A week or so ago, I saw a post in the NYC Storytelling facebook group. It was an article that said to take five minutes every evening to write down the stories that happened to you that day. Things that you think are normal parts of your day may make for intriguing stories. You don’t know what you may find!
I’ve done this for a week and I’m sad to report that I actually am a boring person. On my own Homeric quest, the obstacles are not sirens and beasts and warriors, no, it’s dryers that take my quarters, F trains that are delayed to and from Manhattan, and pay checks that don’t arrive in the mail when I want them to.
This being said, I’m going to continue with this exercise. I am still proud of one of my boring stories. After all, no story is boring if you create the proper stakes. So, last winter, I had to move my car…
My car, my vehicle, my chariot bequeathed to me from my father upon his passing that I have claimed and used and preserved for the tasks that are its charge: trips to IKEA and Trader Joe’s. Yes, the car had to be moved lest it be besmirched by the foul, villainous marauder: the traffic cop. Oh you wicked wicked soldier whose very mention from my lips makes me taste bile in the back of my throat! Hiding behind a sinister grin, the traffic cop wields pieces of orange paper meant to slap the unsuspecting citizen with thievery! Forty-five dollars. Fie! The traffic cop was not to win that day.
Starting the car, I heard it’s rumble and I felt kinship. While your speedometer may be in kilometers (it was a used car and Rochester is pretty close to Canada, so…), you have miles to go before you sleep, dear friend. Yes, let’s away from this Tuesday 9:30-11:00 spot!
When Frederick Law Olmstead completed his masterpiece known as Prospect Park he never could have anticipated the frustrations that the automobile would cause the citizens who took up residence on the park’s western, sloping side. At times it seems that the cars in the aptly or ironically named Park Slope are as unmoving as the paths and stones laid out by Olmstead himself. Searching for the ever elusive parking spot: at times this fool’s errand feels like digging for buried treasure in a granite quarry! (Seriously, it takes, like, over an hour sometimes.)
I searched and searched through the maze of Park Slope, hardening my heart against the false hopes of what would turn out to be private driveways and fire hydrants. Then, finally, I saw a spot. (Fourth avenue can be kind of a hidden gem sometimes.) Rather, I saw what could be a spot were it not for this giant snow drift blocking half of it! Aye, nature can be more cruel and unyielding than the traffic cop. I could move this snow, surely, but how? Get down on my knees and scoop it away with my gloveless hands (not really a glove guy, especially if I’m going to be in my car). No! Such a foolish act could result in unthinkable pain! (You know, like, when you make snowballs without gloves? At first, your hands get really cold but then they, like, start burning sort of? It sucks.) Reinforcement is what I sought. Manpower? No. I am not such a solipsist as to believe that seeing my car parked rightly and truly would be reward enough for my kinsmen to be stirred from their hearths. No, I needed tools and I needed them post haste lest this potential spot be usurped!
I drove to the front of my apartment building and parked my car with the engine running, thumbing my nose at the traffic cops! You see my transgression, do you not?! I challenge thee to start writing a ticket whilst my hazards do blink, cowards!
I ran into the building’s storage and absconded with a shovel hoping beyond hope that its owner would abide its brief disappearance and forgive me my trespass. (I mean, it wouldn’t even be gone long enough to write a note but, like, it depends on the person, you know? Different people, different boundaries, blah blah blah.)
I returned to the spot to find that it was mine for the taking. No one else could see the spot that waited just beneath this mountain (mound) of snow! But it would be mine. When one decides, truly decides, to undertake a task then it is completed at the outset, the execution a mere formality. I dispensed with the snow, scattering it on street and sidewalk. (It was the kind that had melted and re-frozen, too. So, it was, like, really icy. It was a bitch.)
The spot having been cleared, I pulled my car back into it and lo the front bumper was more than fifteen feet from the fire hydrant in front! Measure it, traffic cop, you wretch!
I held the shovel in my hand, felt the grain of its wood. I breathed the winter air deep into my lungs and I wept for there were not more spots to dig out.
So, yeah, one time I dug out a spot for myself and it felt cool. Also, it was a Friday spot, so, I would have to move my car for, like, another three days!
Anyway, stay tuned for my next installment wherein I decide what to have for dinner: mac and cheese or orange chicken from Trader Joe’s? Indecision, you wretched curse!