More tales from a San Luis Obispo cabbie

February 6, 2022

Dell Franklin in his cab

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Cabby’s Corner in SLO Town,” which includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.

Four of them, all drinking age Cal Poly students, come out of Mother’s Tavern, “the” pick-up mill in San Luis Obispo. They appear dispirited at one in the morning, and I’ve picked this crew up before—pleasant, respectful boys with fine breeding who will go places in the American economy and social stratum. They ask me how my night is going as they pile in. I tell them it’s like any other night and ask them how their night is going.

The clean-cut casually groomed kid beside me says, “I spent eighty bucks on my credit card buying shots of Jagermeister for this stone fox and her friends and got shot down.”

Accompanied by jeers in the back seat, one kid says, “Poor loser.”

Another voice: “Shot down by his dream girl.”

And another voice: “For the tenth time. What a lap dog.”

“Hey,” says Shotgun, facing his accusers. “You losers took gas, too. I wasn’t the only one buying shots.” He turns to me, a sheepish grin on his unlined face. “Hey, boss, you been around, seen it all, we’ve talked, right? What do I do to get laid around here?”

Before I can answer, a kid in back says, “There’s this fox he’s after, absolute knockout, unbelievable body, beautiful face, Scott’s dream girl, boss.”

This kid beside me, Scott, wants to be in the Peace Corps, do good things for humanity. “I can’t seem to get anywhere with her,” he confesses to me. “What do you think I should do?”

“Stop asking her out and buying her drinks,” I advise, without a hitch. “Instead, if you get the chance, try and piss her off.”

“Are you serious?” He’s shocked, and shouldn’t be.

“Look, kid,” I say. “First of all, the kind of fine feathered foxes you’re pursuing have been hunted and flattered since day one, every hard-breathing tom trying to impress them, win them over, like the ultimate show-pony trophies. So lesson number one is: You never agree with them. Number two: Once you have them on the defensive, you find some flaw in their make-up and subtly start an argument. Like: ‘Hey, I like your hair, but it’s all wrong.’ Condemn their strongest beliefs and attack their insecurities. It’s war, man. When you have them really flustered and angry, walk off before they do. I guarantee they won’t forget you and will be troubled. Now you’ve piqued their interest. You’re a challenge, not some lackey, a beggar, a Mr. Nice guy with hat in hand!”

I negotiate a turn onto the main drag and head for the house they share in an area near campus. Scott is just staring at me, a bit stumped.

“Scott,” I say. “And you guys in back, lesson number three is read ‘Sexus’ by Henry Miller, and ‘Women’ or anything else by Charles Bukowski. Those two disgusting reprobates felt women were never completely happy unless they were debased, deflowered and thoroughly dominated; especially if they were the type of girls you kids put on pedestals.”

Scott sighs, sags, obviously overwhelmed by the slew of wisdom I’ve just heaped upon him. “I don’t think I can be that way, sir. I’m kind of a boring engineer type, like my Dad.”

I recognize this kid is in the same dismal place I was at his age, only I was in the army and could at least get joyously drunk and buy prostitutes in places like Amsterdam and Barcelona when on leave.

“Scott,” I say. “You and your pals shouldn’t be messing around with foxes and dream girls anyway. The only thing important now is you get laid so you gain a little confidence, and you do this by pursuing ordinary looking barflies with the juices flowing and hopefully somewhat drunk. You buy them drinks—preferably tequila shots. Always be a gentleman around the neglected and downtrodden. You’ll find a steady lay. You’ll both end up having fun and relax around each other, you might even become friends. It’s good karma in the long run and drunken sport-fucking is the best sex always until love rears its ugly head. Don’t let that happen.”

“Jesus Christ, doctor,” says a kid in back, as we turn off the main drag. “You ever been married?”

“Of course not. Like Somerset Maugham said in The Moon and Sixpence—‘there’s no object more deserving of pity than the married bachelor.’”

They all laugh. “You’re the man, doc!”

“Got any more tips, Doctor Feelgood?” asks another kid in back.

“Yeh—don’t go to hot spot pick-up mills, like Mother’s, with everybody waiting in line. You wait in line to get into those places; you look like just another desperate chump. Go to dives. The best women I’ve ever met came out of dives. You can get good and sloppy drunk in a dive and make an ass of yourself and the ladies’ll still like you. That’s what dives are for. And, if you strike out, you can still make an even bigger ass of yourself with your buddies.”

I pull up to a house in a neighborhood referred to as “the jungle,” a section just off campus where students rent houses and are hated by neighbors who are not students.

