It's not about the house.

Friday, April 9, 2010


It’s not because I’m old, I swear to god. I’ve always done it. One of my very first memories of having my license is not so much of driving, per se, as of getting my brother to put me up on his shoulders after the two of us wandered the Auburn Mall parking lot for forty minutes, trying to figure out where the hell I might have left my father’s car.

Things got more complicated when I grew up (relatively speaking) and moved to Boston, where I often had to go down a thousand one-way streets in the wee hours of the morning before managing to find the requisite fourteen feet of open curb. By the time I squeezed my good old land-cruiser into dock, it was usually all I could do to stumble home, let alone remember in which direction I had stumbled from. Thankfully, the good old land-cruisers (I went through several) were all distinctive enough in their own way – poo-brown with a window missing, yellow with a black hood and a blue part on one side – that most times all I had to do later was walk along the main drag glancing down side streets until I found it. And if not, well, the city would find it eventually and kindly send a notice telling me where I could pick it up.

I can’t pretend the Lost My Car routine didn’t come in handy for me sometimes back then, though. I once, for example, conned a Very Cute Boy into taking me home by letting him drive me past my poo-brown ’79 Buick Regal over and over and over and over again, while I inched closer and closer and closer to him on the bench seat of his light-blue ’76 Chevy Nova, widening my eyes, speculating that I must have gotten towed, and pretending to have no idea where the city might want me to pick it up... 

(For the record: neither of us are nearly as old as those models make us sound, we just had impeccable taste in motor vehicles. See?

 I don't know which of us looks hotter in these pictures, honestly.

And in my defense, the scenario I so seductively wove that night did turn out to be true... eventually. Because by the time I went back for the Buick the next morning -- or possibly evening -- she was as towed as towed can be. Best damn ninety bucks I ever spent, I tell you what.)

Anyway, things got a smidgeon easier when I moved back outside the city, but only because I still drove those shitbox land-cruisers, and there’s never what you might call an abundance of them in suburban parking lots. If I could manage to remember which door I entered the stadium-sized Stop & Shop through, for example (and let’s be honest, vegetables-vs.-ice cream has never been that hard a distinction for a girl with hips like these) then it was usually easy enough to spot Babe, the blue Ford E150 on my way back out. Malls did still flummox me -- they’d gotten so much bigger since I'd last been in one, with so many more ways to go in and out -- but I don’t do the mall thing all that much, so I was fine.

Until I bought the son-of-a-bitch Toyota.

Now not only do I forget where I left the damn thing, but I can also never seem to fucking find it! It looks just exactly like every other stupid small car – even the blues and greens and blacks don’t look all that different from one another at a distance in the sun – and it hides behind every SUV and (sniff) land-cruiser till I trip on it. So lately I’ve taken to wandering parking-lot aisles again, searching for my own car by its license plate, which thankfully I know by heart. It's: something something something-220.

You think I’m kidding about this? I am not. Last week, I drove a friend in to Mass. General for a minor emergency. She’s fine, thanks for asking. And it’s a good thing, too, because she's the only one who knew which button to push in the elevator when we left. If she hadn't pulled through in such Warrior fashion, I might still be looking for my car in that garage.

All of this is by way of explaining why I was so tickled with myself the other day. I wanted to go for a walk, see, but it was very hot out, so rather than get all sweated-up I decided to drive a few miles first and mosey down the beach. But the beach was awfully crowded for an April Wednesday (see: very hot out), so I had to go almost all the way down to the end before I found a spot. And then – here's the good part, brace yourselves – as I was kicking off my Jack Purcells and rolling up my jeans, I made a mental note of where I was.

I know!

Look, I told myself. There’s a stairway to the beach a few cars that way, and down there in the ocean is one of those big ugly things. What are those things, anyway? Giant, sticky-outy sandbar-ish creations poured from crumbling cement. They’re all up and down the beach. What are they for? I don’t know, EGE, I told myself, but they are all up and down the beach, so pay attention: yours is the one just this side of the yacht-club dock. If you walk back under that dock, you’ve gone too far. Got it?

Got it.

I had a lovely time. Walked for more than an hour, all the way down to one end of the beach, then back and all the way down to the other. Probably at least three miles, all together. The tide was low enough that I didn’t have to walk in the hot loose sand, but not so low I had to smell the rot. The air was warm, the breeze was cool. I read a magazine a little, sent a text message or two, raised my harried face into the sun and sighed. My ass cheeks got a decent workout, and by the time I recognized my staircase and cement thing again, I was renewed.

As I crossed the beach back to my stairs, there seemed to be a lot more foot-cutty, dried-up seaweed in the area than I'd felt on my way down. I guess I must have been so intent on knowing where I was that I just didn’t notice it before. Right? Right. Because these are my stairs, yes? Yes. Look, there’s my cement thing, and the Wollaston Yacht Club, just like I said, right over there. So up the stairs, to the left, three cars down and, um...

Where’s my something something something-220?

Up the stairs, to the right, and three cars down?


Up the stairs, to the left, six or eight or twelve cars? To the right and seventeen?


Fuck fuck fuck!

By this point the guy sitting on the sea wall reading his newspaper was looking at me sideways, and I could tell he was gearing up to say something if I walked in front him again. So I made a sharp left at my (or perhaps at this point I should just say “the”) staircase and went back down.

What the hell!? It couldn’t have gotten stolen, could it? I remember thinking that the first few times my old land-cruiser got — oh man, you don’t supposed the Toyota got towed? How ironic would that be, considering? But no. I mean, it was in a perfectly-legal, angled spot along the beach amongst a thousand other cars exactly (fucking) like it. So what the hell? Ah well, at least there’s no foot-cutty seaweed around this other stair—

Hang on.

Hey, who knew the tide could rise enough in an hour to all but bury my giant, sticky-outy, sandbar-ish cement thing?

Okay, but what about the yacht club? It’s over there, not over—


Dorchester Yacht Club. Two yacht clubs. And my staircase smack between them. That probably would’ve been a better landmark for me than one of a thousand identical (and eminently sinkable) cement thingers, don't you think?

Sure enough. Up the stairs, to the left and three cars down: something something something-220.

I have always done it, you know. It is not because I’m old.

I swear to god.

Now, if I could just lay my hands on that Cute Boy after all these years. Purely as a memory-building exercise, you understand...



atlanticmo said...


ege said...

Thanks, Mo -- but is it about my car, my senility, or my long-rusty powers of seduction?

Ladyscot said...

It's times like this that the panic button on my remote door lock thingy comes in handy...of course, that's if I am within range!

12ontheinside said...

You are such a freakin copycat. I have lost my car several times. Once I rang work from the nearest large shopping centre and told them I'd be late because my car had been stolen. Yeah, they sent up an apprentice who found it in another section of car park. Another time I arrived at the police station and asked them to drive me around till we found my car. I didn't realise till afterwards they really don't do that kind of thing. (Although I think the surprise of such a bold request shocked them this time - they drove me around the suburb for 40 minutes till we found the car. I'll never forget the look on their faces when I went in - I said "I've lost my car", and they said "Oh no, has it been stolen?" I replied "No, I just can't remember where I left it last"...)

Jenni said...

When I traveled for work, I would loose my rental car all the time. The clicker thing was a BFF.
However staying in 3 diff. Courtyard hotels with the same floorplan and color scheme in one week with no clicker on the room key had me checking back with the front desk several times.
"Look there's that blonde again who cannot find her room."

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