ONE OF THESE DAYS YOU’RE GONNA FALL
This parking ticket has been staring me in the face for two weeks. Sometimes I go to the bathroom, and it’s already in there, waiting on the edge of the sink. I’m tempted to flick it right on its “Save a stamp, pay online” corner. I suspect that part’s its eye. I’ve already tried to drown it. It’s still here. For paper, it’s oddly resilient.
I flick the parking ticket anyway. It wobbles on the side of my bathroom sink. If it had arms, they’d be outstretched and moving in small circles, the way cartoon characters do right before they fall off a cliff/mountain/rooftop/kitchen table. The parking ticket kerplunks into the sink. For a millisecond I feel bad. You would understand if you saw my bathroom sink—entities that are destined for hell wind up in a place significantly cleaner than my bathroom sink.
By the time I get to the kitchen—it’s quite a way, there’s the winding staircase, the long corridors with oil paintings of old men in white wigs and lots of women with corsets (this wasn’t my idea, I hired a “house stylist” in the ‘70s,when that was the thing to do, and, stupidly, I was completely unnerved by his ability to turn my name into homonyms, and I fell madly in love and let him have his way with the east wing. I know, I know, when will I learn? (You should see the stables—not my proudest moment.) And then there’s the courtyard with the cobblestones and I don’t mind saying, that’s a real pain to run across with diamond shoes and of course, there’s that long stretch of moving sidewalk through the west wing and the next time I say I am in a “techy phase,” shoot me).
Finally, I was in the kitchen. And who’s already there? The parking ticket. This jerk won’t die, man. One thing’s confirmed at this point, though—the “Save a stamp, pay online” square is, indeed, his eye. I walk casually to the “stove.” I’m not quite sure how to use this contraption. I was told in order for this room to qualify as a “kitchen,” it had to have a “stove.” Zoning regs, I guess. I just come here because this is where the wine is. Usually red, in crystal goblets.
I pull a crystal goblet to my lips and as I do, I glare across the room at the parking ticket. And suddenly, we have this connection. It’s like out of that movie about the two football dudes who grow up together and go pro and one of them gets Lou Gehrig’s disease and dies and the other one goes back to college where he meets this amazingly brash, independent woman and ohmygod! the greatest love EVER, but then he goes to the army and she becomes a hippy and they get into political fights and break up and then one day they see each other from across the street at a pro-war/anti-war rally and they have this connective stare that binds them together forever because they will always be The One That Got Away to each other and then I think Earth is attacked by aliens and the film ran over budget so they ended it there.
Anyway, that’s the kind of stare I had across my enormous kitchen with the parking ticket. I move away from the “stove.”
I teleport to my movie theater in the basement, next to the wine cellar. You are correct. The parking ticket beats me there. “This is getting creepy,” I tell it.
“You’re telling me. Usually people pay after they meet me in their bathroom,” he says.
He has this way of twitching his right corner that is somewhat endearing.
“Wussies,” I say.
“Yeah, it’s a bit of a bully game, really.”
“There’s something I can’t quite reconcile about the cops issuing tickets on machines owned by a private company,” I admit.
Parking ticket says, “Home of the mandatory wrought-iron fence. Home of the overnight-disappeared airport.”
“Righto,” I say. And then, “I still call it Comiskey.”
“I still call it Marshall Field’s.”
“I have dial-up internet connection.”
“Pay me on Tuesday.”