Most people will have heard of adrenaline, serotonins and endorphins. Hormonal chemicals which provoke specific cognitive and emotional responses from the human brain. But there is another hormone unique to the Irish population – it is secreted only at night and only while in cabs – it’s called Intaxiphin.
A small amount of intaxiphin secreted in your cerebral cortex will allow you to feign polite interest in everything a taxi driver is saying. A larger amount of intaxiphin – such as comes with that rush of gratitude you feel when the taxi actually stops for you at 3 AM on Rathmines Road – will have you sharing all the cab drivers personal prejudices.
Combined with alcohol, Intaxiphin induces a kind of faculty-dimming euphoria – this is why, when the taxi-driver gives you his unsolicited opinion on migrants, travellers, and the yute-of-today, you’ll find yourself in full agreement with him on all of the above. And it’s all because of your heightened Intaxiphin levels.
You may have left the house all set for a night on the town, a few jars – a contemporary, tolerant Dublin liberal out for a few scoops with the lads or ladettes – but on the way home that excess of Intaxiphin ensures you become a back seat, fare-paying xenophobe.
Not that all taxi drivers are opinionated, public-transporters with a penchant for the re-introduction of capital punishment, the military conscription of hoodie-wearers and the forced deportation of anyone who might have lingered too long in a tanning salon – far from it. I have friends who, when their surface is scratched or when their liver has been sufficiently marinated, reveal very similar sentiments.
But even before you will have inserted yourself into the cab, Intaxiphin will have already begun its work on you, lowering all sense of intellectual and even gustatory inhibition, causing you lower your tolerance for fascism while initiating a search for battered sausage and deep-fried onion rings.
Like a heat-seeking missile, you will detect molecules of boiling vegetable oils and hot fatty pork being borne on the night wind. You sniff the air – target acquired – guidance system engaged – and whoosh, there you are at a formica counter in Camden Street, salivating as some dour, minimum-wage-and-hating-it, teenager selects a pallid doughy log, drops it into a vat of searing oil and minutes later it emerges – a miracle transformation from wrinkled, phallic-shaped obscenity to a crispy golden rod of aorta-clogging death. Mmmhh! Delicious!
Is this the resounding endorsement from the posturing gourmet who, just only last Wednesday night in The Bangkok Kitchen, sighed and said: “The Nam Plak Min was exquisite, but do I wish they’d used authentic Thai basil instead of the local stuff – the taste of anise is more robust”. Under the influence of hormonal Intaxiphin, the critic of the basil has become the critic of the batter.
Lips glossed in cooking-oil, fingers scented with vinegar, veins thickening with cholesterol – you wave at a passing taxi and, oh my God! It’s stopping – and it’s stopping for you and not the two gorgeous young girls at the corner. Euphoria! You settle into the back seat. You are driven through the main streets of Ranelagh, Rathgar, Terenure – you see their fast-food neons flash by in a nauseous blur.
Maybe that battered sausage wasn’t such a good idea.
But the cab driver has some great ideas. And you are in complete agreement with them all. You are in full accord with his unsolicited opinions on the banking crisis and the issue of gay marriages. And, if the over-priced trip were to take you any further than Rathfarnham, he would have had the time to convince you that the country would be best run by a junta of his fellow taxi-drivers.
And it’s all thanks to Intaxiphin that your journey home was not merely a Joycean night-town trek from Toner’s to your front door – it was a journey from gourmet to gobshite, from liberal to hypocrite and from a Friday-night buzz to Saturday morning amnesia when all is forgotten and thus forgiven.
Booze. Our Celtic predisposition to its mind-dimming lure. Booze. Our softened tolerance for its absolving chemistry. It is, after all, nothing more than a combination of molecules exuded by yeast, a semi-alive organism that eats sugar and excretes alcohol.
Your inebriated state of mind is a result of yeast shite.
But do you care? No. It’s so liberating. It’s the social lubricant that allows the shy to converse volubly – the reticent to assert themselves, and the inhibited to release their insulated personalities. Why was it invented? In the evolutionary thrust from prehistoric nomad to settled farmer what purpose was assigned to alcohol?
Release. Pure release.
All the strictures of behaviour, from Cro Magnon to modern urbanite, become unbound by alcohol’s transit from first swallow to stupefying absolution. A sober man will clench a fart in place while in the presence of polite company. Under the influence of yeast-excrement he will release an uninhibited trumpet of emissions and not even deign to apologise. Women will vomit into handbags, uncaring of the damage to mascara, moisturiser or paper-money. The adult male will vow “never again”; the adult female will promise, “This is the last time I’ll let myself go so far…”
But booze has been with us since we first dragged our hairy knuckles off the grit of the African scrubland four million years ago. From our destiny as upright- Homo Sapiens – booze, liquor, hooch, jar, dram and pint have been our solace and our succour when things went wrong at the office and when we men failed to bring home the kill.
Whiskey. Wine. Ale. Port. They are the greatest sources of flawed inner-forgiveness. Masculine failure is erased in their vapours. Feminine indiscretion is forgiven in their fumes. Ego Te Absolvo. It should be written on the label of every bottle of Jameson, Smirnoff and Chateaux Unconchio. Your are not responsible, you are absolved – you may apportion complete blame to the grape, the hop, the malt and that exotic schnapps that was cheered down your throat by your mates as you left Neary’s on Friday night at about one AM.
Thank God you got a taxi.