The time? Midnight. The place? 4th & Geary. Hardly a seedy neighborhood, and I'm sure public transit would have been a perfectly suitable life choice. But when a cab presented itself, I figured...why not? I've only been in this city for a week, and I would hate to be one of those tragic "she was only in the city for a week before she was _____ed by a ______!" stories. And I am nothing if not extremely cautious about my personal safety. Some say paranoid. I prefer "street smart."
The taxi driver: Russian. Extremely smiley. With a big ol' silver tooth.
"Your name...is Sonja?" He smiles at me through the rearview mirror.
"Well...way back when my family was Russian."
"You speak Russian?" Still smiling. Why isn't he looking at the road?
"I know one thing in Russian. Ya Lyublyu." [Why did I just tell my taxi driver that I love him?? Argh!] "My mom used to say it to me when I was little." [Yes Sonja, mention your mother!! That should neutralize the situation!]
"Ahhh ya lyublyu!" He grins & his tooth flashes. "Sonja. Sonja. Beautiful name. Beautiful girl. I love Sonja. Yummy yummy."
...Interesting development. I would have to say that "yummy yummy" was the turning point. It was then that I decided that everything out of my mouth would henceforth be a lie.
"Where do you go Sonja?"
"To my boyfriend's house."
"Ah. You have boyfriend."
"Yes. I do."
"You live in Presidio?"
"My boyfriend does."
"Where do you live?" [Jewish mother lesson #1: if a stranger asks you where you live...LIE.]
"The Richmond." [At least I was coming from that neighborhood....semi-plausible.]
"You have roommates?"
"A boy and a girl."
"Your boyfriend have roommates?"
"Yes he does."
And on & on. This continued for about ten minutes. In the end, he did not kidnap me and take me back to Russia with him. It felt very bizarre to lie so confidently to a total stranger. And...wait a minute, what's that faint sound that I hear carried on the breeze? Is that my mother patting herself on the back all the way in Philadelphia? That'll do, mom. That'll do.