Periscope Depth

I give a little to you, I give a little to him, I give a little to her

I had two encounters with comical anger on Saturday:

Item the First: chauffeuring Liz B. around on Saturday, I thought I’d lucked into a parking lot on the far end of Newbury St near the public gardens. I saw a car pulling out of a spot and swerved across an open lane to take it. I was just wondering how to correct my initial approach when an SUV barreled toward me in reverse, rocking to a halt a few feet away.

My eyes had glossed over the SUV without pause when I first saw it: a double-parked vehicle with its hazards blinking on Newbury St on a Saturday doesn’t merit the evening news. But apparently he’d been waiting for this guy to pull out. Yet here I was, already in the spot.

It had been so long since I’d contested a parking spot with someone that I wasn’t sure of the procedure. Am I in the right here?, I wondered. Should I back out? Is he going to give up?

SUV precipitated the decision for me, not by rolling down his window to scream obscenities but by opening his door. However, he was in such a hurry to get out and confront me that he forgot to remove his seat belt. He wrestled with the strap while standing next to the open driver side door, lips creased in a snarl. I already had one hand on the stick shift (D to R) and the other up in an “easy there, killer” open palm.

Seeing me reverse, the driver gave a curt nod and a “move along” gesture with his hand. I didn’t linger to watch the aftermath.

I don’t know how that would have gone down if he hadn’t become tangled up in his seatbelt on his way out the door. Check that: I know I wouldn’t have started a fistfight on Newbury St over a parking spot. But that moment of pure slapstick defused the tension for me. I recognized the man for what he was – someone very vested in a Lockean notion of property rights re: parking spots; he had mixed his labor (waiting with the hazards on) with the soil (nine feet by four next to a meter) and expected it to yield fruit. My life is richer for avoiding crazies, not confronting them.

(And I shouldn’t call the man “crazy” based on twenty chaotic seconds of interacting with him. He doubtless had a different anecdote to share that evening: “So I’m circling Newbury St for, like, twenty minutes looking for a spot. Then I see a guy pulling out, so I park right in front. But then this prick in an Audi swerves across to try and snatch it from me! I’m sittin’ there, in plain daylight, and he tries to poach that shit. So I get out to give him a piece of my mind, and he backs right the fuck down.”)

I ended up parking two blocks away, just over the Pike. Added maybe five minutes to my walk.

Item the Second: I took Liz to see ImprovBoston’s mainstage show that evening. Afterward we lingered in the bar, chatting with the performers and house staff. I introduced Liz to Narragansett, Boston’s answer to PBR (which I hadn’t thought needed answering, but hey).

A woman in platform heels and a colorful, ill-fitting outfit walked out of the back hallway, probably coming from the Cabaret studio. She stepped outside to light up a smoke. Another woman followed her in short order and conducted a brief, quiet argument with her. This second woman then came back inside, to where Natalie B. was working the bar.

“Do you guys serve alcohol here?”, she asked.

Natalie nodded.

“Lemme get two raspberry Stolis and lime.”

“We don’t actually have hard -” Natalie began explaining.

“Okay, two Coronas.”

“We don’t -”

“Two Heinekens, then.”

Natalie, an adorable ball of energy, smiled and gestured at the fridge behind her. “We’ve only got a few beers stocked here. Harpoon, mostly.”

The woman got a few Harpoons and some bottled water and vanished. Twenty minutes later, the 9:00 show let out. She and a similarly dressed crew emerged, tottering and shrieking, to wait in the lobby for their ride.

“And they don’t even have fuckin’ Heineken,” the original woman was explaining. “They’ve got some bullshit beer. What was it? Fuckin’ O’Doul’s?” She asked this of Ted, possibly the nicest human being on the face of the planet, who was reading a book behind the cash register.

“It’s Harpoon,” he explained.

“Harpoon? Whaddaya, whaddaya.” If I hadn’t suspected they were out-of-towners before, the Brooklyn accent and the ignorance of Harpoon proved it. The Brooklyn ladies waited in their swarm until their stretch Hummer pulled up on Prospect St.

I don’t have a lengthy explanation for the above; sorry.

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