Well, the system has broken down. I spent New Year’s Eve in Rockaway, ingesting pulled pork, Mud Slides, prosecco, beer, Bellinis, and other drugs (one of my neighbors has invented an astonishingly effective pipe, a kind of snorkel-bellows hybrid, made from hospital parts, including a big blue rubber bulb that looks like a magic lamp), and camped overnight in my frozen bungalow, then took the train home in the morning, leaving the car in my neighbors’ care. Parking is much more intimate in Rockaway than it is in Manhattan. I knew whose house I was parking in front of and whose car I was parking behind (the Catwoman’s black Mustang convertible). I informed T. & T. that the spot was good until Tuesday, January 5th.
Then came Epiphany, and I celebrated Russian Christmas with my friend G., watching two Hollywood extravaganzas about Russia, one with Marlene Dietrich as Catherine the Great and one with three Barrymores—Ethel, John, and Lionel—about Rasputin (whose beard apparently inspired the Marx Brothers shtick about the three Russian aviators in “Night at the Opera”). G. served borscht and complained the whole time about anachronisms in Hollywood’s version of Russia (though even she fell under the influence of Rasputin’s glittering eyes). Also that day I bought a ticket to see the Shostakovich opera based on Gogol’s “The Nose,” at the Met in March. I don’t know what set off this Russian kick—it was either travelling with Dostoevsky or seeing Alan Miller’s documentary (“You Cannot Start Without Me”) about the conductor Valery Gergiev.
The next day, I heard from my neighbors in Rockaway: the Éclair got a ticket. On Tuesday, the man whose house I was parked in front of, the Napoleon of 101st Street, recognized my car, saw that it hadn’t been moved for the street sweepers, and called first the Catwoman and then Mr. T., who rushed to the scene but did not get there in time. “It’s not much,” Mrs. T. wrote, but they felt bad and insisted on paying the ticket.
I blame myself. It had occurred to me to remind T. & T. that the car needed to be moved on Tuesday morning, but I thought that Mr. T. might actually be using the car, or that he would at least see it. When I parked on New Year’s Eve, I could have gone around the block and seen if there was a space on the street with no signs, where it would be good all winter, but I was lazy. Anyway, I consider the occasional ticket the price one pays for parking on the street. And I certainly don't expect my long-distance valets to foot the bill.
Meanwhile, we were amused by the drama of it all. The Éclair continues to have adventures, even without me in it. I was in a good mood anyway, because someone had sent me this link (thank you, Silvia) to a story about "Lady Parking": a garage at a shopping mall in China with extra-wide slots for women who have "a different sense of distance."