RS: and how did jewishness and cabdriving mix?
yr: well, judaism and cabdriving do not mix so well, but jewishness? yes. they say that abraham set up his tent with four openings so that people would feel welcome and i felt like a new york abraham on my flying tent hosting people.
RS: hold on i thought you were the angriest cabby in nyc
yr: at moments. but anger is just an emotion that makes all facts line up straight. with us or against us, that kind of thing. sure anger is there every night that i drive, but i don't think i could have done it so long without the surfer attitude of riding new york's wave on my surfboard/cab. certainly the predominant attitude is different from the surfer dude, and new york is not quite as pleasant or as natural as an ocean.
RS: so you were a rebbe on wheels
yr: i wouldn't go that far. people didn't feel uplifted or enchanted by their few minutes in my cab. i speed read new york. it was a personal journey much more than a giving experience.
RS: you told me that at the age of 33 you tried to become orthodox again?
yr: it's true. i think the objective was social, let me become orthodox and get married. intellectually i was curious whether the sabbath could still be a powerful source.
RS: was it?
yr: of course. it was a creative period for me anyway, but the sabbath , five, six, seven, eight sabbaths in a row. i'm not sure how many there were, but they build up a momentum and my post sabbath creativity was impressive.
RS: you sound like you're ready to head back.
yr: yeah, i know. it's tough to do at this stage. at that stage i could trick myself into believing i would keep the sabbath for the rest of my life, there was a self deception that i needed to pull it off, like pulling off a drugless streak at certain points in my life required a belief that i had quit for good. i am too rebellious these days to pull something like that off.
RS: but you didn't get married.
yr: no, but i wrote a novel the summer afterward, and the knowledge or confidence or self delusion that went into the sabbath streak paid off in the novel that i wrote.
RS: but you can't marry a novel.
yr: true. i have always viewed the married life as something to do after i could assure myself of self support and the cab lifestyle and the writing thing have never fit in to my domesticated vision.
RS: do you think that makes you weird?
yr: does that make me queer? no. but weird? yeah, i guess so. i'm in favor of the propagation of the species and the back seat fumblings and marital bed ecstasies that are at the root of the propagation of the species. so my attitude is not weird, but i wouldn't advise this lifestyle to anybody.