Although St. Patrick's Day is not on the alternate-side parking calendar, it turns out to be an unofficial holiday—at least it was on my block. I arrived this morning for my 7:30-8 A.M. shift, and the parking pattern had bizarrely shifted. The cars of government officials and military personnel—naval units, infantry, United States Marine Band—were parked diagonally on one side of the street, displaying a breathtaking variety of permits, some of them expired.
I didn’t even bother getting inside my car, because it was obvious that the street sweeper (if he came) wouldn’t be able to get near the curb. I stood outside, drinking my coffee and admiring my new vent window in the back on the driver’s side and my new side-view mirror on the passenger’s side. I spent hours on Saturday afternoon tromping around in Far Rockaway while the auto-glass guys worked on my car. It is in good enough shape now that I might be able to offer a ride to the woman who sold it to me without her suffering a coronary.
Only one other person showed up this morning to tend a parking spot. I had the definite sensation of having been left out of the loop. I guess all the cops were marching in the parade, or warming up their bagpipes, or had gone to Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The street sweeper appeared at 8:47 and saw all the illegally parked cars, and just drove down the middle of the street and off the block. He, too, had the look of someone who had been left out of the loop.
Alternate side is officially suspended later this week on both Thursday and Friday (for Purim, and Holy Thursday and Good Friday), so I am good for the week. Once I was sure the car was secure, I went grocery shopping (oatmeal, juice, cat food), and paused in front of the cabbage. People think because you’re Irish you crave corned beef and cabbage. People are wrong. I associate cabbage with the kitchen of my childhood: the corned beef and the cabbage and the inevitable potatoes boiling away on the stovetop in March, like extract of claustrophobia, and I want out of there. The cabbage I was looking at was Chinese cabbage, or Napa cabbage; it is an ingredient in Marcella Hazan’s recipe for minestrone (I usually leave it out). I hefted a big sodden head of it; it was heavy, and had a few black specks on its outermost lower leaves. I had a vision of it two weeks from now in a plastic bag in my so-called vegetable crisper, totally liquefied. I put it back.
I subscribe to some of the Irish national vices, notably Guinness. But I don’t think I am ever going to develop a taste for cabbage.