Monday, November 15, 2010

Arrr ...

Pigeons swarmed the sidewalk outside my car door this morning. I could not tell what they were pecking at, it was so tiny (cornmeal?). Apart from the pigeons, I was in a beautiful spot: Monday/Thursday, 7:30-8, with alternate-side suspended Tuesday through Thursday for Idul-Adha. I am good till next Monday and then again for Thanksgiving, if I don’t go anywhere this weekend.

At 7:50 A.M., the Broom sped down the middle of the street with no intention of sweeping. The car in front of me, a big white Lexus with Massachusetts plates, was unoccupied. At eight o’clock, a young blonde showed up with a cup of coffee, got in the car, and drove away. What did she know that I didn’t know?

Sunday evening I came home to yet another envelope from the Department of Finance. It felt ominously thick, as if it contained a return envelope, yet it seemed too soon for a response to my defense in the matter of the defunct curb cut. I make it a policy not to open financial mail in the evening, but in this case I couldn’t stand the suspense. I tore open the envelope and inside, along with a pre-addressed return envelope, was a form showing three pictures of the Eclair, unmistakable with its fishermen’s-parking-lot permits lined up on the right rear fender and, as if that were not enough, a closeup of the license plate. It was running a red light.

My first sensation was of hilarity: I had caught my mechanic joy-riding. The red-light camera was in Rockaway, where I had left the car for a muffler job: it wouldn’t be the first time that I had gotten a ticket while my car was at the mechanic’s. He had probably taken it for a test drive after fixing the muffler, or used it to run an errand, or both. Hah! I would present him with this undeniable proof and demand that he give me a free oil change and throw in a pair of complimentary windshield-wiper blades.

But when I examined the details, the date of the violation did not match up with my appointment to get the muffler fixed. Where was I on 09/11/2010 at 5:59 PM? That was the Saturday after Labor Day, and friends from New England were visiting me in Rockaway. I had gone to the marina in the afternoon to check on my boat, and then returned to the bungalow, where one friend had already arrived on foot and the other soon arrived by car. We sat on the porch for a while, trying to decide what to do for dinner; I didn’t feel like cooking. Then I had a brainstorm: a picnic at Fort Tilden. We had fresh mozzarella and garden tomatoes and leftover pesto and sliced turkey and a bottle of Prosecco. We bought some rolls, threw in salt and pepper and knives and forks. I even packed champagne glasses.

I don’t remember running the light on the way to the beach. I must have sailed through it in an excess of high spirits. The amount due is $50. When I showed the Notice of Liability to a friend who let me use the color copier at work, he said, “You should get rid of that car.”

I went out in the boat one more time on Sunday, heading over to the capped-off landfill on the Brooklyn side at high tide. Thankfully, it was an uneventful trip, and though I haven’t gotten out much this season, on my return I executed a beautiful landing: yanking the gas plug as I entered the marina, feeling the motor begin to sputter out as I turned into my slip, having the boat glide to a stop just as it reached the dock. I grabbed the line I tie up with and wrapped it around the cleat. Too bad no one was watching except the cormorants.

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