The weekend after Thanksgiving is traditionally one of the slowest of the year for the downtown late night scene, aka "my bread and butter." Folks scurry around during the day in the frenzy of Christmas shopping, but few are in the mood for bar-hopping having barely recovered from Thursday's turkey extravaganza. Plus, the students are away until Monday.
This weekend has followed suit, though the first wintry cold of the season has helped some. Late late Friday, I scooped up a young woman from India. She was short and pretty, with a round face, dark skin and wide, glistening eyes. As she climbed into the front seat, she was absorbed in an emotional phone conversation, breaking just for a moment to give me her Farrington Parkway destination.
"Oh, that's horrible, Brady, just horrible. How's your father holding up? . . . Oh my God, it was supposed to be, like, this routine operation. How could this have happened? . . . I know, I know . . . I'll see you tomorrow. I'll be over at 11 . . . I will tell my mom. I'll call her; she's on a trip to India, coming back next week . . . Yes, me too. I love you."
"Oh, I can't believe it," she said, now speaking to me. "My best friend's mother just died yesterday. She was just in the hospital to get, like, a cyst removed, something simple, and a pulmonary blood clot developed - or something like that - and she went into a coma and was dead in two days."
"Jeez," I said. "That's a shocker. Did you know her well?"
"Oh, yeah. Brady and I have been close friends since, like, high school. His mother was a doll. I still can't believe this."
"Life is fragile, isn't it? My mother died young as well. She was folk dancing one Friday, had a heart attack on Saturday and was gone on Sunday."
"I don't know what I'd do if my mother died," she said. "It's not that we're exactly close, but, like, I so depend on her."
"Yeah, I know what you mean," I said as I took the diagonal right onto Ethan Allen Parkway. "It makes me think of that song by James Taylor - Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel. Old James got it right, don't ya think? You never know."
The girl paid the fare as we idled in her driveway, and said, "Thanks so much."
"Namaste," I replied.
"How do you know that?" she said with a chuckle. "It means 'hello' or 'good-bye'"
"I thought it also means, 'the soul in me acknowledges the soul in you.'"
"Perhaps. I'm actually Muslim."
"Well then, Salamu Alaykum."
My customer smiled warmly and replied, "Wa Alaykum As-Salam."