The bars close at 2 a.m. in most of California. I know this because 2 a.m. is all too often when the wacky stuff happens.
Not in our household of course. We were safely ensconced in bed, sound asleep. Unimpressed with the Friday TV lineup (so much for cable TV. Eighty odd channels perhaps, but 80 times nothing is still nothing) the missus took a book and went upstairs to bed, as I systematically started at the top, ran through the channels down to 2 and gave up, putting in a DVD of an old movie (After the Thin Man, still a great flick), watching half of that, then hit the hay.
Until 2 a.m., when I heard the sound of a crash, and then perhaps a car hitting recycling bins. Friday is trash/recycling day in our neighborhood, and a number of our neighbors leave their garbage and recycling bins out on the curb. I got up to see what was going on and promptly stepped on a big dog. Edie girl usually sleeps by my corner of the bed, and even in the dark I can make out her black fur against the beige carpet. But they had pulled the old switcheroo, and the shade of Ernie’s German shepherd fur is similar enough to our carpet that I didn’t see his leg and half-stepped on then hopped off him. Once we had completed our Laurel & Hardy routine together (me as Ollie) (“why don’t you do something to help me?”), I pulled on the bathrobe, and listened, and heard what sounded like a car leaving. Quasi-oriented, if not completely dis-, I let my bladder make the next decision and just went to the bathroom, figuring it was nothing. Which is when I heard another crash.
This time I decided to investigate; I found the house clogs and the spectacles, went down the stairs with the dogs at my ankles, left them in the house and went outside in the drizzle. Next door I could see headlights at a slight angle out from the curb, another neighbor’s Isuzu Trooper up on the curb, and a small Dodge Ram pickup truck shoved into our Honda CRV. The headlights belonged to a small, dark Japanese-made car, I’ll call it the sedan, and as I approached I could see it wasn’t just a small bump-bump; the Dodge Ram had really been shoved into the back of our CRV—I couldn’t tell how bad the damage was to our car, but the Dodge’s rear and hood were both bashed up pretty bad.
This isn’t the first time we’ve had collisions involving parked cars here on our corner, as some of you may recall.
I walked up to where the headlights were. My first thought was that this crazy driver was trying to parallel park in front of our neighbors’ driveway, and had slammed back and forth between the vehicles. Someone was in the sedan, grinding the starter. The right front end of her car was mangled pretty bad, so that the headlight was in shards. I walked back to the Isuzu so I could see the sedan’s rear license plate, and made a mental note of the license plate number. And then she called out to me, through an open right front window. “I’m not trying to run away.”
“Okay,” I said, and recited the license number to her to let her know that she wasn’t going to get far, were she to try.
And she corrected me. Her license plate holder had obscured the bottom of a Z, so I’d misread it as a 7. (Two a.m. out of a sound sleep not being, perhaps, my most lucid of moments.)
So she may have been a maniacal parker, but she was an honest maniacal parker.
“I’m not trying to run away,” she said again. She got out of the car and approached me; as did our corner neighbor (whose father-in-law’s van had been mashed in the March ’08 incident I linked above). “My boyfriend is a CHP,” she told me (California Highway Patrol. Man, I bet he’s real happy with her now.)
I told her I was going to call the police, and went upstairs. And had another odd exchange. The dispatcher put me on hold, and then came back and started asking for vehicle information. (Make, model of our car and of her car?) “Look, I live at—” and I gave her our address. “Just send the police here.” Sheeeesh. My brain was still recovering from the interrupted dream I’d been having moments earlier, which I could no longer remember, but which had left its own residual emotional imprint on my half-combobulated cognizance.
Our dogs, meanwhile, were barking again. Then someone knocked at our door. It was the driver, an attractive young woman, perhaps of Latin or southern European ancestry. “I’m not trying to run away,” she repeated. I was beginning to believe her. She absolutely wasn’t fazed by the dogs, and seemed to want to chat, as if we’re all nice people here, and if we could just communicate, connect as people, it might somehow uncrumple the metal of four vehicles. We walked back out to the cars, and she kept standing close to me, close enough that I caught a whiff of her breath and evidence of multiple beverages that cost five bucks or more. “I’m not trying to run away,” she said, for at least the fourth time.
Which is how I found myself out on the sidewalk, in my bathrobe, standing next to a slender, intoxicated young woman with pretty eyes who was repeatedly assuring me she didn’t want to leave me.
Why the hell didn’t this happen more often when I was single?
And several police cars weren’t approaching? (Without any CHP boyfriends, neither?) I didn’t even need to buy her a drink.
The police did come zipping up our avenue, however, in the increasing drizzle, pulling wide U-turns and arriving in force (three cars within a couple minutes, and soon four or five). “Who’s the driver of this vehicle?” the first officer on the scene asked, indicated the mangled sedan. He’d parked in the middle of the road (our avenue is five lanes wide; seven, counting the parking lanes), and was walking toward us.
I nodded indicating my earnest acquaintance, and we quickly parted ways, our vehicles having made a greater impact on each other than our persons. (I’ve been in my share of romantic accidents, however. There’s a new dotcom here that purports to show you a used car’s accident history; were my body subject to a similar report, I could only be sold for stock car races.)
I’ve got some pictures to download, but it’s not going to happen tonight. Tomorrow, I hope. Before the Vikings/Saints football game. As the saying goes, watch this space.