Like a lot of guys our age, every Tuesday my friend Terry and I have breakfast at different restaurants. Since we’re both cabdrivers we talk all the time on the job. But our Tuesday breakfasts are a way of taking time out to talk about other, more important things than business.
I’ve told you about Terry before (HERE). He’s deeply spiritual, and he lets his unwavering faith guide his life. He’s actually something of an inspiration to me; I worry about stuff a lot more than he does. But rather than trying to micromanage things, Terry just goes with the flow, confident in the knowledge that God will provide. And in Terry’s experience, He always does.
Listening to Terry speak, it’s hard to argue the point. We talk about faith a lot, what it means to us in our daily lives, and how we can be better Christians. We’ve both been the happy recipient of what some people might call “luck” but we call Divine Intervention. And no, before you ask, neither one of us is rich, at least not money-wise. Nor is that a goal for either of us.
Terry has already published a book of poetry, and he’s finishing up what he hopes will be his first novel. So we talk about writing a lot too. It’s interesting to see how we approach the subject. Terry writes like an artist’s paints: delicately and carefully choosing just the right word or phrase to set and color the scene. I pound the keys into submission like an engineer cranking out a tech manual. In the end, we both get our stories out.
Since he lived in New Orleans for a long time, much of Terry’s novel takes place there. He is enamored of the rich culture and the history of the city. Personally, I never liked “NOLA” all that much. It was always just a seedy, industrial place I had to pass through on my way to and from the coastal helicopter bases at which I worked. I hung out in the French Quarter a bit, but wasn’t all that impressed. Remember, I grew up in New York City in the 1960s and ‘70s, before Times Square got cleaned up and Disney-ized. So I’m not sold on all that Creole voodoo mumbo-jumbo.
Getting back to our different approaches to writing, I cracked about New Orleans, “You’ve got to love a city that has a college named Tulane University.” I pronounced it with the accent on the first syllable. Terry looked at me blankly, not getting my (apparently) bad joke.
“It’s a play on words,” I explained. “Tulane University…Two-Lane University?” When you have to explain a joke it is not a joke anymore.
“I thought it was of French origin,” he said, still not getting it, “like Toulouse Street in the French Quarter.”
For him the name evoked certain imagery while I merely heard it phonetically. It's French?
In fact, in 1884 Tulane University was named after a wealthy New Orleans businessman and philanthropist, Paul Tulane who was the son of French immigrant parents. But who knows? Maybe Paul’s father was born on a two-lane road in France, hence the surname. More mundane things have been known to happen.
And such are the things that old cabdrivers talk about when we’re not behind the wheel.