention turns back to the cold night beyond the glass and the dark road ahead.

P for Sarah and Michael.


About Nerds Get Bored
We're Nerds, and man, do we get bored. Our Twitter: @nerdsgetbored

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