There are several things I do not do well. Parallel parking is one. Fortunately, I have no burning desire, nor hankerin’, nor so much as an inkling to go out and parallel park in my spare time. It is not a hobby of mine. If I could do it, I would not include it on my resume. It is not something that will get me to the head of the ration line in a post-apocalyptic society. So, what’s the point?
Still, it bugs me that I can’t do it.
When I lived in Fort Wayne, Ind., I spent a lot of time downtown where much of the parking is curb-side. One warm, summer evening, I had time to kill before work, and the thought of a flavored coffee popped into my head. I decided to go to Dunkin’ Donuts so I could get a free doughnut with my AARP card. (Mind you, while I am old enough to be a card-carrying member of the AARP, I am not, in fact, “old.” I only got the card for the hotel discounts and free doughnuts.)
Anyway, there was almost no traffic on that particular one-way street that night, and there was an open parking space in front of the library, which also happened to be where the coffee shop was. And so, I summoned my courage and eased my Bonneville alongside a shiny, new Lexus, took a deep breath, and put the Bonnie in reverse.
On my first try, one back tire hit the curb. On my second try, the tire hit the curb hard. I suddenly got that creepy feeling one gets when a bunch of people are watching one make a fool of oneself. And what do you know? From across the street, a bunch of people were watching me make a fool of myself.
I was getting embarrassed and flustered. On my third try, I got the car perfectly parallel to the curb … and about 5 feet away from it. Traffic was picking up and, I don’t know, I guess I was “annoying” the other drivers. But I was determined.
I summoned all the dignity I could, and maneuvered the Bonnie back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, edging it ever closer to the curb. All the while, the folks across the road watched with puzzled looks upon their faces. I didn’t want them to watch. I tried to ignore them. I despised them. Back and forth, back and forth … forth … forth. STOP! Dang. Deep breath.
I finally got the car parked, and though it was ever-so-slightly at an angle, I didn’t care. I kept my chin up and continued to ignore the befuddled faces across the road. Why were they still looking at me? Why did they appear both amused and judgmental? Why was I so unnerved by it?
And then I saw it … all along the other side of the one-way street, from block to block, was nothing but parking spaces — and nary a car in any of them.
And after all that, I forgot my stupid doughnut. firstname.lastname@example.org