I passed a telephone pole and noticed that it didn’t have a shadow.
This told me that it was high noon.
I had learned in the Boy Scouts that when you’re lost in the woods and don’t know what time it is, just look at a telephone pole....
It will tell you all you need to know about joining youth organizations.
I cleared the decks, started the engine, pulled out onto Mississippi, and headed straight to Chambers Road.
The road was wide and there was virtually no traffic. I’ll confess it. I was going approximately 8 MPH over the speed limit.
I’m not going to play games with you, unless you’re a cop....
I dropped my flag and turned on the meter, and began working my way over to Leetsdale Drive and on to Buckingham Square, a mall right across the border of Denver and Aurora.
Leetsdale Drive is one of the few diagonal roads that cut across the Denver metro-area. It was originally built by wagon trains.
It links up with another pioneer trail called Parker Road, which continues on southeast to Texas or Oklahoma or some damn place....
My knowledge of midwestern geography pretty much ends at Aurora. I know virtually nothing about Kansas, except that I grew up there.
Anybody who doesn’t tip after twenty-five is never going to tip, but I rarely encounter such men, and when I do I feel like an explorer who has stumbled across a heretofore unknown tribe deep in the jungle.
But then one would hardly expect primitive people to adhere to the rigidly-defined social customs that have evolved over thousands of years of civilization. H. Rider Haggard fascinates me.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the army, in the way that a defeated chess master replays a game in his head again and again, trying to figure out precisely where he went wrong.
Of course I would never tamper with the outcome of my two years in the army, which was a discharge.
But it’s the individual moves that keep coming back to me, the work-details I couldn’t dodge, the officers who caught me saluting with my left hand, the promotions I never got, the demotions I des...erved.
No matter how many times I got away with goldbricking, malingering, or outright dereliction of duty, I was still haunted by the times I failed, which were like tiny flaws in an otherwise perfect diamond.
Chess fascinates me.
It was a quarter after ten and I had three dollars to my name, although I had already spent at least that much on joe and
But that was “yesterday’s” money as I like to think, meaning part of my starting cash....
As bad as I am at math, I am capable of mentally dividing numeric concepts into neat categories that make me feel like I’m not broke.
I don’t know why they teach Algebra in high school when denial is far more useful.
If she had been fifty years younger I might have gotten rough. Instead I said, “Keep your pennies,” and walked down the steps and got into my cab and drove away.
When I got to Colfax I said, “Jaysus!”
Normally I say “Fer the luvva Christ” but I was wound so tight that I went with Hemingway rather than Faulkner....
Little-known fact--at least, it was little-known to me until I read it in a newspaper article: pennies are not legal tender in America.
This is why people who try to pay their federal income taxes with jars of pennies are told by IRS agents to go home and bring back real money.
The perpetrator was an anti-tax fanatic. I felt bad for him. I always feel bad for optimists....
I figure the Founding Fathers had anticipated optimism, and wrote a law excluding the once-cent piece as legal tender.
You know a man has hit rock-bottom when he devises a scheme to get the government’s goat. Believe me, that goat is ungettable.
If you’re like me, you rarely see hundred-dollar bills. It’s like seeing a Picasso at the Denver Art Museum.
You stare at it and think about how much money it’s worth.
Maybe you don’t understand painting. Maybe you don’t understand why something that looks like it could have been drawn by you is worth millions....
But just knowing that armed guards are planted discreetly all around the room gives you an appreciation for art that you never got from Jon Gnagy.
I drove straight to Colorado Boulevard, turned right, and headed south. Traffic was light. I was breezing along. This was the stuff.
I was an asphalt warrior headed into the fray. Things were back to normal. I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get things back to normal.
I don’t know why. My normality is neither healthy nor realistic, but whatever it is, I’m good at it....
I listened to the calls being offered on the radio as I cruised. I was east of midtown, over by City Park. I wanted to stay away from hotels.
I knew myself well enough to know that the sight of a vacant cab-stand would instantly drain my vast reservoir of will-power.
It’s always good to know things about yourself even if most of it is gossip....
But I do prefer 7-11 joe. If there isn’t a 7-11 in the vicinity, a Winchell’s donut shop is Plan B.
The joe at both places is almost indistinguishable, like the difference between Johnny Walker and Cutty Sark, but only cab drivers and hobos draw such fine distinctions.
I drove to a Starbucks and bought a fresh cup of mocha. I’m not even going to apologize for that.
I sure didn’t apologize to the clerk for handing him a twenty at nine in the morning. I figured that a store that sells nothing but coffee would have plenty of change at nine in the morning.
I’ll admit it. I occasionally like to have a slug of yuppie mud with all its fancy frills. I’ll take my alkaloid diuretics wherever I can get them....
I had a full tank of gas and a twenty-dollar bill in my hand, yet I couldn’t pick up any fares until I had made small change out of the bill.
O. Henry could have done wonders with that premise.
I drove past a car-wash and slowed down because car-washes have change machines....
But then I stepped on the gas and kept driving. Just the thought of stuffing the twenty down the gullet of a machine that promised to give me change made me laugh out loud.
I’m onto you, O. Henry.
I glanced at Andrew Jackson’s face.
Ol’ Andy Jackson, seventh President of the United States.
A nun made us memorize the Presidents back in sixth grade, so I knew our forefathers numerically....
That was the only instance during my grade school years when I was good at math.
But I had a secret. I didn’t memorize the numbers, I memorized the words, i.e., “Seven” rather than “7”.
Keep that under your hat. I wouldn’t want my diploma repossessed.
The 7-11 where I gas up is normally not very busy. It’s located at what you might call “the edge of the city” which in north Denver near the viaducts.
Most people are afraid to get out of their cars in that part of town. There’s something about viaducts that give people the willies.
But elevated roadways don’t bother me. I just keep my back to them and concentrate on squeezing out the unleaded....
I do keep my eyes closed, but that’s because the fumes make my whites red, and I have found that red-eyed cab drivers give fares the willies.