Okay, I’ve done it. I’ve bent them to my will; taken what they had and used it to meet my needs. I’ve kidnapped them
The first time was on a rainy night in New York City. Have you ever tried to find a cab on a night like this? Impossible.
Alan (my former husband) and I were newlyweds, bar hopping in the Big Apple with Marius (see Valentine’s Day Two) and his current squeeze, Pamela. We were trapped in Soho, miles from our final destination. Drops of rain fell on our shoulders, on our hair and dripped off our noses as we watched full taxis pass us by.
Drastic action was called for. I took it.
Like Claudette Colbert in the movie It Happened One Night, I edged away from my companions, slid one foot off the curb and manufactured some wardrobe malfunction that required sliding my skirt high up my thigh to fix.
A van pulled over, the front passenger door opened and I hopped in.
As I chatted away merrily with the driver, the back door opened and my three companions slid in.
I asked the driver where he was going, which turned out to be nowhere near where we were headed. I told him our destination, solicited his sympathy for our transport-less state and asked, “Could you get us there?”
“Sure,” he said.
He spoke with a heavy Latin accent, so I asked, “Where’re you from?”
“Cuba,” he answered.
“How did you get here?” I asked in my sprightliest fashion. I was worried that he would feel outnumbered with four strangers in his van, so I was doing my best to make him comfortable.
“I’m a boxer,” was his answer, which seemed no answer at all to me, but gave Marius an opening to show off. He had been a college boxer and still followed the sport closely, so talk of bouts, rings and boxers bounced back and forth from the back seat to the front seat.
After 30 minutes of driving up major New York City boulevards and down rain-soaked side streets, I kissed Mr. Cuban Boxer on the cheek, slipped out of the passenger door of his van and joined my friends who huddled in the doorway of Marius’ apartment building while he fumbled for his keys.
“Wasn’t that lucky, my getting that guy to give us a ride?” I asked.
Can you hear the smug delight oozing from that phrase? After all, I’d brilliantly improvised a solution to our transport problem. This question was my invitation for the accolades I deserved to have pour down on my head like the rain pouring down on the city.
As we climbed the three flights of stairs, they recounted the rapid-fire conversation held on the sidewalk when I jumped in the van.
Marius: “ I said, ‘Is she insane?’”
Pamela: “ Yep, that’s what you said, and that’s what I thought. ‘We can’t get in that van!’ I thought. ‘This is crazy,’ is what I said.”
Alan: “Well, I was only thinking of you, Georgia, I said, ‘We can’t let him drive off without us! She’s about to be kidnapped.’”
Pamela: “Yep, you did say that. I thought, ‘Wish someone loved me that much. What I said was, ‘Are you kidding? She’s kidnapping him. Wait ‘til he finds out what he’s in for!’”
Marius: “ That’s when I said, ‘No, her life is in danger. We have to protect Georgia. Get in!’”
Alan: “No, I was the one who said, ‘Save Georgia! Jump in!’”
When we were settled in the living room, sipping glasses of wine, Marius said, “Georgia, I couldn’t believe you asked that guy how he got to New York. My god, woman, no one gets out of Cuba legally, unless he was one of the ones Fidel let out of prison and shipped over here to really screw us over.”
Turns out that Marius’ conversational gambit about boxing wasn’t a chance to brag. It was his best effort to save our lives by neutralizing what he viewed as a volatile situation.
Alan was convinced the guy was deranged on drugs. “Nobody in their right mind would come to a screeching stop like that, on a busy, rainy New York Saturday night, to pick up a bunch of strangers,” he said.
“He only saw one person. Me! Little old me,” I said, defending this harmless guy.
“Besides, Georgia has great legs. Can’t blame the guy for screeching to a halt. Under the circumstances,” said Marius.
By this time we were all laughing at the absurdity of it. I hijacked a van. I persuaded the driver to go miles out of his way. I was convinced that he was kind and harmless. At the same time, with the very same evidence before their eyes, Alan, Pamela and Marius were convinced he was high and that our lives were in danger every second we were in the van.
Alan said, “During the entire drive I sat with the pointed tip of my umbrella pressed against the rear of the driver’s seat. I figured a hard, rapid thrust could go through the seat, into his back and penetrate his heart.”
“Oh, what a guy!” I said. I stopped laughing long enough to lean into him seated next to me on the couch, nuzzle his neck and say, “Risking life and limb to save his wife.”
Then, as often happens when everyone is happy, safe and content with themselves and each other, we replayed every moment one more time, heightening the drama, exaggerating the disconnect between my view of the situation and theirs, laughing at my audacity and their worry.
….”’She’s crazy,’ I said!”…..
……”’She’s kidnapping him!’ was what I said.”….
…. “He’s one of the criminally insane Fidel gave to America, don’t you think?”
……”’One thrust with my umbrella and the guy would be history!’ was what I kept thinking.”……
Meanwhile, as we laughed and joked, one lone Cuban boxer drove through the rainy streets of New York City to regain the time and miles I’d kidnapped from him.
I said I’ve done it twice, didn’t I? This is only once.