I remember spending lots of time in the car when we lived in Germany with the kids firmly strapped into their styrofoam buttcups (our word for their child safety booster seats). But my tensest moments were when Marty was trying to re-teach me to parallel park.
I have no idea how I passed the parallel-parking portion of my (second) road test here in New York. Maybe it’s because I was 17 and my brain was fully functioning compared to what it was when I took my road test when I was 36 and living in Germany. Yes, my brain was on a slow decline much like my parallel parking abilities, apparently.
When you live in Germany as a US citizen, you have no reciprocity on your driver’s license. You get an “International Driver’s license” for one year, then you must obtain a German license. Yes, we drive on the same side of the road. Interestingly enough, if you are from England, where one drives on the opposite side of the road, you’re good as gold. You don’t have to do a thing. EU, schmeeuuuu. It was simply a money-making scheme the Germans had. It cost me $800 DM (maybe about $600 then) in private lessons on how to drive properly in the villages, on a pier, towing a two-ton truck, and on the autobahn. I also had to search for a teacher w a car with an automatic vs. a stick. And who spoke English.
The teacher told me I was fine on the Autobahn, but was not so great in the village, where I required the ability to parallel park. PERFECTLY. WITHIN THE CENTIMETER. THE GERMAN WAY. I can say this, I am German. Therefore, I spent quite a bit of time with Marty patiently teaching me how to parallel park with the kids strapped in the back. I never, ever permanently re-learned that ability. Only learned it enough to pass that damned German road test.
In fact, I remember when I was 18, in the middle of a parallel park, I caught the back bumper of a pickup truck in the real-wheel well of my used car. The truck’s bumper opened the side of my car like a can of sardines. Not a scratch to the truck’s bumper.
So two nights ago I was out with two of my gal pals, and, knowing that I can’t parallel park, they warned me there was no parking lot at the restaurant I was to meet them at. (Is that a dangling participle?) I told them not to worry, I’d be fine. Blonde-Bomb Shell replied, “I know you’ll be fine, it’s the rest of the city I’m worried about.”
Funnily enough, while we were eating, seated at the bay window, we watched a patron try to parallel park right in front of us. My two gal pals burst out laughing wondering how the hell the guy couldn’t get his car in that damned spot, “he has PLENTY of room,” they both said. Me, I felt sorry for my comrade.
Love, Little Miss Sunshine