Friday, February 25, 2011
Most of the time when people with cars visit me they defer to my parking wisdom. Baby Dee always asks my advice, and I’ve given very specific directions to a friend from Massachusetts, which she has followed with great success. (No parking tickets.) So it was a surprise last weekend when a friend from New Hampshire proved resistant. As she prepared to go out to find a spot on Sunday at around noon (good instinct), she announced—after I had expended considerable breath recommending that she take advantage of Presidents’ Day, when alternate-side parking would be suspended, by driving several blocks to the Sanctuary (though it would probably be full already)—“I’m parking across the street.”
“But then you’ll have to feed the meter,” I said. She seemed not to mind. I had told her how to find a spot the Thursday before, and apparently she did not enjoy my machinations. I laid out for her a three-part parking scheme: (1) At 7:30 A.M., she had to move her car to the other side of the street, where it was good till eight. (2) At 8 A.M. she had to move the car back to my side of the street and feed the meter (1 hour = $5, in quarters). (3) Nine was the best time to look for a spot on an 8:30-10 block, after the street sweeper had gone by, and when she found one [exhaustive directions suppressed; she ignored them anyway] she had to sit in the car till ten. She particularly resented this last part, telling me that lots of people left their cars. And there she was, a prisoner, in a car with New Hampshire license plates, which say “Live Free or Die.”
I just couldn’t impress on her the advantages of being parked a half mile away. She probably suspected (rightly) that I was trying to get her to stay longer. They were forecasting snow for Monday, and if it turned into a blizzard it would definitely be better for her to be in an unmetered spot. Anyway, she found a spot across the street that was good till eight on Monday morning, when she moved to my side of the street and started pumping quarters into the Muni Meter. Fortunately, I had plenty of quarters, because I am one of those people who empties the change out of her pockets every day and takes it to the Penny Arcade to be counted once a year. And being parked right in front of the building did make it easier for her to pack the car. She spent another fifteen dollars—or sixty quarters—on parking, which is at least a hundred dollars less than she would have spent if she had put the car in a garage for four days. And we got to watch three episodes of “Top Chef” together before she left, at noon, when it had stopped snowing.
The highlight of my friend’s stay came last Friday, when the temperature reached sixty-seven degrees, and we cruised up Park Avenue in a Mustang convertible with the top down and the radio blaring. The Mustang belongs to my Rockaway friend the Catwoman, who visited me in Manhattan for the first time. Sorry I didn’t get a picture of the car.