The Gnome finds himself in Los Angeles. Not in the true southern Californian sense of spiritual enlightenment, but the rather more mundane definition of happening to be there.
Taking a taxi from the airport he found himself with a driver as locquatious as a former Trappist monk making up for lost time. A rare event, for unlike London where cabbies are renowned for a constant stream of pessimistic babble on the psychological trauma inflicted upon them by under-performing sports teams or government edicts, taxi rides in the USA are usually conducted in sullen silence. Indeed within the metropolises of America it is rare to discover a driver for whom English is even a second language, leaving the Gnome believing the famous poem on the Statue of Liberty reads:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
So they can all become cab drivers.
In this instance though the cabbie was a veritable goldmine of witty repartee and one liners. For the 30 minute drive an abstract, free-flowing stand up routine was provided. A comedic journey from the foibles of small statured Hummer-driving Asian grandmothers, passing momentarily via a diatribe on the evils of cell-phone possessing Christian evangelists, to the atavistic pleasures of late evening fares involving young, attractive, drunk women (he claimed to have spent his entire life being told where to go by the latter, but at least he was now being paid for it...)
Rising to the occasion the Gnome mentioned he had been told LA stood for 'lots of arseholes' - a point upon which the driver readily concurred. Pausing momentarily for effect, he looked through the mirror to catch the Gnome's eye and continued '...but of course assholes are like oil. Technically we are self sufficient, but we still seem to import lots.'
At the time the Gnome joined in the laughter at this riposte, but as the daylight dims over the Hollywood hills has come to the conclusion it might well have been a rather subtle insult.
If so, then the driver is to be saluted. It is not often the Gnome is caught on the wrong end of an ironic comment and he feels all the more fondness for the States and its taxi drivers because of it.