The broom made us move today, and what a mess. The four cars parked between the curb cut and the crosswalk pulled diagonally across the street, and an S.U.V. that had been lurking behind me, at the curb cut, sat in the middle of the road, blocking traffic, as the street sweeper honked. “You’d better not try to steal my spot, buddy,” I grumbled over my shoulder at the S.U.V. as we all reversed into place.
But he was good—he even backed up a little to give me room to maneuver. I couldn’t understand why he was content to remain in an illegal spot, though. Maybe he had business in the neighborhood, or was waiting for someone.
Then, just before eight, he came to my window and asked me to move up. He was a black guy with a foreign accent. I had a few inches to work with, so I agreed. But after I had moved I got out of the car to see what he was up to. “You don’t actually think you’re going to fit in there, do you?” I said. He was right up against my bumper, and the rear third of his car was over the yellow line, leaving barely enough room for a car to turn into the driveway behind him. He was planning to park an entire S.U.V. in the space formerly occupied by a motorcycle (a Ducati—today it was parked across the street).
My watch said eight o’clock, but the woman in front of me, in the blue Subaru, had not gotten out of her car yet, so I turned on the radio. Folk music poured out of it, and I did a double take: yes, the radio was set to WQXR, the classical station, at 96.3 FM, soon to move up the dial to 105.9 and become a public radio station. I am looking forward to that, because the public station will have fewer commercials, and often when I'm listening to WQXR I have to jump up and turn the radio off, because the commercials are always about cancer. Then I recognized the folk music as Peter, Paul and Mary; I had just read the obituary of Mary Travers in the Times. When the song was over, Jeff Spurgeon, the morning guy at WQXR (he used to belong to my singing group), identified it as Bach—modern lyrics to a chorale from the St. Matthew Passion. He had found the perfect thing to play in memory of Mary Travers.
The guy in the S.U.V. thanked me before he left. Afraid he might not be familiar with our customs, I pointed to the yellow curb and asked, “Are you sure you can get away with this?”
“I come back after two hours,” he said, and rushed off. Then I remembered my own sometime mantra: Anyone can paint a curb yellow.