Do You Remember What It Was Like To Be Born?

The Street Hustle

One of the songs I don’t like to admit I feel a kinship with is off of Richard and Linda Thompson’s 1974 masterpiece I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight.  The song entitled, ‘The End of the Rainbow,’ is ostensibly sung by an adult to a baby lying in a crib.  The chorus goes something like this:


Your Mother works so hard to make you happy,

But I’ll be a friend, I’ll tell you what’s in store.

There’s nothing at the end of the rainbow.

There’s nothing to grow up for anymore.

Don, a guy I used to jam with who could play this song, including the melody fills note for note, called it the ultimate coming of age tune.  I suppose this is true if you believe the Buddhist precept that we are born to die.  Personally, I listen to this song when I am having a bad, bad day.  I usually pull up the MP3 on my IPod when there is no hot water in my building for a shower in the morning.  It helps to know there is always someone out there who is more miserable than you.

In late March of 1997, I wasn’t having that kind of luck.  My day started with no hot water and went straight into the shitter from there.  The girl I was seeing wanted nothing to do with me anymore, a really ugly day on the job and someone screaming about back rent.  Whatever I did, wherever I went, it seemed like something was getting in my way.  The annoying sales clerk with the nasally whine and slippery smile.  The person ahead of me in line asking for an explanation of nuclear physics when all that was needed was a simple yes or no. 

The final straw that threw me into pissed off overdrive was late that day, around 10:30.  I was walking across Park Avenue South at 17th Street.  Although I had the right of way, a Yellow cab barreled into the crosswalk missing my left knee by millimeters.  “What the fuck are you walking,” the cabbie screamed in an Indian sub continent lilt.  It was like being verbally beaten down by Apo from The Simpson’s.  It was then that I flashed on Sid Caesar and what he had done in a similar situation years earlier.

I approached the driver’s side window and rapped on it with my right middle knuckle.  “Do you remember what it was like to be born,” I asked after he rolled down the window halfway. 

“No, I don’t remember what it was like to be born,” he said.

“It was like this motherfucker,” I hissed, grabbing him by his shoulders and trying to drag his ass out of the cab, whacking his head three or four times on the open window.  When I had him halfway out of the car, I felt a hand on my shoulder.  “Easy son,” a voice said.  “You can let him go now.”  I looked over my shoulder at a beat cop with a wide grin.

As his partner was busy demanding the taxi driver’s license and registration, the cop told me just how funny he thought my remark was.  However, he also told me “Halfway out of the window is a good story.  All the way to the pavement is called assault.”  I decided to take his advice, go to a local bar named Barfly, have a couple of beers and then right into the apartment for the night.  I told the story to several folks, always getting a good laugh.  You have to hand it to Sid Caesar when it came to comical intimidation, I thought. 

Two years later, coming back from a party in New Jersey, I ran up to the Taxi queue on 7th Avenue in front of Penn Station.  As I opened the right passenger door, I heard a strangely familiar lilt.  “You are the one who wanted to know if I remembered how I was born!”

I couldn’t believe it; somehow I managed to hail the guy I had assaulted cab!  Look at him, I could see an apology was the last thing he was looking for, so I elected to run to another cab that had just pulled into line and offered him $20 to drive around a bit before taking me to my home.

It seems those days without a hot shower in the morning just drag on and on.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Every Friday, get 2 for 1 movie tickets when you use your Visa Signature card.

Recent Comments