Small Town Gay in the City

My Uber driver is lost, or maybe it’s me 
who’s lost. After all, I’m the one who forgot I left my car 
sitting outside my straight friend’s house before
we got drunk on K Road last Friday. 
Amidst needles of neon light and Dua Lipa remixes 
she somehow pulled, but I didn’t and dancing on your own
is much more prosaic than Robyn makes it sound
so I called an Uber home and while sitting
on the leather backseat in a cloud of new car smell
I ordered UberEats–

           What a twenty-first-century choice! How meta!
           I mean, if anything screams MIDDLE-CLASS MILLENNIAL
           it’s the auspicious timing of one’s next drunken meal delivery!–

The Uber driver left the wrong bag of Macca’s at my door
but turns out I got 
two big macs, two fries, two cokes, and two nuggets,
and while I ate it all– and I mean all
I imagined two love-drunk heterosexuals
eagerly anticipating their late-night feast opening my 
single cheeseburger and small fry
and I bet they were so devastated
they couldn’t even bring themselves
to have sloppy unprotected sex.
It made me smile that this one minor disappointment 
would likely cause great chaos,
as most first-world problems do. 
It was a hell of a start to a two-day hangover
until I forgot my car
and was late to work today
and realized how much of my paycheck
goes to the oligarchs who own this godforsaken company. 

I message my Uber driver:
           I am waiting on the side of Manukau Rd in a rust-colored coat.

I think:
           There is something romantic about calling my coat rust.
           There’s no way he’ll miss me now!

The driver calls–
He is waiting down the road with his hazards on.
Turns out, I’m the one who’s lost.
Turns out, I completely missed him. 
I cross the slippery road,
leap-frog from one oil-soaked puddle to another
while city traffic walks on stilts around me.
When I open the door to his Honda Civic
he says the same thing all Uber drivers say:
I say:
as if my own name is a question.
Then I sit in the back like I always do
looking at my phone to avoid small talk
but really I’m holding in questions about
this man’s kids
his wife
the prayer beads swaying from his rear view mirror,
and how meditative it must be to drive around in this traffic 
everyone so loves to complain about—
it’s Tāmaki Makaurau’s favorite topic besides
housing prices and weather
but I’d rather talk about nothing at all. 

When he pulls over to the side of Maungakiekie Ave
I say thank you and he says thank you back
as if I did him the favor.
While I gather my belongings
I make up a montage in my mind of his day-to-day drives:
another placid passenger,
another overpriced tank of petrol, 
another DJ overplaying Ed Sheeran on the radio,
another Tetris turn on a slick overcrowded road;
and it reminds me that 
everyone in this city is just trying to connect, 
but it sure is hard for us, isn’t it?

As I shut the door, I wonder why I always tell my Uber drivers

           I’ll see you later

when I know I never will.

Featured photo courtesy of author.


In a dream, you saw a way to survive, and you were filled with joy.


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