...is the ringing of the telephone.
"Are you by your computer?" she says. "I need you to look up a phone number for me."
I point out that she is (a) 3000 miles away, (b) on vacation, and (c) must have a resource closer to hand. But then I think maybe this is like the last time she asked me for a phone number, when she wanted to "borrow" one of my P.R. contacts to ask a question for an article she was writing.
"I need a phone number for a taxi," she says.
Her voice is bubbling over with laughter, warmer than the weather where she's staying. Which is to say it is full of tropical sunshine.
I can do this. Never mind the logic -- or lack thereof -- of asking such a question of someone all the way across the continent. She wants something, I do it. Simple.
I pull up Dogpile, type in "------- taxis." A page comes up, and I scan the list. "Let me see," I say, "do you want 'The Crabby Cabbie,' 'Sunshine Taxis' or a plain ol' dumb 'Yellow Cab?'"
"No to the Crabby Cabbie," she says, laughing. "That sounds creepy."
I hoot derisively. Where's her spirit of adventure?
I give her two numbers. "Oh, give me your address, too," she says.
She's sending me something. Who knows what? I don't ask. The last card she sent remains on my desk; I read it whenever I'm down and instantly feel better.
I wish I was there, and tell her so. I know the therapeutic value of an unfamiliar paradise, and know even better the healing powers of a familiar, beautiful face and personality.
On a day when all Hell is breaking loose, she brings me a smile.
And I will tease her about "The Crabby Cabbie" for a long time, I think.
4 hours ago