Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Parking It

I idle away as many summer afternoons as possible in the park across the street from where I live, basking in the shade and keeping my ears open for the ice cream truck. Since those park benches are too hard on my ass, I (long ago) upgraded to a portable lounging chair.

Everyone who waltzes by wants this chair – bad. But instead of enviously ogling it, they’d be better off strolling into their preferred Rite Aid location and handing over the $10 it takes to secure their own sweet seat (which needn’t be limited to outdoor use).

I went out for a portable lounge a few afternoons ago, setting up my canvas throne on a weedy knoll, underneath a tree. When I reached into one of the chair’s mesh cup holders to take a sip of cold water, I cussed myself out for not having had the foresight to fill another temperature-controlled water bottle with chardonnay. This was chilled-white-wine weather if there ever was any. These thoughts were interrupted by a rustling in the wooded area behind me. A young man wearing an American flag as a strapless dress aimlessly tore through the brush, maniacally splitting the narrow trunks of still-growing trees in half with his bare hands.

In the memoir essay I was reading at the time, Chelsea Handler recounted an unconventional incident at a London restaurant and wondered how she got herself into one bizarre scenario after another. Every now and then I ask myself the same question, even when the out-of-the-ordinary situation is as minor as an extremely unexpected close encounter with a patriotic, cross-dressing tree-mugger. I don’t know how she ends up falling into her shitpits, but I’m now starting to understand the anatomy of how I swan dive into some of mine. I set up the chair in one of the more seemingly private sections of the park, in keeping with my usual strategy of going out of my way to avoid crowds or main drags or formally organized hoopla. And it’s these off-the-well-beaten-path patches that are more likely to breed the silly scenes. The fewer the people, the fewer the inhibitions, the funnier the follies.


  1. I think you figured it out very well--the off-the-well-beaten-path patches breed the silly scenes. And sometimes the most fun scenes.

  2. You're so jaded that you think a close encounter with a patriotic, cross-dressing tree-mugger is a minor event! I'd think that I was going to be ripped down the middle next!

  3. Milagros is right! You surely know how to describe situations so vividly that I feel as if I am sitting in my $10 canvas chair parked next to yours. Thanks for the laughter.

  4. You do have strange encounters. I think you are a magnet for the news of the weird, and I love that you can poetically bring it to life with words. I love reading the blog. Keep up the excellent work!