17 January 2011

part 2: in which my life becomes a lifetime movie

{To read part 1 of this story, you'll have to go here.}

Mohammed was from India, and when I first got in his cab, he talked about the snow and general cold. Normal Midwestern talk, even here in the city. Weather is what bonds us, no matter where you sit in the cab.

At the first stop light, Mohammed turned on the dome light and turned around, smiling in a way that showed me he was missing a few teeth.

"Cold outside, yes?" Even the wrinkles on his forehead were smiling at me. Mohammed was old. Not oh-my-gosh-should-you-still-have-a-license old—more of a you-could-be-my-dad old.

"Too cold for a pretty girl like you."

I didn't follow his logic because I think cold intensifies pretty: think rosy cheeks and scarves in just the right shade to accent the rosiness. That's the rose-colored glasses view of cold.

In the reality view of Chicago cold, pretty girls are also practical girls who cover up every inch of skin with down and fleece, layering long johns and bulking up their pretty shapes.

"Oh, no, I think it's beautiful out," I told Mohammed. "The snow makes it really Christmas time."

I shouldn't have brought up Christmas.

"Christmas! Too much money at Christmas! Waste. Too much waste. All the lights and decorations and trees. Too much. Christmas cost too much."

I didn't know it'd be a touchy subject for Mohammed; we barely knew each other, after all. I was mostly acquainted with his views on the intersection of pretty and cold and besides, I'd just come from White Christmas. I was in the kind of mood when you expect people to start dancing in the snow.

Mohammed kept going. All the way to Lake Shore Drive, he berated Christmas. Driving past houses with lights on made it worse.

He pointed out all of them as if they were evidence he was entering in a trial: Mohammed v. The Cost of Christmas.

And at every stoplight, he turned on the dome light and turned around to make his point more personally. Eye contact and all, you know.

I didn't even have to say anything. Mohammed would end a sentence with "you know?" but before I could jump in, he'd list something else that cost too much money at Christmas.

And maybe that's a good thing: my contribution to the discussion would've been something like, "I love Christmas. I have a tree that I fully intend to leave up until Epiphany. I have lights on my balcony, and sometimes I forget to turn them off before bed and so they're on all night, shining away like little spotlights on Christmas waste."

Just before we pulled onto Lake Shore Drive, Mohammed said, "I bet your boyfriend buy you lots of presents for Christmas."

"No, he doesn't go too overboard." I slumped a little on the inside. I hate it when my tongue gets ahead of me.

Even as the words came out, I thought, 'Oh, good Lord, Kamiah Anne! Who, who doesn't go overboard? Why are you lying to Mohammed? Is this because of the Bing Crosby-Rosemary Clooney love story making you all moony for a relationship, young lady? Answer me!'

"Good! Good! Good man for a pretty girl! You got a smart man! That makes me so happy at Christmas!" Mohammed showed me his tooth gap again, switched off the dome light, and sped onto Lake Shore.

Great. My lie has brought great joy.

Mohammed was quiet for a few minutes, and I had great joy that he was no longer angry at Christmas because of me and my imaginary someone, my practical, imaginary someone whose fiscal values line up with Mohammed's.

I settled back into the seat and stared at the Hancock Building, decorated for Christmas with red and green lights at the top. Who could hate Christmas in a city like this?

"How you meet?"

"I'm sorry, what?" I'd been hoping Mohammed would call it a night, now that he was reassured of my romantic smartness. I was hoping that he'd stop hating Christmas and that my one little lie would have served a noble purpose: to bring peace and quiet on a cab ride.

"How you meet—what is his name? What your boyfriend's name?"

Obviously, my one little lie was just the beginning.

{Coming up next: how I filled 15 minutes talking about a man who doesn't exist. Read it here.}


  1. My favorite part: "Good Lord, Kamiah Anne!"

  2. I too have lied about my relationship status to a cab driver. I just felt like having a boyfriend that day



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