Thursday, July 12, 2007

I Still Remember You

- Harry Chapin

It was raining hard in 'Frisco,
I needed one more fare to make my night.
A lady up ahead waved to flag me down,
She got in at the light.
Oh, where you going to, my lady blue,
It's a shame you ruined your gown in the rain.
She just looked out the window,
and said "Sixteen Parkside Lane".
Something about her was familiar
I could swear I'd seen her face before,
But she said, "I'm sure you're mistaken"
And she didn't say anything more.
It took a while, but she looked in the mirror,
And she glanced at the license for my name.
A smile seemed to come to her slowly,
It was a sad smile, just the same.
And she said, "How are you Harry?"
I said, "How are you Sue?
Through the too many miles
And the too little smiles
I still remember you."
It was somewhere in a fairy tale,
I used to take her home in my car.
We learned about love in the back of the Dodge,
The lesson hadn't gone too far.
You see, she was gonna be an actress,
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off to find the sky.

Oh, I've got something inside me,
To drive a princess blind.
There's a wild man, wizard,He's hiding in me,
illuminating my mind.
Oh, I've got something inside me,
Not what my life's about,
Cause I've been letting my outside tide me,
Over 'till my time, runs out.
Baby's so high that she's skying,
Yes she's flying, afraid to fall.
I'll tell you why baby's crying,
Cause she's dying, aren't we all.

There was not much more for us to talk about,
Whatever we had once was gone.
So I turned my cab into the driveway,
Past the gate and the fine trimmed lawns.
And she said "we must get together,"
But I knew it'd never be arranged.
And she handed me twenty dollars,
For a two fifty fare,
she said "Harry, keep the change."
Well another man might have been angry,
And another man might have been hurt,
But another man never would have let her go
...I stashed the bill in my shirt.
And she walked away in silence,
It's strange, how you never know,
But we'd both gotten what we'd asked for,
Such a long, long time ago.
You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off for the sky.
And here, she's acting happy,
Inside her handsome home.
And me, I'm flying in my taxi,
Taking tips, and getting stoned,

I go flying so high, when I'm stoned.

Certain songs evoke memories in us. Where were you? What were you doing? Who were you with?

For me, one such song is Taxi by the late Harry Chapin. (The complete lyrics are in the column at the left.)

I never had any aspirations of being a pilot and though she was lovely enough, I don't think she had her mind set on an acting career. Nonetheless the song gave us both pause to reminisce whenever we would hear it.

I have heard the song countless times over the years; occasionally I drag out the CD just to hear the song. I'd always wondered if the song brought back memories for her. Alas, time moves ahead and so do we.

Sometimes fate tickles time a bit and in doing so, teases us. A few days ago as I was trudging up and down the aisles of a busy supermarket, the song began playing over the store's PA system. I began to sing along: "I needed one more fare to make my night..."

I rounded the corner into the next aisle and ran head long into a cart coming the other way. Twenty years may have passed, but when our eyes met it could've been only a week.

She too had been singing along,"...And she said, 'How are you Mikey?" I picked up on my cue, " I said, 'How are you Sue? Through the too many miles, and the too little smiles, I still remember you.' " There followed an awkward hug and the obligatory pecks on the other's cheek.

(Her name really is Sue, as in the song. She always changed "Harry" to Mikey. )

What is it about redheads, anyway? Time had been kind to her - she was as lovely, as shapely and as sexily alluring as she had been two decades before. I told her so.
(For a visual reference, to me she resembled Heather Locklear, but with fiery red hair.)

We checked out together, got some coffee and sat for a spell on a bench outside the store. Both of us had places to go, but we crammed a lot of "catching-up" into an all too brief half hour. When we first met I was married then, and this day I learned she was now married and the mother of two boys.

She dug around in her purse and produced a folded piece of yellowed paper. When I asked what it was, she asked if I remembered some lyrics that I had once written for her and her sister. I had forgotten that she and her sister used to sing Country & Western songs in a few small bars and clubs.

She surprised me when she said that they had "recorded" it! They had cut it at one of those kiosks in a mall. They'd sold about a hundred copies of it at the places where they performed. She wrote her address onto the back of the paper and said she'd try to find a copy and if I wrote her she'd send a disc to me.

All good things must end, and so it was that we had to part company. Funny, how things kept mirroring the lyrics of the song. She said, "We must get together." The next line of the song popped into my head .."But I knew it would never be arranged."

"...I stashed the bill (lyrics) in my shirt, and she walked away in silence."

A little later still on the parking lot with the engine running, I pulled the folded paper from my shirt pocket. I only vaguely remembered the words, so I began reading them, struggling not to apply the tune of "Taxi" to them:

To Whom It May Concern

"I've got a love letter I just gotta write,
To someone who's lonely just like me tonight.
She's sitting there at home all alone,
Listening for the ever silent telephone;
She's staring, a tear in her eye, at the door
Through which her lover comes calling no more.
Mr. Mailman please send this right away;
Don't know her address, don't know her zone;
But she's waiting for this letter I know
So Mr. Mailman send it to anywhere, USA
To someone who's lonely just like me and might yearn
To read a love letter addressed 'To whom it may concern."

I turned the page over to look at the address she'd written down. I felt a flush to my cheeks as I read a P.S. below the address: "I named my second boy Michael." - Your taxi girl, Sue.

What is it about redheads, anyway?

What's the connection? What about the taxi? What are you missing? Well, that's a story for another day. That's a story best reserved for another post. I'm trying to sort out the facts of twenty years ago - so long ago. I promise it will be posted very soon.

~~~~~The "Taxi Story," as promised is continued here.~~~~~

(If you read this and want to make sure you read the rest of the story, please make it a point to comment. Everyone who comments will be notified either by your e-mail or as a comment on your most recent post at that time.)



Peter said...

Wow, thats a story and then some Mike, I've always loved Harry Chapin and Taxi is one of his best, but I don't have a story to go with it.

Shannon akaMonty said...

I don't have a story to go with it either...but Harry Chapin always tells wonderful stories with his music.

*goes to dye hair red*

Jack K. said...

You do tell a wonderful story.