Turningby Steve Mochel on 04/18/10
Turning - Robin Reif
I woke today to a shining world. Spring had come in a blink and outside it was like that scene in movies where the mousey girl lifts her glasses and...(surprise! delight!)...she's suddenly beautiful. The air was so clear that every homely bush made a statement, stood out as distinct and enchanting. Yesterday's bald branches were newly edged with gold. Brownstones soaked in the morning light until their surfaces glowed. It was the kind of day that makes you want to sing arias at breakfast; tango on the sidewalk; get out in the world and DRIVE. I mean DRIVE like in a BMW ad - shusshing into swan neck curves on open roads with the top down and Dvorak's string serenade lifting your heart into the ether.
I bounded out to meet Danny, ran to the car, threw open the door, slid into the seat - ready to GO.
"Today we'll work on the fun stuff," he said. Right on! I thought.
"Three-point turns, U-turns and parallel parking."
"Yeah. And we can go to that dead end at Trump Place to practice." I thought of those summer nights, running with my friends, trailing peals of laughter and suddenly hearing my mother call me in for dinner. I dredged up my sinking heart and buckled up.
Rooting for the pedal, I quickly realized I had to make adjustments; Danny is a foot taller than me. "Don't tell me" I said, trying to recall which lever would move the mirrors. As I pushed this, twisted that, water sprayed up the windshield, wipers flipped back and forth, door locks popped. As you can guess, I'm not a gadget person, and if I hadn't been deflated before, I was coming down quickly now.
I drove to Trump Place where I executed what apparently is a new move: the 5-point turn, which Danny patiently had me repeat again til I could get it down to 3. Backing up threw me. It was hard to see clearly out the back, so I sort of prayed and reversed.
Then parallel parking. "What is the first think you have to think about when you parallel park?" Danny asked? "Not to knock the mirror off the other guy's car when you pull alongside?" I asked hopefully. "Well, yes, of course, but you have to pull up parallel. That's why it's called parallel parking." "Oh." My attempts left me at odd orientations to the curb but at least I got to recall some old geometry terms for angles like "obtuse" and "acute".
Afterwards, I thought about how desire and confidence often outstrip capability, which psychologists call "grandiosity" and parents of teens, I suppose, call "normal." There I was thinking open road! BMW! Dvorak! but here I am on a dead end street in a green and white Student Driver sedan, fumbling through a parallel park and reversing on a prayer.