Sometimes I think I have two distinct jobs: driving a cab, and driving a cab on New Year’s Eve. Year-round, Burlington is an active town with an array of events, concerts and festivals giving rise to busy—at times hectic—nights for us cabdrivers. But New Year’s Eve is altogether a different animal. On this last night of the year, from early evening until five or six in the morning, the demand for taxis far exceeds the supply. I mean far. Hectic gives way to frenetic.
I don’t mind; I know the drill, and I’m prepared for it. Bring it on.
This past New Year’s Eve held true to form. When I woke up on January 1, well past noon, the previous night was a blur — if lucrative. I’m certain I drove dozens of happy, drunk revelers, but the fares all seemed to blend together. For at least 12 straight hours, my nose had been planted on the grindstone, my attention fully consumed in the task of safely transporting my customers to their destinations. I know I talked to people throughout the night — that’s my nature — but I was hard-pressed to remember any of the details. As I said, a blur.
I dragged myself out to my taxi to clean the evening’s detritus from the seats and floor mats. As I stooped to remove an empty soda bottle from the back of the cab, I noticed a pair of black shoes wedged under the driver’s seat. Say what? Pulling them out, I could see they were platform pumps with extra-high stilettos. How did they get there? Why would a woman remove her shoes in the backseat of a cab? Then it all came flooding back to me…
New Year’s Eve, postmidnight, I swung back downtown to face a horde of cab-hailing people. Like a bouncer at a posh nightclub, I got to choose — entirely arbitrarily — who entered my taxi. All things being equal, I go for the more attractive people. (I’m not proud of this, but there you have it.)
I slowed to a crawl and waved over a pretty couple — a man and woman, both tall. The guy had lustrous, black hair and strong, masculine features. The girl — well, what can I say? She was voluptuous, with long, wavy, blonde hair. The full, red lips didn’t hurt, either, if you go for that kind of thing. Let’s just say that if this couple reproduced, their child would have an unfair advantage in life and, when grown, would have no trouble getting into nightclubs or securing a cab.
The woman was slightly wobbly as her partner helped her into the backseat. Taking a seat next to her, the guy gave me an address at a new condo cluster on Hinesburg Road. “Crazy night for you guys, I bet,” he added.
Before I could affirm his observation, the girl threw her arms around his neck and began smooching. “Sorry, dude,” he said, laughing. “She really wants to kiss me.”
“Well, how could she resist?” I said.
“I know, I’m such a sexy dude,” he joked.
That’s when the lady got serious. She began kissing his neck, his face, his eyes — basically any part of him not covered with clothing. As for the covered parts, she began — well, feeling them up, if that’s what the kids still call it.
This is not unusual. Couples have been making out in the backseat of cabs for as long as cabs have existed. Before that, lovers undoubtedly went at it in horse-drawn carriages. I said, “Oooh-kay, then — I’ll let you know when we reach your development.”
When my passenger swung herself onto her companion’s hips, it occurred to me that this might be — after a 14-year gap — the second time. In my 30-plus years of hacking, just once before had a couple had actual sex in the back of my taxi. There was something about this woman’s single-mindedness; she was, in short, having her way with him. Not that he was putting up a lot of resistance.
In the rear-view, I watched her shift and reshift her position as lower-level clothing began to be, if not removed, then peeled back. All of this while she kept up the passionate kissing. I could tell they were both trying mightily to hold back the noise, as if quieter sex in the back of a moving cab would be somehow more demure. The plain fact was, the semipublic setting was a big part of the kinky appeal.
Meanwhile, back on the farm, I was figuring out how to handle the situation. I suppose I could have told them to cease and desist, but why? Really, what harm was being done?
Of greater concern was my voyeuristic participation in the festivities. Lechery is not my thing. But, as I said, the girl was gorgeous, and her blond mane gently undulated to the movement of her head and lips and the grinding of her hips. It was flat-out erotic — yup, I said it. It took all my will power to keep my eyes on the road and off the carnal movie playing in the rear-view mirror. Visualizing Eleanor Roosevelt helped — a great humanitarian, early feminist and not a hottie.
With an ETA of two minutes, I announced, “OK, folks, we’re almost there.”
The guy said, “Roger,” as the women pivoted back onto her seat. There was the sound of giggling and rustling clothing. As the guy paid the fare, I said, “Well, brother, you’re definitely having a better New Year’s Eve than me.” He chuckled and said, “True that.”
I had pulled in perpendicularly, facing the condo, and I watched the girl follow her beau up the walkway to the front door. She was rocking a short black skirt and black tights, which may help explain my failure to notice her shoes, or lack thereof. Just before she closed the door behind her, she turned, looked at me with a sly smile and gave a little wave.
I don’t know for sure if the shoes I discovered belonged to her, but I’m seriously considering keeping them as a memento.