The Cab Driver/The Persistence of Cancer

I went to T's house to watch the veep debates. This was my first visit to her house, the first time I'd done anything social with her. She's in my yoga class and we've talked politics before. Beforehand I went downtown to hear Bernard Henri-Levy, but I got the time wrong and missed the event.

What can I say about the debates that you haven't heard already? I thought Palin's sentences didn't track. She comes from the Daley school of diction. We showed the white flag of surrender at Iraq: I hope that absurd phrase will dog her for the next month.

I took a cab home. It was driven by a white-haired man with black eyebrows and an accent. He thought the US should adopt the British system whereby the leader could be made to step down after a no-confidence vote, instead of being allowed to serve for four years automatically. He asked where my family was from. I said my grandparents were from Eastern Europe. He asked where. I told him: Lithuania, Moldova and Russia. Oh, he said, Aren't you Jewish? I said yes. He said, Why aren't you observing Rosh Hashanah? I told him that the holiday ended last night. I felt then I had the right to ask him where he was from. He said his father was Irish, his mother was Chinese-Jewish and he was Turkish. Was he kidding? He said the average American doesn't care about anything except getting a drink and finding a loose woman. He also said some poll showed that 62 percent of Americans are involved in homosexuality and alcoholism. I think that's what he said. He kept talking and was parked on my street and I saw the meter go up 10 cents, 15 cents, 25, 50. Enough was enough and I got out of the cab.

I've always thought that the people with the most developed senses of Jew-dar are Jews and anti-Semites. I wonder which he was.

A woman at T's asked how we knew each other or got to talking about politics at yoga. I couldn't remember. T said we started talking about the war when I had my head shaved with US out of Iraq. I explained to the other woman that I had been bald because of chemo. Of course that brings us to breast cancer and hair growing back. She was quite excited about my hair and said it was great and looked so healthy. The hair always seems to be the bellwether, because it's so THERE. Maybe it does reflect inner health. For me and my sister, our thick curly hair has always been indicative of our genetic makeup: We come from a family with thick curly hair. Then a man who was there asked what I was working on. What should I say? I wondered. Should I mention my book? I'm through working on it, except for proof sheets that will be coming my way next month, and my marketing report, that I have to finish. I told him I was writing a review-essay about cancer books and humor. Can't get away from that Cancer. It's here. It's there. It's everywhere. It came to rest and was removed but still hovers.