I was even thinking when I was in the taxi this very morning that all of this crazy shit was behind me now. Taxi-drivers have become normal. (Up to a point. They still can't understand Australian.)
I haven't had a nervous jumpy guy for ages now. No accelerator pumpers and clutch riders, no twitchers and shruggers, no wheel swingers or greasy-hair brushers, no gear-stick must-touchers or steering-wheel strokers*. It's been good.
OK the guy who brought us back from the airport last night was singing under his breath, but it was "Hooked On A Feeling."
Understandable; and much more forgiveable that the four of us who couldn't get Goyte out of our heads - because AirAsia had been using "Somebody That I Used To Know" on heavy rotation while we were taxiing and sitting at the gate. Swear to god...
[Somebody... (used to know)... Somebody...]
You know what happens just after I was congratulating myself on having successfully used this blog to shame taxi companies into screening their drivers for Tourrette's syndrome, something I have been lobbying heavily for since I got here, holy shit, eight and a half years ago? You know, don't you?
I notice that the driver, about 45 or so, not really an uncle to me, keeps placing the tip of his left thumb gently against the back of the wing of his not insubstantially prominent left ear. That's twice now. He rubs it softly, tenderly. He is holding his hand lightly clenched and his elbow out, almost as if he were answering an imaginary phone call.
He does it again, maybe three minutes later. Now he is using the cleft between his index and middle finger knuckles to caress (there is no other word for it) his delicate and shell-like. He gently folds forward that elephantine auricle and lets it flip back - where the curve of the cup at the rear of the cartilage had been convex, outward, it went concave, popping inward while he does this, then, when he lets it go, it pops back - is there a sound only he could hear? Ffp... Pph...
This is in slow motion. I swear.
Then, I think he has caught me looking. I think he is aware I am watching him out of the corner of my eye. I can sense a slight tenseness in his head movement. He is trying to bring himself under control; he is self-conscious, but he can't stop himself, and he does it again.
It's the elbow sticking out that gets me; so obvious, but casual and therefore unremarkable. He may have done this once or twice before I did indeed notice.
I am typing a draft of this report into my phone for the rest of the ride so I have made myself look busy and distracted - relaxed, he does it three more times. Like I said, it was a caress, a slow sensual massage.