I get in the cab yesterday and tell the driver my address and fumble with my phone, hoping to escape into Facebook to pass the time and ward off conversation.
It seems like it's working for a few minutes, until the driver says real loud in a nondescript foreign accent, "Where do you think I can get some nice dress pants, not too tight?"
Not particularly qualified to answer this question, I assume he's talking into some speaker phone to a family member or friend I didn't hear him dial.
But I look up, and he's looking at me in the rear-view, expectantly.
So I try to answer. I figure, he's a cab driver, probably doesn't have lots of money, so I'm not going to recommend Brooks Brothers. I recommend Kohl's instead.
"Those goddamned kids that work in Kohl's don't know shit," he says. "They don't know a fucking thing. They all wear tight pants. All the kids these days, they wear tight pants. They look terrible!"
He tells me he'll pay $100 for a pair of pants. Not $200, he says, but $100. I tell him to go to Brooks Brothers and see Mario Chiappetta, the world's greatest tailor, who sure as hell knows how to make nice dress pants, not too tight.
He thanks me, and he's quiet for awhile. But he's not finished on the subject of the kids these days.
"They only think about one thing."
"Sex?" I guess.
"EXACTLY!" he thunders. "They sit in my cab and just look at guy after guy after guy after guy after guy."
I think he's referring to Tinder, but I don't interrupt him.
"All they think about, all they talk about, is sex. It's disgusting. I don't even listen. I don't even listen!"
(Seems like he listens.)
I pointed out that Studs Terkel observed that when he was a kid death was everywhere—people waked family members in their own living rooms—but nobody talked about sex. By the time Terkel was an old man, nobody talked about death and everybody talked about sex.
"That's right!" the driver said, as we pulled around my block. "And in a few years, people will be having sex over there, and over there, and over there, right out in the open, all day, all the time!"
I laughed, and said it was a bit of a shame that we weren't young in the future he describes. "We missed it," I said.
And we laughed, and I paid him and as I left I shouted, "Mario Chiappetta!"
And he shouted Mario Chiappetta back.