WHAT IS THE SECRET TO PERPENDICULAR PARKING? I really need help. This video says I should swing wide. Which, okay, I can do that as long as I’m pulling into a space on the left and not the right, and there aren’t a jillion cars behind me WATCHING ME FAIL.
The parallel parking I’m actually not terrible at — La Doug taught me to line my nose up with the car in front. I look in my side mirror and I can see how far I am from the curb so I know when to straighten out. This is working for me. But whenever I need to park the CR-V in one of those skimpy little parking spaces especially prevalent at Asian strip malls, I panic. I always think my car’s snub nose is going to crumple the side of the car next to me.
The other day, the lovely Adam Roberts, aka The Amateur Gourmet, invited me over to his house for dinner and to be a guest on his podcast, The Clean Plate. Despite the fact that I had not yet ventured on the 5 freeway, nor had I driven at night, I wanted to SAY YES. I have precious few opportunities to socialize with non-senior citizens.
Adam asked me to bring a bottle of wine. A quick Google maps search revealed that there are no wine stores for miles. (What do people in La Puente drink? Just beer?) Knowing the selection at my nearest supermarket, the one with an ENTIRE AISLE of Maruchan ramen, would NOT have a viable option available, I headed over to the neighboring town to pick something up from Vons. (For you non-California readers, wine can be purchased at grocery stores here. For you Californians wondering, as my friend Brooke did, why I didn’t go to Trader Joe’s, the nearest one is a 20 minute drive from me.) However, even the nice Vons had only Beringer and Barefoot Cellars as options. I’m no wine snob. I don’t even really drink the stuff except in spritzers, but I didn’t want to embarrass myself. I decided to BE BRAVE and try and find a wine shop closer to his house.
I got to Atwater Village without incident and with an hour to spare. Easy peasy, right? I mapped the nearest wine store — just a few blocks over on the other side of Los Feliz Blvd. But when I got to the intersection, Lady Google Maps asked me to cross through a six lane boulevard, the cars gushing forth from either side like the blood pulsing in my temples. Don’t panic, I thought, just make a right turn and try to make the next left.
But there wasn’t another left to make. Instead, I had to cross the bridge over into Los Feliz, a confused salmon swimming against the current, getting further and further away from the wine store. It took me a mile or two before I was able to get back into Atwater again.
When I finally got near the wine store, I was confounded by the street planning. I know they are trying to make Atwater Village a pedestrian-friendly area, but it was a nightmare for this auto-bound n00b. There are precious few parking spots in front of the stores. Behind the parked cars, there’s an island, then a very hopeful bike lane populated by easily-crushed cyclists, then the car lanes. At one point, I got stuck behind the island after looking in vain for a parking space and had a hard time getting my big silver booty back into the street.
I eventually found the wine shop, which actually had a tiny little parking lot. However, every resident of Atwater seemed to be trying to get in and out of there, too. There were two spots in front of the store. I tried the first time to get my nose in, but wound up straddling the two spots. I backed up a second time and aimed — no luck. I backed up a third time and tried to get between those goddamn lines. At this point, there was a big SUV behind me with a fluffy-haired 20-year-old honking at me. I was just like, FUCK. THIS. I backed out and drove into the neighboring residential area and parked two blocks away next to a roomy, empty curb. I had sweated straight through my t-shirt. I turned off the engine, hoovered up some peanut M&Ms, and tried to calm down.
I realize now that I probably just should have parked in front of Adam’s house and walked to the wine store. But it didn’t even occur to me to do so. AND I have anthropomorphized my car. WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME? I have become the autonormative Angeleno I never thought I’d be.
(Also, I didn’t realize what a debt The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Karen O owes to Missing Persons’ Dale Bozzio.)