Monday, April 08, 2002

I like to believe I have superpowers. Specifically, the ability to make things happen just by thinking it. That's right... with my MIND.

All kids have this ability. It reaches its peak around age 5 or 6, when they discover that if they think about it hard enough, they can get mom to drop a steaming tuna noodle casserole on the kitchen linoleum, thereby necessitating a call to the local Pizza Hut.

It has its down side, of course. A few relatives have been killed. I heard that several kids recently claimed responsibility for the WTC attack. And Jimmy McCusker broke his arm in a fall from the monkey bars after he spat at Emily Stevens. (She felt so bad that she offered to eat the mushy apple his mom packed him for lunch.)

So yesterday, I spent most of the morning glaring out the window at a white sports car parked on my grass.

Technically it's not my grass. It belongs to all of us here at the apartment complex. It's there for everyone's enjoyment. All neighborhood children may frolic on it. All dogs may sniff it. All critters may crawl on it. Cars may not park on it.

Especially sports cars. Which, when parked on grass, imply that their owners possess certain qualities of excess, self-centeredness, and general jerkishness.

I glared at that damn car and wished for something bad to happen to it. I left it open-ended like that. Ground could swallow it up, monster truck could crush it, whatever.

Imagine my glee when I looked out the window hours later and saw that Officer Friendly had left a little present under sports car's windshield wiper! A ticket! I sliently gloated and cheered. I kept peeking out the window to try and catch the moment when Jerk-Person would come out to the car and discover just where this life of grass-parking had led. There would be much cursing, repenting, and gnashing of teeth.

I didn't have to wait long. The owner -- a woman -- came out of a nearby unit and started unloading clothes from the back seat. Didn't notice the ticket yet. Hee hee! I watched out the window like a scene from an Alfred Hitchcock movie. She came back, this time loading stuff into it. Still didn't notice it.

Then, she made her final trip out to the car. Carrying a baby in a carseat.

Oh no. No. You're supposed to be a self-centered jerk, deserving of a ticket. Don't be a mom with a baby. Don't tell me you parked on the grass because you had to carry a baby in from the car.

She fastened the baby securely into the back seat. She walked around to the driver's side with a diaper bag. She sat in the car and checked to be sure she had everything packed. Started the car. Noticed the ticket.

Damn it. She's probably a single mom, too. That car was probably the only thing she got out of the divorce settlement from her deadbeat, abusive ex. She probably works two part time jobs and doesn't have health insurance or paid vacation. She probably parked on the grass because jerks with SUVs and their jerk friends with SUVs had taken all the available parking on this side of the street.

There was no cursing or gnashing of teeth. Just something in the quiet way she held the ticket and stared at it suggested that this $50 fine would mean leaky store-brand diapers for the baby instead of Huggies.

Damn it. Now I know how Emily Stevens felt...

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