“Thanks for the advice,” Scott says, offering me his official hand, which I shake. They all flip singles at me, over-tipping their mentor. One kid, standing outside the door, says, “Thanks for the advice, doc, though I think you’re fulla shit and know it!”

“Hope yah get laid,” I say loudly as they walk toward the house, and they all wave with backs turned to me.

*******

I’m sent immediately to Bull’s Tavern, the kind of dive I recommended to my protégés. When I arrive, four sweaty well-knit jock types in shorts and rugby shirts, and a girl, pile into my cab. Three guys sit in back, another shotgun, the girl wedged between us. She is in shorts and midriff blouse and smells of soap and shampoo, a petite blond with long naturally wavy hair and an expressive, un-neurotic face. She is small-breasted. As she smiles at me, I feel her positive energy, exuberance and radiance.

“How’s our cabby doing tonight?” she chirps perkily. “Any interesting rides?”

“I just dropped off four male students who spent hundreds of dollars in Mother’s trying to get laid, and couldn’t even get a phone number. I advised them, but I don’t think it’s gonna do ’em any good. They’ll probably marry the first girl who sleeps with them.”

“Poor little baby boys,” she says with mock sadness, pushing her bottom lip over her top.

The crew in back begin wise-cracking.

“Hey, cab driver, maybe the wench sitting next to you’ll shack up with those techie geeks. Do you know she’s the head cheerleader at Cal Poly?”

I turn to the blond. “Really?” She smiles at me, nods.

“Yeh, all the cheerleaders at Cal Poly give out,” says another strong male voice in back. “Even those losers you picked up could score with the Cal Poly cheer leading skags.”

“Cal Poly’s got the ugliest cheerleaders in the country,” pipes another deep, abrasive voice.

“They oughta give out, dude, ugly as they are.”

“Sluts!”

“Miss Piggies!”

“It ain’t like high school, when they were hotties.”

“Ha ha ha.”

“Hey cabby, can we nip from our flasks?”

“Sure, go ahead.”

“Wanna nip?”

“Nah.”

“Yeh, man, Cal Poly cheerleaders are Mickey Mouse. Nobody on campus gives a shit about ‘em. They’re a laughingstock.”

Although I was a jock in high school and college, I never pursued cheerleaders, felt they were goody-goody and could not stomach their rah-rah antics and constant excited optimism and their inclination to go for boys who wore football letterman jackets, which I never did. This cheerleader winks at me, like we are in cahoots, an imp in her clear blue eyes.

“Do you know, Mr. Cab Driver, that over 90 percent of the super macho male jocks at Cal Poly are secret homosexuals?” she says.

“I didn’t know that, young lady. You sound like you’ve made an extensive academic study on the subject. Maybe you’re on to something.”

“There goes your tip, cabby,” says the first loud voice in back. “Sucking up to the bitches.”

“You blew it, old man.”

The cheerleader glances up at me, a gleam in her eyes, and pats my knee reassuringly, sending a tingle to my spine. “Boys that talk about girls in a disparaging way, and brag about all the ass they’re getting…you know what we call them?”

“No, beautiful, I don’t.”

“Male hysterics. It’s in the psychology books. I’m a psych major. They feel they must brag and lie about their so-called conquests and treat all women like sex objects to hide the fact they’re momma’s boys and really want to fuck each other. You know, the pseudo macho act obscures their insecurities about being real men because they secretly want a man.”

“Male hysteric,” I muse out loud. “Great phrase.”

They’re all booing in back, along with shotgun. They call her a lesbian, dyke, slut, etc. It is a very short ride, a little over a mile, much to my disappointment, and I pull over at their apartment complex which borders the jungle.

“Don’t worry about the tip,” says the cheerleader. “I got it.” She hands me a ten for a five dollar ride and tells me to keep the change. When all the grousing bozos pile out, she demands a hug, and I give her a good one. She is feather-light yet fibrous, a real heartbreaker, a keeper. I watch her go off with the straggly drunken crew, knowing that if I were her age I’d sacrifice all my convictions or any vestige of common sense, wear a letterman jacket, buy her a drink, try to score a touchdown on every run, and literally swim through a sea of shit to pursue and secure her.


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Travis from SLO

So much for valuing women for anything more than how they look.


805thirdeye

Smart girl. A diamond in the rough haha. Love it! You had me in your cab on this piece! So unfortunate & I see a good man is still hard to find. Nobody messes with a female good-tipper.