Perfect Parker

Cathy Zimmerman

“You’re an excellent parker!!!”

I peeled the yellow Post-it off the driver’s side window of my Taurus and showed my daughter, who laughed so hard, she cried.

“Ohmygod this is great! Can I have this? I wanna hang it on my wall.” As she wiped her eyes, she said, “You know, Ma, they have a point.”

So, I parked a little crooked at Pathmark. So what? Who does this? Who takes the time to write such dripping sarcasm in perfect cursive to ruin someone’s day? For that matter, who keeps Post-its in their car? Okay, I do, but that’s beside the point. Who cares how I park?

It was definitely a woman—the handwriting was too neat for a man. A business woman. Hence, the Post-it. Someone who doesn’t ever think outside the box. Someone who eats sensible food and drives a Volvo. Someone who stores leftovers in properly burped Tupperware bowls instead of used soup containers from Golden Chopsticks. Someone who writes thank you notes and bakes for the new neighbors and never puts her elbows on the table. Someone who would never be friends with me.

My daughter stuck it on her bedroom wall with the rest of her Post-it collection between “Jody’s fingers smell like cheese,” (which her sister wrote when she got bored cashiering at mini golf) and “You + me + Elvis + entourage + bitches = ♥” from her boyfriend Mike. (Don’t ask me—I don’t want to know.)

Truth be told, I am an excellent parker. Not that my children should know. And not in supermarket parking lots either. In Ozone Park, Queens, somewhere south of Liberty Ave., Joe and I discovered two alleys lined with garages belonging to the houses behind them. No streetlights, because they weren’t streets. No pudgy Italian ladies sweeping the stoop and spying on neighbors. No impressionable young children peeking out windows. Just dark garages, sworn to secrecy. Like the movies—with his Jack Dawson to my Rose, “parking” passionately in the belly of the Titanic—one hand breaking the sweat inside the car window.

Long before that, as a college freshman living at home in Binghamton, I knew more parking spots than a Manhattan valet. From the hilltop parking lot of the Ely Park Golf Course, you can see the lights of three cities: Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott. Much more romantic than Hand Road, but that one lived up to its name. Of course the kids don’t want to hear this, any more than I want to know what they’re doing in the cars I paid for and the beds I bought. But there’s a spot under the trees in Forest Park, where…never mind.

I’ll bet Miss Perfect Post-it never went parking. I’ll bet she never booked the Waterfall Room at the Kew Motor Inn or The Garden of Eden Apple Suite at Pocono Palace, with its own tiny indoor pool and heart-shaped whirlpool bath. I’ll bet she never kisses on the first date and always waits for the guy to call her for the second. And when he doesn’t, she tracks him down and goes to his house in the middle of the night and breaks out her pad of Post-its. I hope he catches her in the act and sweeps her off her feet. I hope his name is Parker.

“You’re an excellent parker!!!”

I peeled the yellow Post-it off the driver’s side window of my Taurus and showed my daughter, who laughed so hard, she cried.

“Ohmygod this is great! Can I have this? I wanna hang it on my wall.” As she wiped her eyes, she said, “You know, Ma, they have a point.”

So, I parked a little crooked at Pathmark. So what? Who does this? Who takes the time to write such dripping sarcasm in perfect cursive to ruin someone’s day? For that matter, who keeps Post-its in their car? Okay, I do, but that’s beside the point. Who cares how I park?

It was definitely a woman—the handwriting was too neat for a man. A business woman. Hence, the Post-it. Someone who doesn’t ever think outside the box. Someone who eats sensible food and drives a Volvo. Someone who stores leftovers in properly burped Tupperware bowls instead of used soup containers from Golden Chopsticks. Someone who writes thank you notes and bakes for the new neighbors and never puts her elbows on the table. Someone who would never be friends with me.

My daughter stuck it on her bedroom wall with the rest of her Post-it collection between “Jody’s fingers smell like cheese,” (which her sister wrote when she got bored cashiering at mini golf) and “You + me + Elvis + entourage + bitches = ♥” from her boyfriend Mike. (Don’t ask me—I don’t want to know.)

Truth be told, I am an excellent parker. Not that my children should know. And not in supermarket parking lots either. In Ozone Park, Queens, somewhere south of Liberty Ave., Joe and I discovered two alleys lined with garages belonging to the houses behind them. No streetlights, because they weren’t streets. No pudgy Italian ladies sweeping the stoop and spying on neighbors. No impressionable young children peeking out windows. Just dark garages, sworn to secrecy. Like the movies—with his Jack Dawson to my Rose, “parking” passionately in the belly of the Titanic—one hand breaking the sweat inside the car window.

Long before that, as a college freshman living at home in Binghamton, I knew more parking spots than a Manhattan valet. From the hilltop parking lot of the Ely Park Golf Course, you can see the lights of three cities: Binghamton, Johnson City, and Endicott. Much more romantic than Hand Road, but that one lived up to its name. Of course the kids don’t want to hear this, any more than I want to know what they’re doing in the cars I paid for and the beds I bought. But there’s a spot under the trees in Forest Park, where…never mind.

I’ll bet Miss Perfect Post-it never went parking. I’ll bet she never booked the Waterfall Room at the Kew Motor Inn or The Garden of Eden Apple Suite at Pocono Palace, with its own tiny indoor pool and heart-shaped whirlpool bath. I’ll bet she never kisses on the first date and always waits for the guy to call her for the second. And when he doesn’t, she tracks him down and goes to his house in the middle of the night and breaks out her pad of Post-its. I hope he catches her in the act and sweeps her off her feet. I hope his name is Parker.

Emily Gilbert