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Brake 

"My mom's favorite was Bonnie Raitt."

"She's cool, your mom."

The three young women in the back of my cab were chatting about the musical preferences of their respective parents. Sitting shotgun next to me was a tall good-looking guy, with short, curly black hair and a rangy, athletic build. The two of us were listening to the conversation among the women, smiling at each other at the funny parts.

"I remember once - I must have been, like, ten - a Phil Collins song came on the radio. I turned to my mom and said, 'What's this?' She says, 'That's Phil Collins.' I'm, like, 'No, mom - I mean, like, what kind of music is it?' 'OK, I see,' she says. 'Sweetie, it's soft-rock.' And, I'm, like, Ooh - I like soft-rock.'"

Everyone laughed at the sweet story. This is a nice group of people, I thought as we headed to the Riverwatch Apartments. So many people, young and old, are so bitter and angry these days about, well, everything. This group of friends had a relaxed camaraderie which was a pleasure to experience, even just as a cabdriver for a short hop down the road.

The woman sitting by the passenger side window reached forward and gave my seatmate a rub on this shoulder. She was Asian and wearing one of those puffy white coats so popular among the girls this winter. (I'm sure there's a better name for the garment than "puffy white coat," but there you go.) The hood was lined with soft gray-and-white-streaked fur that circled her face and she looked utterly adorable. She said, "Blake, are you ready for the party with my folks tomorrow?"

"You bet, honey," Blake replied. "I love hanging out with your parents. They're a trip."

"Well, they love you. It's so funny, though, my mom keeps calling you 'Brake.'"

"Yeah, that's great. And your dad, what does he call me - 'Flake?'"

"I gotta talk to that guy. I mean - he's not even trying! Don't take it personally. I know he likes you."

"Hey, you," Blake said and pivoted in his seat to exchange a moment of love through the eyes with his girlfriend. "They can call me anything they like." The two lovers smiled at each other in a way that lit up the whole vehicle. "Anything," he repeated.

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About The Author

Jernigan Pontiac

Jernigan Pontiac

Bio:
Jernigan Pontiac was a Burlington cab driver whose biweekly "Hackie" column appeared in Seven Days 2000-20. He has published two book-length collections, Hackie: Cab Driving and Life, and Hackie 2: Perfect Autumn.

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