It was mid-day and hot as usual in Tucson, the sun hanging there like an angry fundamentalist. Five sorority girls left their dorm building and walked down the smoldering sidewalk in flip-flops and pastel dresses: Gadabout bimbos with low-swung hips and lazy postures ambling along as if it was an almost unbearable burden to be so desirable. I was sitting in my taxi looking at them: the best America had to offer.
“Can you take us to the Standard?” squeaked one of the mall bunnies.
“Why not,” I said. The Standard was one of the many off-campus housing complexes for the wealthy college kids from California and Boston and New York. This was the University of Arizona, gathering place for megamaniacal meat.
They all wore bathing suits underneath their pastel dresses.
“Pool party at The Standard?” I said.
They looked at me like I was a pervert or an idiot, or both. I was close to 40, which meant I didn’t count.
“Oh, yea-ah, poo-el party, dude,” one of them finally said.
Once a month one of the off campus apartment buildings hosted huge, hideous swimming pool parties. Hundreds of brain dead kids packed the shimmering green pool shoulder to shoulder, each one pouring beer into his/her mouth above, and draining it out below. They were like giant petri dishes of unchecked hormones, desperate posturing and piss.
There were so many girls in the group that one of them was forced to sit in the front seat of my cab. This great distance between her and her herd made her nervous. She smelled a leopard on the air. She kept turning around. In the span of a 15 minute drive she could find herself cut off from her bitchy friends and this meant the world to her, she had no concept of survival without them. She pulled down the visor and looked at herself in the mirror. Then she pulled out a mirror from her purse and looked in that. Finally she rolled down the window and looked at herself in the side mirror outside the cab. The others complained about the hot wind that came in and messed their hairs and the girl in the front seat rolled the window up again, pouting.
Half way to The Standard we came to a place on Stone Avenue where there is a clear view of the mountains to the north.
“What are those mountains?” one of the girls said to me.
“Those are the Catalinas,” I said.
“Is Tucson higher than New York?” another girl said.
“You from New York?” I said.
A snicker scattered among them. “Well, ya-uh.”
“New York’s at sea level,” I said. “We’re at about 2200 feet here.”
Their lack of comprehension was palpable in the silence.
“Yes,” I said, “it’s higher here.”
There was a murmur of understanding.
Then another girl said: “Does that mean we weigh less?”
I searched the rear view mirror for a sign of a joke, but realized it was an honest question.
“Yes, you weigh less.”
There was a giggle of delight.
“But,” I said, “your breasts are smaller.”
They all looked down at their cleavage and one girl pawed herself protectively. Luckily we were almost there. I pulled up to the entrance of the Standard and was cut off by a young kid in a shiny new SUV that was bigger than my apartment. His beautiful untroubled face scowled at me.
The girls spilled out of the cab, eager to display their gaudy, orange plastic bodies for the eye-rape of buger-eating frat boys. They’d never had to work or worry in their lives, and most likely never would; their parents injected 3 grand into their bank account every month. They only knew one thing: comfort: the constant, immediate satisfaction of even their smallest wishes. And, honestly, they were not even very pretty. There was more beauty and soul and warmth and life in smallest finger of the poorest Mexican girl working at the tiniest market on the south side of Tucson, than these girls had between them.
The fare was 22 bucks and they each wanted to pay for their part separately. Everything else in their lives was done with one collective mind but when it came to this matter they insisted on individuality. Each of them had a 20 dollar bill and they wiped out all my change. For a second I thought I might get some of the small bills back in the form of a tip, but, no.
After I dropped them off I went into the nearest mini mart and bought a candy bar with one of the 20s, just to have some change again. The lady behind the cash register had hands like catcher’s mitts. She told me to have a nice day. I told her I’d try.