I have a newfound respect for the taxicab profession. There ought to be a TV show called “Backseat Drama” about the insanity experienced when driving for a ride service.
I’ve had my fair share of crazy Halloween party-going, but yesterday night, I chose to spend Halloween as a Lyft driver, and it was hands down the most insane October 31st I’ve experienced. This was the ultimate jackpot for “A Farrago of Absurdities.”
First, a few thoughts on Halloween:
The concept behind Halloween — I’m not talking about the historical or spiritual or original intent of the day, but the commercialized, popularized form we’re used to now — is to become someone that you’re not for a night. It’s to celebrate that which society otherwise would shun — the horror, the macabre, the fringe.
Is it a testament to American consumerism, or American escapism, that Halloween has become such an enormous event?
For 364 days of the year, societal impositions regulate the outerwear of innocuous denizens just vying to fit in. We wonder what it would be like if we could not give a fuck, if we could appear however we wanted without being socially marked down for it. Halloween is that one night of year where judgement flies out the window. You can look like and be whatever you want, and no one cares. It’s all part of the “spirit.”
No wonder we love this night so much — it’s not for the candy, or the crazy parties, or the autumnally-themed products. It’s because at its core, Halloween is the only American holiday that celebrates complete liberation.
Despite a night of supposed freedom, passengers in my car displayed all the usual vagaries of human relationships (names have been changed to assure anonymity). Something about being transported from point A to point B in a cloistered space incites the emotional in folks.
Backseat Drama #1: Lovers, Friends, and Lesbians
Brent, dressed as a lumberjack, was stringing along three of his female friends to a party in West Hollywood — Jane and D were a lesbian couple, and Natalie was extremely inebriated.
For twenty minutes, the ride went something like this:
D: “Every single time we go out, you always say it’s my fault. Why are you always such a dick to me?”
Jane: “Well you’re always two hours late to everything. You made us wait.”
D: “Oh, so it’s my fault? It’s always my fault.”
Natalie: “Omygod, you guyysss. You both love each other so much … you two are so good for each other!”
Jane: “Natalie, shut up.”
Natalie: (very drunk) “I just want to help! I love you both soooo much!”
Jane: “Could you please shut your mouth for one second? This is not your business.”
Natalie: “But as your friend, this is my business!”
D: “Honestly, this is not a conversation for Lyft.” (Me: so what is a “conversation for Lyft”?)
Brent: -riding shotgun; turning up the music; speaking very loudly- SO LYNN WHAT ARE YOU DOING OUT HERE TONIGHT?!
Me: -trying to aid Brent in his efforts- “I HEARD IT WAS POPPIN’ IN LA SO I CAME OUT HERE TO WORK FOR THE NIGHT.”
Jane: “I just don’t get it, why do you always have to make everything so emotional?”
Natalie: “WHERE THE FUCK IS MY SEAT BELT?! WHY ISN’T IT WORKING?!”
Me: “I’m sorry, are you having a hard time with your seat belt back there?”
D: “Seriously, why are we even out right now? The night hasn’t even started and it’s already ruined. This is terrible.”
Natalie: “I love you all soo much! Omygod my seatbelt. I’m sitting on it!”
Jane: “This is great. This is just great.”
Brent: “HOW ABOUT WE BUMP SOME 80’S POP HUH?!” -plays “Jessie’s Girl”-
Moral of the ride: If you want the night to go well, everyone needs to get on Natalie’s level. Also, Brent, nice try, but I can still hear everything going on in the backseat. I hope it works out for Jane and D.
Backseat Drama #2: Gay couples and Paper Mache Submarines
West Hollywood last night was like LGBT pride on a random October night. There must have been a crush of about 200,000 people out there, all done up wonderfully in costume. I picked up a gay couple who had dressed up as sailors. This is fine, no one ever has qualms with the sailor costume. Except they had also built a gigantic paper mache blue submarine which they apparently stood in the whole night and for which they received vast amounts of praise and pictures.
George: “I felt like paparazzi was out there, everyone wanted pictures with us!”
Ray: “Thank GOD we found you! This was our fifth attempt trying to get a Lyft.”
No shit, you have an enormous submarine with you.
Me: “Do you want me to open the trunk?”
Ray: “No, no, I’ll just hold it in the backseat. Can you roll down your window? We’ll have the end sticking out.”
And so I did. And so I drove them home with the butt of the paper mache submarine sticking out my back window the entire time.
Moral of the ride: If you are interested in what could potentially get you pulled over on a Halloween night, it’s not speeding. It’s ridiculous costumes that are falling apart in your backseat as you inch along Melrose Ave. Also, according to George, Halloween in WeHo last night was on par with Minneapolis Pride and Toronto Pride, which were apparently the best parties of George’s life. I’m very happy for George and Ray. They walked around in a fucking paper mache submarine all night and rocked it.
Backseat Drama #3: Gossip Girl, the LA version
Having dropped off George and Ray in the WeHo area, I then picked up Sheila and her girlfriend in a Beverly Hills suburb.
Sheila: “We have one more stop to make. We’re picking up our friend Sam and then we’re going to a house party.”
Sheila and her friend were both in high school, but clearly reeked of wealth. They talked in accents stereotypical of rich, teenage kids living in nice LA suburbs.
We get to Sam’s place and Sheila calls Sam to come out.
Sheila: “Wait, Sam, what do you mean ‘we’? I thought it was just you.”
Sam comes out with another girl, whom Sheila apparently had no idea about.
Sheila: “You didn’t tell me you were coming with someone!”
Sam: “Yeah I told you over the phone.”
Sheila: “Well I couldn’t hear it.”
Naomi: (the girl no one knew was coming along) “Wait, how do you know Sam?”
Sam: “Oh Sheila and I are … uh … BAFs.”
Naomi: “What’s a BAF?”
Sam: “Best Acquaintances Forever.”
Sheila: “Yeah, I don’t even know Sam that well. We don’t even like each other.”
Me: OMG SAM AND SHEILA PLEASE STOP. CLEARLY THE BOTH OF YOU HAVE A THING WITH EACH OTHER. I CAN’T EVEN WITH YOUR UNSUBTLE SUBTLETIES.
I didn’t really get a clear view of Sheila’s costume, because she and her girlfriend piled into the backseat and she was squashed in the middle between friend and girl-she-didn’t-know-was-coming. Sam rode up front with me. Apparently Sheila was dressed up as an old grandma, or something unflattering of sorts. Naomi wasn’t wearing a costume. I kid you not, after the initial confusion of who was and was not supposed to come along, the following conversation took place. You can’t make this shit up:
Sheila: “Are you seriously wearing that to the party?”
Naomi: “What, was I supposed to be wearing a costume?”
Sheila: “I mean, yeah.”
Naomi: “I thought we were just going to a party. Why are you wearing that?” (in reference to Sheila’s grandma costume)
Sheila: “Oh every year I’m usually something sexy or attractive, so this year I thought I would do something normal.”
Sheila: “It’s a waste of my beach body though, because I definitely have one.”
This was in stark contrast to the very next ride, which was a trio of black kids from Culver City who began discussing the intricacies of the racism their families had experienced in Louisiana.
Moral of the ride: If you were wondering whether rich teens in “Gossip Girl”-esque shows were as obnoxious as they come off, I can confirm for you now: they are just as absurd as you thought they would be. But Sheila and her teen friends tipped me at the end of the night, unlike other riders I’ve done much more for, so ultimately I’m okay with them. Submoral of the story: throw money at people, and they will put up with any sort of behavior going on in their backseat.