An exclusive interview with the New York cabbie who drove them around!
EW YORK CITY. The Big Apple, teeming with life. And lots and lots of taxi cabs. Someone has to drive those cabs. We call those people cabbies. And when a veteran cabbie like Joe Mischotti picks up a fare, that fare might be someone pretty darned famous. Because we're in New York, where your chances of running into a famous person are statistically higher than if you were in, say, Indianapolis. This is not to knock Indianapolis. It's just a cold, hard fact.
And it's my job to take lots of cab rides in New York City until I run across a hot story. One which comes along only once or twice a week, if you take lots of cab rides. Because I'm a reporter for Happy Woman, and that's my job, dammit.
It's an overcast Tuesday morning, and I'm sitting in the back of a cab in midtown Manhattan. I look at the name above the mug shot on the cabbie id card: Joe Mischotti.
So I say, "Hey, Joe, how's it going?"
And Joe says, "Can't complain. Where to, lady?"
And I say, "Just take me around Manhattan Joe, while I pick your brain."
And Joe says, "Whattaya mean, pick my brain, lady?"
And I say, "Joe, I'm just a reporter, looking for a scoop. Got any good dirt on some famous fares you've had lately?"
And Joe says, "Well, come to think of it, maybe I do."
And I say, "So, lay it on me, Joe."
And Joe says, "How 'bout Jennifer and Vince. That good enough for you, lady reporter?"
And I say, "IS it, Joe! Lay it on me, and I mean yesterday!"
Right then and there, Joe the cabbie tells me how last Thursday night, or was it Wednesdayanyhow, one night last week around 10:00 he pulls over on 5th and East 96th, the Upper East SidePoshvilleand a man and a woman slide into the back seat.
Joe doesn't notice anything special at firsthe's not looking at his fares too closely when the man asks Joe to head for the Village. Greenwich Village. Joe says, "Sure thing."
"Then," Joe tells me, "the couple starts talkin' to each other and I look in my rearview. Damn if it ain't that Friends lady, Jennifer Aniston, and that tall comedian guy, Vince Vaughn. They look just like they do on T.V. She's got that long, shiny hair, and he's tall even sitting down, and he looks kinda like he could get into a fight if you push him."
I say, "Did you push him, Joe?"
And Joe says, "Naw, I got no gripe with the tall guy. As long as he pays his fare and tips good, with his money and all.""Tell me everything, Joe."
"Sure," says Joe. "So the two of them start talkin' about goin' maybe to a movie. And I hear Jennifer say somethin' about wanting to see the Leonard Cohen movie. You know, that movie about the folk singer?"
"Yeah," I say, "the folk singer, Leonard Cohen. No slouch."
"Nope," says Joe. "No slouch at all. So I hear Vince say to Jennifer, 'Are you sure you wanna go to that one? You're not big on folk music,' or somethin' like that, he says. And Jennifer says, 'I like it fine. I want to see Leonard Cohen. It's supposed to be good.'"
"So Vince says to me, directly, 'Could you find us the Film Forum?' And I says, 'Sure, buddy, the Film Forum on Houston. No problem.'"
I say to Joe, "So, you took them to the Film Forum, Joe? To see the Leonard Cohen flick?"
Joe says, "Well, that's what I thought I was doin', but then Jennifer says to Vince, 'Maybe we should eat something first,' and Vince says, 'We just ate, what're you wanting to eat again for'? and Jennifer says, 'Because I'm still hungry.' And Vince Vaughn, he just gives her that look, cause I'm watchin' in the rear view, and he says, 'Aw, you're always hungry' or something like that."
"Wow," I say, "she's really got an appetite on her, huh Joe?"
And Joe says, "Yeah, I guess. But then they start talkin' about the movie again, and she says, 'Maybe they have popcorn at the Forum.' And Vince says, 'Yeah, probably. You just want popcorn?' And she says, 'Yeah.'"
"What else, Joe. There's got to be something else you can give me," I say. "My readers expect no less."
Joe says, "Yeah, well, there's not much else before I dropped 'em off at the Forum. Except Jennifer thought she might be cold or somethin' during the movie."
"Joe, are you saying the woman didn't have a sweater on her?" I say.
"Well, I dunno, maybe, yeah, I don't remember a sweater," says Joe.
"So maybe they weren't planning on going to the movies?" I say.
"Hell, I dunno. All I know is, I dropped 'em off at the Forum and they went right up to the ticket booth, cause I think the movie already started."
I say, "Joe, maybe they were trying to get away from something. Or somebody. A girl never goes to the movies unless she's got a sweater. It can get pretty cold in those movie houses, you know."
"Okay," says Joe.
"Was anybody following you, Joe?"
"Following me? No, I mean, I don't think so."
"So you're not sure, Joe?"
"Uh, no, I guess not. Say, lady, can I drop you off somewhere?"
I say, "Yeah, Joe, I think I've got what I need. Drop me off right here."
Joe's almost driving away from the curb when I suddenly remember something big. Really big.
"Hey, Joe!" I shout. "How'd he tip?"
"How'd he tip? Oh, Vince Vaughn? Not bad. A twenty spot over the fare."
Yep. A cold, hungry startlet and her big lug who tips okay, but not great, running to a Village movie house for cover. It doesn't get much juicier than that.
But don't thank me. It's my job, dammit.
© 2006 Kate Heidel