My wife and I always talked about getting a car and how easy it would be to just “get up and go.” How carefree our life could be if we had the ability to go where we wanted, when we wanted. There would be no need to rely on public transportation and no reason to leave two hours before our train time because I’m neurotic.
The things we COULD do!
Long weekends out in Montauk.
Late night trips to Atlantic City.
Or, in our case, pretty much just going to the grocery store.
We decided to get a car after we got back from our honeymoon because we weren’t through depleting our savings account yet. We live in Astoria and both work in Manhattan so there was no need to get anything too fancy so we landed on a Honda Civic – which, Accord-ing to almost every car website – is ALWAYS among the top cars to steal in the United States.
“No one fucks with your car if you have The Club,” was a quote by one of Jacki’s, my wife, co-workers. Now this isn’t 1990 and those sweet infomercials aren’t still airing so I’m not even sure where to get one. But I can tell you this, everyone in Astoria apparently had a stockpile of these things – I think I saw three of four on one steering wheel once.
The car has really been great for us though. Both of our families live on Long Island and it used to be such a hassle to get to see them so now when they ask us to visit we can say we’re going on a road-trip.
There have been some downsides to having the car. For starters, opposite-side parking has pretty much become the bane of my existence. There are about 5,000 cars currently in Astoria and about five parking spots. There was also a lengthy discussion between my wife and no-one else where the decision was made that I was to be the EXCLUSIVE car move-er-er-er-errrrrrrr. The advantage of being the exclusive car-parker – that’s better – is that now I have the skills of a trained stalker who looks maniacal after two-hours of looking for a parking spot. I sometimes feel like an old man peering out his window to make sure those damn neighbors and their dog aren’t on my lawn again!
Another downside is that I have grown in size. Astoria is what I would consider a walking town. Everything is near-by and – pretty much – within a 5-10 minute walk from our apartment, but not when you have a car! Take that 5-10 minute walk and turn it into a 30-minute Odyssey full of fights – from almost running people over – and struggle – DAMN! that space is too small I’m not sure I’ll Fit – and the occasional Insight that it would be easier to drive to Long Island to get bagels than circling around the block and parking in the same spot I just left because that’s the closest one to the nearest bagel place. The basic idea about that rant is that I’m getting fat.
One more downside is that our block in Astoria has turned itself into a Hollywood studio because movie makers enjoy seeing angry people throw stuff at them when they take away all of our parking spots. The other day, however, Jacki and I came home from the bar – lucky for her I’m always the Pilot as I don’t drink – and we found a spot on our street. I would imagine the only thing that would make me happier than finding a spot on my street would be finding out that Kurt Cobain was secretly still alive. There was no searching for hours, no stalking, and only a small dent on the CR-V that I backed into…repeatedly. We parked and walked off arm-in-arm laughing like a stuck-up rich couple in some movie I can’t remember…
The next day I had to utilize the car so I sought out to find it and I remember thinking to myself, “HOLY SHIT WHERE THE FUCK IS MY CAR????!!!!! WHY DIDN’T I BUY THE CLUB OFF EBAY?????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Our car was gone. It completely vanished into thin air, like Kevin Bacon in Hollow Man. I started to panic and I had no idea what to do. So I did what any self-respecting man in his late 20’s would do, I started stomping around like a child and biting my quivering lip so I wouldn’t cry. Then I ran to my apartment – which would’ve been a lot easier if we didn’t have the car and still walked everywhere – and searched on a website to see if my car was towed and not stolen.
“NO CAR WITH THAT LICENSE PLATE NUMBER HAS BEEN TOWED.”
Then my mind started to race. Did someone steal my car and go on a Thelma and Louise type joyride and then launch my car from a Ridgeline and into a deep canyon never to be heard from again?
The possibilities were endless!
Once I calmed down and re-collected my composure I called 3-1-1. “…yeah that guy got a Crosstour, I told him he ain’t getting wit — Hello, this is 3-1-1, how can I help you?”
“MY CAR WAS TOWED AND I HAVE NO ONE TO YELL AT BUT YOU!”
“Sir, if you could please stop crying I can certainly help you out.”
Turns out, in Astoria, that this type of thing happens “all of the time.” That’s right, your car essentially vanishes from where you parked it and into a completely different parking spot that is – well – only like a half mile away but I didn’t have an air-tank with me so it was tough.
No signs, no warning, they just go ahead and tow it right the fuck away from where they need to shoot and then embarrass you in front of you neighbors as you struggle to put the right key into the proper slot because your eyes are full of tears.
So I guess that’s one more disadvantage of having a car, but at least I got some exercise.
P.S. The movie was Titanic. And Billy Zane played a pompous asshole in that movie. I just looked it up. That felt better than finding a spot on my block too, sorry Kurt.