Monday, June 06, 2005

In The Cab Sunday On The Way To The Park And Away From BookExpo

(The following is a real conversation I am reproducing here as "verbatim" as my memory allows.)
int. I have just hugged my good friend Jamie goodbye; I came to BookExpo and met him in the lobby. I didn't actually go inside. I leave to hail a cab; too lazy to walk to the subway.
ext. Man in suit steps out of cab, I step in.
ME: Union Square West, please?
CAB-DRIVER: Yeah. You work with books?
ME: Yeah.
CAB-DRIVER: What do you do?
ME: I'm a writer.
CAB-DRIVER: Yeah? This thing has been crazy, I been pickin up people all weekend, I've had publishers and agents in my car.
ME: I bet.
CAB-DRIVER: That guy that just got out was a publisher.
ME: I should have begged him to publish my book.
CAB-DRIVER: Oh, you aint published?
ME: No. I mean, not yet.
CAB-DRIVER: Yeah, I hear it's tough.
(Silence for several minutes.)
CAB-DRIVER: What kinda writing do you do?
ME: Fiction.
CAB-DRIVER: What kinda fiction?
ME: I wrote a novel about a crazy family.
CAB-DRIVER: All families are crazy, right?
ME: Exactly.
(long slience)
CAB-DRIVER: Where you from?
(Voice over: I was reminded of my dad, who told cab drivers he was "Jordanian" instead of Palestinian.)
ME: I'm Arab American.
(Cab driver turns around and looks at me)
CAB-DRIVER: You don't look Arab.
ME: I was just at an Arab American writers conference, and a lot of chicks looked like me.
(he cranes his neck again, this time looks at my boobs.)
ME: Where are you from?
CAB-DRIVER: I'm Israeli.
ME: medaber ivrit?
CAB-DRIVER: Hebrew? No.
ME: I'm half Palestinian.
CAB-DRIVER: No shit?
ME: really!
CAB-DRIVER: I had some people in here from the Israeli day parade. Wow. A real mix of people today.
ME: What do you think of Israel right now?
CAB-DRIVER: Honestly, I been blaming the Jews lately. It's a mess over there.
ME: Yeah.
CAB-DRIVER: But your book's about a crazy Arab family?
ME: Yes.
CAB-DRIVER: The guys that talked about publishing in here, it sounds like you gotta write a Davinch-ki Code to get published.
ME: Maybe. But I can't write like that.
CAB-DRIVER: Yeah, intellectual stuff is hard to write.
ME: Ahem.
CAB-DRIVER: Hold on, do you mind if I stop here and check on my numbers?
ME: No, go ahead.
(CAB-DRIVER gets out and checks lotto numbers, returns).
CAB-DRIVER: Goddamn it. They got the numbers I played yesterday. Sonofabitch.
ME: I hate gambling, it messes with me.
CAB-DRIVER: Yeah, it's addictive.
ME: I don't even drink as much as I used to, because those things are always fun while you're doing them, and then you feel lousy.
CAB-DRIVER: Maybe, yeah. I had two drinks last night and my blood pressure wasn't so good. I almost fell off the chair. We were at my wife's niece's confirmation. Here OK?
ME: Yeah, thanks. Here you go.
(I hand him seven bucks)
ME: Good luck with the numbers.
CAB-DRIVER: Luck with the book.


Blogger femme feral said...

I love this!

hope you're having fun!

3:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Randa - you are a delight. I'm linking to this ...

11:48 AM  
Blogger rockslinga said...

thanks, leila! i find you delighful as well.

and ff: i AM having fun. loads of it!

1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's get specific - I wondered during the conference if any of these fabulous writers were writing while in NYC. We were all so busy panelling, schmoozing, noshing. Delighted to see you were using your time wisely.

I just love these little conversations you report on your blog. I took about 20 pages of notes while I was in NYC and didn't transcribe one conversation, although I had several unprompted talks with strangers, as well as long yak fests with old friends. Love this thing you do! And will be trying it for myself, as a kind of writer's workout. You're really good at it.

And it's no small feat to remember dialogue like this...

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One last thing
was the meter running when the cab driver stopped to check on his lotto? That SOB - was he ripping you off?

xoxo Leila

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to admit it,
but right now all i can think of are your boobs: what do they look like? Their texture. I hate this cab driver. How come that guy had a look, and i, a faithful reader, never did...
But hey, tajri 'lriyahou bila la tachtahi lsoufounou. (That's for the arabitude)

4:47 PM  
Blogger rockslinga said...

20 pages of notes is awesome. good work. i took some notes, but nothing so extensive.

and the cabdriver stopped the meter when he went to check on the #s. he was a good enough guy.

and theo, if they look hard enough, faithful readers can find my boobs online.

7:35 PM  
Blogger Doe said...

OK, the guy was Israeli, but still...I wish to hell people wouldn't say "the Jews" when they mean "the Israelis". It's like blaming Idi Amin on "the Blacks", or Darfur on "the Muslims". Not all Jews are Israelis, and not all Israelis are Jews, especially if that means "practicing Jews". It distresses me to have to point this out again -- to Israelis, or anyone else.

7:55 PM  
Blogger rockslinga said...

i totally agree, doe. it was funny, because he claimed he was israeli when he clearly wasn't (no knowledge of hebrew, obvious ny accent): he used jewish and israeli interchangeably, which is, yes, a mistake.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Doe said...

You can't see this, but I'm blowing you a big kiss. I wouldn't be so cranky if I weren't trying to quit smoking. I swear I wouldn't.

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot tell a lie but I do exaggerate, totally without meaning to. 20 pages? Maybe ten of real pages and another ten of little note cards. That figure 20 pages bothered me later. It was really an exaggeration.
And no dialogue.

1:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:41 PM  

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