I’d like to say it was the best of times, it was the worst of times; but that would be just plain wrong. Plagiarism aside, it was definitely the worst of times; not just for me but for a lot of guys. In Autumn of ’79, out of sheer desperation I got me a hack driver’s license and rented a cab for $30.00 per 12-hour shift, 6:00PM to 6:00AM, 7 days a week, driving a Yellow Cab.
Earlier that spring, as of April 1st, John P. Boynton, scion of the 121 year old Boynton Livery dynasty decided to close the doors on the dominant Boynton Yellow Cab Company rather than deal with a bunch of cantankerous unionized drivers. This led to a mad scramble for cab licenses by, not only his former drivers, but also outsiders such as myself. By Autumn several new companies and co-ops had formed to provide essential dispatch service. At first I drove for rattle-trap Milwaukee Veteran (a story in itself) then rented from a member of Yellow Cab Co-op.
FYI: a city ordinance at the time required all taxis using the name VETERAN to be driven exclusively by military veterans. Like I needed an additional slap in the face, they revoked the requirement so non-veterans could drive under that name. It was a thing of long standing done out of sympathy for out-of-work or struggling veterans.
While winter is peak season for cabbies (people just don’t like the cold) that winter was especially harsh, not just because of the weather, but because the streets were swarming with hundreds of newly licensed and independent taxis. There was no cap at the time. We were starving. We were prowling the streets all night and starving. There were times when I drove 12 hours, paid the cab rental and gas, and had just enough left over for eats. Yes. It was the worst of times. When Spring came, it only got worse.
One of my most memorable incidents happened while sitting with a fare at a red light late at night. A large black man was standing on the corner, probably well into his cups. He looked over at me and bellowed:
“You a loooong way from home, drivin’ that yella cab!”
I drove taxis for about six months and finally gave up when what little business there was dropped off even further that spring. There are many stories I could tell about those nocturnal types who only populate the inner city long after sunset.
There were a lot more taverns and night clubs back then and much of my custom was derived from them. We had two-way radios at the time and the dispatcher would give you an address and say: “See the bartender.” There was a good reason for this. If you just walked in to say, a crowded night club and hollered “TAXI!” 17 drunks would perk up all at once and get the notion it was time to go home and you’d start a major brawl.
On several occasions the same scenario played itself out. A lone fare, little more than a dark silhouette slouched low in an even darker corner of the back seat, his face lit only by the flickering flash of passing street lights, would clear his throat and query in a small voice:
“I suppose you know that’s a gay bar back there?”
Well, yeah. Back then all the bars had pay phones mounted on the wall. Beside the tattered telephone books, brightly colored stickers advertising taxi companies, scrawled telephone numbers, and the usual graffiti was a list of every gay bar in the city. Every gay bar listed all the other gay bars.
So, whenever a fare inquired as to whether I knew we’d just left a gay bar, being as I was raised in the Catholic Church, I was sorely, sorely tempted to say:
“And how long has it been since your last confession?”
I held my tongue, however.
When I had more then one passenger they’d often converse as though I wasn’t even there. I have eyes – I see. I have ears – I hear. But few feet away I overheard many a drunken remark. In the wee hours of the morning and a little past bar time, these fares were usually way past tipsy, more often they were just roaring drunk.
After a few weeks of servicing these gay bars I came away with the everlasting impression that homosexuality has nothing to do with love (they don’t know what love is) and little to do with lust; rather, it has everything to do with hatred for the opposite sex. The vindictive they spewed about members of the opposite sex in general or individuals in particular was rancorous and obvious. Bitchy as Hell.
You may well add an entry in your dictionary defining a lesbian as a woman who hates men and another defining a homosexual as a man who hates women. As Charlie Chaplin is said to have put it:
“A man’s true character comes out when he’s drunk.”
Remind me to tell you about “The Miracle On Greenfield Avenue”.
Driving taxi is an enlightening experience. The Dispatcher would send me into the darkest corners of the city. I have eyes; I observe. I have ears; I hear. I have memory; I put them together. In putting those things that I have both seen and heard together, I’m left with a general impression.
One bar in particular, The Sugar Shack, catered to lesbians. Tiny and windowless, with a wordless triangular sign prominently displayed on the exterior, signifying the preferred clientele. The Dispatcher would radio something like “Five-two-four, see the bartender….” I would enter the noisy, dimly lit bar and inform the bartender of my presence, (her nom de guerre was Rocky) who would then either notify or point out the party who requested it. This sometimes took several minutes; minutes in which I saw and heard a great deal. The bar crowd was generally young. Amid the music, laughter and general pandemonium I caught snippets of conversation, and discovered that lesbians like to boast. They boast about how much they can drink. They boast about their sexual conquests (the good looking babes they seduced). Where have I heard this kind of talk before?
While all egos are equal, in the natural world, at least in the higher species, the male is generally dominant. In the straight world of humans, because the man is physically larger and stronger, he is generally dominant over the woman. But in the gay world dominance remains up for grabs, so to speak. In attempting to pair off, gays do just as straights do, settling into that self-same polarized dominant-subordinate relationship of (more or less) masculine-feminine, male-female, butch-fem. But because gays are more closely matched physically (male-male) (female-female) dominance is more tenuous, conflicts and violence more frequent.
When homosexuals pair off as partners they pair off as masculine-feminine or dominant-submissive couples. The feminine/submissive types are called simply fems and the masculine/dominant types are called butch or bull dykes.
In sorting themselves out as to dominance, lesbians are often violent, and boast loudly about “whose ass they kicked”. Given the above, I was left with the everlasting impression that, generally speaking, lesbians have the mind-set of fourteen-year-old boys; but boys who are perpetually insecure in their manhood.
That’s it. That’s the punchline. Although true of all the sexually disoriented, lesbians are insecure in their manhood.
There once was a fruit of Khartoum
Who took a fairy up to his room
And all through the night
There was a terrible fight
Over who would do what, and to whom