Thursday, December 4, 2008

Grandpa Vern and the olfactory bliss of yellow cab.

My Grandpa Vern was a wonderful character. He loved golf, manhattans, and cashews. I know he loved golf and manhattans because he and my father got along like old college roommates. I also know he loved cashews because he would eat a handful of them and kiss my cheeks while he chewed. mmm the sweet smell of cashews and nut-dust on my cheeks. 
(There's gotta be another way to say that.)
He had a love for cardigans, much like myself. I think he may have owned every Lacoste cardigan sold in the last 60 years. He was a storyteller--another way I take after him. We both like to tell stories that are all about the means, as opposed to the end. A lengthy re-enactment of something so funny you almost had to be there to understand the hilarity of it all. 
My Grandma, a sweet/fragile/white-haired/religious fashionista was the center of his universe, and he, was hers. Her beef stroganoff recipe took more than a few hours to make, and she insisted that everyone enjoy helpings that nearly spilled over the fancy classic-blue glass plates. She would take a small portion for herself-she never felt the need to stuff her small frame-and listen intently to my Grandpa's stories with her hands folded delicately on her lap  and a smile on her face that made you wonder what it would be like to be completely and utterly smitten for nearly 50 years. Maybe it was the side-by-side twin beds they slept in for the whole of their marriage; or maybe she knew someday he would see her face and not know he ever loved her.
Their "a-frame" Tennessee home always reminded me of snakeskin and chocolates. Chocolates, because my Grandma let me have them for breakfast (we both have a violent sweet-tooth) and snake skins, because I found so many in their mountainous landscaping that I was scared to leave the driveway. 
How does this post have a thing to do with the "olfactory bliss of yellow cab", you ask?
I began that lengthy description so as to help you imagine the smell of my Grandpa Vern's cologne--and somehow ended up with more lines than originally intended. Anyway, my Grandpa probably smelled as stout-or brut, perhaps- as any other elderly man. A refined, spicy-lavender smell of Lacoste cardigans and skillfully gelled and combed hair. It always reminded me of a fierce campfire, not that they ever bore any such connection that I remember.
It's the same smell that overwhelms  me every time I close a cab door. It reminds me so much of my Grandpa that if I knew the history of the air in that particular cab I would surely take a giant whiff to remind me of him and his cashew breath. 
Unfortunately, this public, brut smell instantly gives the cab driver undeniable power. He drops the meter, and maybe hits the "fuel charge" button an extra time. Will I question him? Absolutely not. That would almost be like questioning my Grandpa (which is something that just didn't happen). Even worse, it would be like questioning my dead grandpa. So what do I do in this situation? Pay the extra $2.50? Well, you're damn right I do. How dare I question this man that wears such a refined cologne. It may sound a bit too passive to you- but it makes me laugh- and I politely let the driver know that if it is easier to pull over here I can walk the rest of the way, thank him for the smooth ride and wish him a wonderful day because he has surely made mine a bit better.

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