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How To Train Your Dragon

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Written by Matt   
Tuesday, 04 May 2010 19:21

I’m not sure if it was always this way, there but for as long as I can remember, whenever my car breaks down in Panama I meet a hilarious taxi driver who becomes, if not a lifelong friend, then certainly a close acquaintance. It was scorching hot out yesterday when I entered one of those extremely small cabs in the banking district driven by a guy named Jorge.

Because I admire anyone who dries their pants under the hood of a moving service vehicle, Jorge and I discussed a bunch of things.


“George,” he translated for me thinking, I suppose, that I never took second grade Spanish or went to a Mexican restaurant in my life.

I modified it to “Georgie,” about which he scoffed at. He said sounded “weird” and “ugly.”

Just after we turned onto Avenida Balboa, Jorge pulled a Styrofoam tray out from the back seat and placed it on the dashboard. “This is how I keep my food hot,” he said and I acted surprised because it actually made a lot of sense.

“If you can’t believe that,” he added, “I bet you would never guess where I dry my pants when they are wet. Can't guess? I didn't think so. The motor!”

To put Jorge’s creativity in perspective, I thought of an episode of MacGyver where Richard Dean Anderson crafts a gun out of a discarded ear of corn. To be Jorge is to look at a heap of trash for a moment and ask if anyone needs a weapon.  

“In fact,” he said proudly, “I got a pair in there right now.”

Because I admire anyone who dries their pants under the hood of a moving service vehicle, Jorge and I discussed a bunch of things. His liquor of choice (Seco Herrerano), his exponential siblings (twelve), as well as the harem of women he told me he rotates through on a regular basis.

“I call my Chinese one,” he said, “then my black one, then my one that looks like Beyonce.”

I asked him if he liked “mujeres choobies,” which is a word I recently acquired on the streets of Casco Viejo. It is the cognate of “chubby.”

Jorge then said “as a gringo, you speak clearly,” without ever answering the question. 

Jorge dropped me off on the street in El Cangrejo and after we said our goodbyes, a guy selling bootleg DVDs approached and asked where I work. When I said that was irrelevant to my bootleg DVD purchase, he announced, with all the authority of a psychic, “you…you work in a bank.”

Many of the people around us were pouring over his bootleg collection, but, as a banker I had to identify myself as a virtuoso. “That’s like a very, big expert,” I told the street vendor. And because I was such a prodigal being, I decided to purchase a movie called How to Train Your Dragon, which, I had heard, is one of the first movies with Gerrard Butler that doesn’t suck. The movie turned out to be just OK. Still though, it taught me a valuable lesson: calling yourself a virtuoso is almost always a sure sign you’re not one.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 May 2010 19:30

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