The lovely Saturday evening had been going splendidly until Claudette laughed just a bit too hard and the cauliflower casserole from dinner backfired unexpectedly. Her bloomers billowed, the conversation ceased, the cab driver discreetly rolled down a window before they all perished, and the possibility of a second date suddenly skittered onto perilous ice.
Claudette, obviously, was not pleased with this development, and she tentatively eased her way into a desperate mode of damage control. “I’m not sure what to say at this point.”
Clark: “Well, your ass didn’t have any problem finding the words. I can still hear them now.”
Claudette’s mortification eased slightly, tempered by budding discontent with her date. “It’s not as if I did it on purpose, carefully-selecting the highest-fiber items on the menu at the restaurant just to powder the cannon. There’s no reason to be rude about things.”
Clark: “I’m not being rude. My ass hasn’t said a peep, although there was a brief moment when I thought it might have something to share when we hit that pothole back on Fifth Avenue.
Claudette, discontent now winning: “I don’t think you’re being very considerate of my delicate condition. Perhaps we should cut this evening short so you won’t be in danger of further changes in atmospheric pressure.” She leaned forward. “Oh, driver?”
Driver apparently did not have an official response prepared, and he said nothing.
Clark: “Perhaps he’s suffering from PTSD. Give him a few minutes to recover.”
Claudette: “Driver? We’ve had a change in plans and we won’t be going to the 21 Club.” She leaned forward and tapped Driver on the shoulder. “Did you hear me?”
Driver had a response this time, in that his head slumped forward and then stayed there. Perhaps it was a moment of sudden prayerful devotion, what with the startling climate change of this experience hinting at an apocalypse, but it did not appear that Judy Garland would soon be singing a perky song on the soundtrack.
Clark: “It’s worse than I thought. You’ve killed him with your ass. Are you happy now?”
Claudette jerked her hand away from Maybe-Dead Driver, apparently not having learned that sudden movement on her part was ill-advised at this point, considering the repeating cauliflower. “Would you stop saying the word ‘ass’?” I get it. You are not impressed with mine. Frankly, I’m not impressed with yours, for a different reason. So stop being one and help me figure out what to do now.”
Claudette clenched, because the cauliflower was hinting at an encore, damn it all.
Driver continued to not do anything.
Clark, finally, had a moment of brilliant observation. “Say, this cab is no longer moving, just like Driver.”
Claudette, sweating because of the clenching: “What are you saying? What does this mean?”
Clark: “It means that we can just get out and walk away. And I won’t have to pay the cab fare. I think everybody wins.”
Claudette, nearly hyperventilating with the extreme muscle control: “But what about Driver? We can’t just leave him here.”
Clark: “Oh, now you’re concerned about Driver? You certainly didn’t have his interests in mind with your Chernobyl incident. I don’t think anybody will be able to use this cab for fifty years due to all the radiation.”
Suddenly, Driver’s head popped up.
Claudette crop-dusted once more.
Clark screamed, in a manly way, according to his publicist the next day.
Driver: “Live from New York, it’s Saturday night!”
Claudette, waving away the fog: “Are you kidding me? This was just the opener for a TV show?”
Clark: “What kind of crazy producer would approve of this?”
Lorne Michaels, Saturday Night Live creator, walking past the non-moving cab and chomping on a street-vendor hot dog, extra onions: “Hey, if the ratings get low, you have to get low with the writing.”
The Writer: “Thanks, Lorne. Happy to help. Now, can I meet Tina Fey like you promised?”
Lorne: “You know the rules. You don’t get to meet Tina until you’ve hosted the show at least five times.”
Claudette: “I feel so violated.”
The Writer: “Me too. So dirty.”
The Seat Cushion: “Both of you have nothing on me.”
Clark: “So do I have to pay the cab fare or not?”
Categories: Past Imperfect