Parking Trauma

by

05/31/2006

50 W 77th St New York, NY 10024

Neighborhood: Upper West Side

The flat palm of my hand slammed into the steering wheel again and again.

“Fuck me, fuck me, fuck ME!” Yes, I was being vulgar — and a bad driver — but it had taken more like five or six hour to get from Washington, D.C. to New York, and now it was going to take another hour before we could find a place to park.

I was hungry.

My friend — a former politico, just like myself — had successfully transitioned from D.C. to the Kennedy School in Boston to the financial world of New York. What a hero. We weren’t in town to see him, necessarily, though. Eugénie had a sick relative we were visiting. Meeting Christian for dinner at his fancy-pants place in the “Upper West Side” (whatever) was a welcome distraction from that.

I am not from New York.

Now it was Eugénie’s turn to get vulgar, as we drove down the same goddam street we’d gone down not ten minutes prior.

“Just find a fucking place to park,” she scowled. She’s a good scowler, my wife.

“I’m starving,” she added. “Me too. Hell.” I chimed in. Any opportunity to swear.

Paying to park was simply out of the question. We’d seen what it cost by the hour, and that in and of itself provided our one and only laugh of the entire lengthy drive.

I felt like crying,

I tried another street, this one more than seven blocks from where we needed to be. Eugénie picked up the piece of paper with Christian’s number on it. I handed her the cellphone and she dialed. The real kick in the teeth was that we were on time. I mean, we actually pulled the car up in front of the swanky building — right across from the museum, or whatever that huge goliath of a structure is — and said, well, there it is, and here we are, right on time. Now, let’s just get ourselves a place to park and, walk on over here and we’ll be okey-dokey.

I may have actually said “okey-dokey.”

It’s not that we’re parking imbeciles, morons born of inexperience. Granted, we’re two decent Southern folk who fancy ourselves proper and thoughtful and good — in addition to being good drivers. I mean, we live in Washington, D.C. for the love of Jeff — parking there can be a real bear. Still. In D.C., if you drive around enough, eventually some sap is going to come out and get in his car and drive away leaving you a spot. That’s just the strange, karmic way it works. New York City, it seems, is filled with people who have literally forgotten where they parked, and simply abandoned their cars.

I sighed heavily, and so did Eugénie.

“I don’t ask for a whole lot, here,” I was starting to rant, as I’m known to do when rage begins to send me over the edge. “I mean, I just want a motherfucking PARKING SPOT!”

Eugénie didn’t speak, knowing that it could only lead to a fight. We turned down yet another street. Crap — up ahead were flashing red lights. An ambulance blocking the way. We’d be stuck for quite some time. Irrational now, I began to blame my friend.

“Who the fuck moves to New York, huh? I mean, who would want to live in this goddam piece of shit quagmire!”

Totally ridiculous.

Suddenly, without warning, we found a spot — and one that was not unreasonably far away. In fact, it was under the shade of a row of trees, near some townhouses. The whole thing reminded me of Georgetown, as a matter of fact. Now was the part where both Eugénie and I acted a little sheepish, embarrassed that we caused such a horrifying scene, if only in front of each other.

We walked quickly to my friends fancy apartment, holding hands and giving each other blushing smiles.

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