Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I made it out to Rockaway yesterday to retrieve the Éclair, which I’ll need for gallivanting around over the holidays. My original plan was to get the car on Saturday, but even if I had been on the road before it started snowing and got back into town before the snow started accumulating, and Mayor Bloomberg suspended alternate-side parking, as expected after a snowstorm, so that, if I found a spot, I wouldn’t have to move until I wanted to … it still seemed dim to choose that particular moment—in the eye of the blizzard—to drive into Manhattan.

So I waited, and yesterday, with a sensation compounded of equal parts hunger and happiness, I took the A train to Rockaway. My car was nowhere in sight, but Mrs. T. had said she would make sure it was dug out, and I figured that once it had been dug out there was no reason for Mr. T. not to use it. So I called him on my cell phone, its battery rapidly dying, and we connected. I had time to finish a few little tasks in the bungalow before he came with the car. For instance, although the bungalow itself is like an icebox in winter, I had not yet turned off the refrigerator, which means that I was using it to keep things warm, for which perverted use of refrigeration may Gore forgive me. When T. came, he helped me pack the car (I had enough raisins and walnuts and parmesan-cheese crusts in the refrigerator to sustain the Donner Party for a week), and I gave him a ride back to work.

In Manhattan, I started praying that the city would give me a Christmas gift in the form of a humble parking spot, a prize rarer than usual with snow barricading the curbs. It was about four o’clock, and I was meeting someone at five, so my plan was to trace my route and, if I found nothing, park at a meter for two hours and worry about it in the morning. At a light a block from K Street, I set the trip meter and my diver’s watch: there is nothing like taking a scientific interest to distract one from overwhelming feelings of despair.

Nothing on K Street, nothing on Penny Lane, nothing on the street with the independent coffee shop that is now a fishmarket … I was about to embark on the next long leg of my territory—let’s call it the Circus Maximus—but I decided first to buzz the Sanctuary, just in case, and what to my wondering eyes should appear but the most beautiful parking spot ever beheld by man: spacious, outlined by a modest snow bank—nothing I could not hump the car over—and carpeted in slush, allowing me to maneuver closer to the curb. It was a spot worthy of a car owned by a dentist.

Before locking the car, I poked my head back in to look at the trip meter: nine-tenths of a mile. According to my diver’s watch, I had been submerged in the search for seven minutes. Not bad—far less energy consumed therein than in, say, heating with refrigeration for a month. Now, if the Mayor will give us a break tomorrow, and I don't have to shiver in the car for a half hour, I will consider it a very merry alternate-side-parking Christmas.

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