Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The perils of parallel parking


(578 words)

I’ve said before that a father teaching a daughter to drive is like a warden teaching an inmate how to escape.

So as of yesterday it was, “One-Adam-12! One-Adam-12! We have an APB for a female 16-year-old known to come to a complete stop even at desolate intersections. Suspect exhibits pathological disdain for having to parallel park.”

That comes from me. Here’s the sum of my parallel parking instructions:

“Accelerate past the vacancy to reduce the temptation to parallel park there. Drive in a relaxed fashion until you find a spacious surface lot with three adjoining spaces. Park in the middle one. Summon Uber and pay $5 or so bucks to drop you off at the front door of your destination.”

This was her second time taking the test. I told her (lied) 72 percent of test takers who fail do so because of a parallel parking failure. 

“Just like you!”

Citing the made-up statistic did nothing to ease her despondency.  I needed to say something wise and insightful. Here, after hours of deliberation, is what I came up with:

“You’ll get ‘em next time, kiddo!”

That’s it. It was like she was 4 and blew a chance to win a silly straw at an Aisle 6 supermarket promotion.

Happily, God is well-aware of my many shortcomings. He (pronoun from Biblical sources) sent me two examples that bestowed perspective and levity that helped deflate her tension.

The first was a timely recollection of an “Austin Powers” clip of him 

trying to execute a 3-point turn. It’s absolutely hilarious. Check it out right here.

The second example caught me by surprise. He’s not someone for whom I’ve ever felt any affinity. He was a bad husband to one of my favorite Hollywood lovelies (Jennifer Garner) and he’s currently imposing his New England mopiness on another (Jennifer Lopez).

Yes, it’s Ben Affleck. I normally wouldn’t pay any attention to Affleck news, but I was having a bad day and the way small-minded men like me feel better about ourselves is reading about people we envy having days that suck. The headline is  “Another Rough Day for Ben Affleck,” by Danielle Cohen in New York magazine. It’s terrific.

So what was the source of the Afflek’s angst? Did he and Garner have families to blend? Did J-Lo ask him to break dance in her next video?

No, the trouble was parallel parking. This is from Cohen’s story.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to parallel park, but it is akin to entering the fifth circle of hell, with the sixth being doing it while people watch. (This magazine’s official stance on parallel parking: “People should be allowed the grace to park alone without being perceived.”) So it only makes sense that Ben Affleck, who recently resumed his reign as the king of despair, was subjected to being not only watched but also filmed while trying to work his way out of a parking crisis.

“On Monday, Affleck found himself in the nightmarish scenario of attempting to wiggle his Mercedes-Benz out of a parking spot in Brentwood. Affleck knows better than anyone that we live in a cruel, cruel world, so of course TMZ managed to secure footage of the entire ordeal.”

We can relate.

I propose we alter the spelling of the hassle to better reflect all that could go wrong in attempting it.

It’s peril-l-ous parking.

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