Dear Girls in Pretty Dresses in the Purple Car in the Parking Spot on St. Patrick Street:
—Which as we know is right around the corner from the Art Gallery of Ontario, which is where I’m heading to see Picasso and which is why I covet your spot and am beyond thrilled when, as I’m circling the block, I see you and a friend get into your car. Oh joy! I think as I slow down, pull over behind you and wait a few moments for you to pull out.
But, dear girls, you don’t pull out, do you?
What you do is put the top down on your purple car which turns out to be a convertible so that now I have a clear view of the back of your pony-tailed heads as you sit… SIT…!! there.
Minutes and minutes go by. And you continue to sit.
Dear girls, I’m writing for two reasons. One, to tell you that it’s just about this time that I find myself saying some very bad words in your direction. Out loud. But you can’t hear. Unlike you, I don’t drive a shiny new purple convertible, but a well-loved tan Toyota with an Obus form in the driver’s seat and a bit of rust around the wheel wells. On top of that, my windows are closed. But rest assured the words are said.
Because, dear girls, what kind of idiot sits in a parked car when someone is clearly waiting behind you for that spot. I mean, for god’s sake, if you’re leaving, leave!
After a few more minutes it occurs to me that there might be some problem that prevents you from leaving so I get out of my car and approach yours and see that the problem is that you and your friend are having lunch. Pad Thai by the looks of it.
Hello, I say.
Hello, you say.
I don’t mean to rush you, but after you eat, will you be leaving?
(At this point I detect an accent, can’t quite place it… central Europe somewhere.)
Yes, I say, you, your car.
You say yes, after you eat, you will be leaving.
I can’t believe I ask, but I do. How long do you think that might be?
You consider this quite seriously and say, ten minutes? like it’s a question.
I say, great, I’ll wait. (Does this give you some idea of how precious a parking spot is in this neck of the woods?)
I try to read but I keep looking up. I feel the need to stay alert in case you start the engine and someone else sidles up, expecting to move in. I have to stay vigilant.
I can tell by the way your heads are moving that you aren’t rushing. You’re chatting and having a splendid time and why shouldn’t you in your dresses and hair and youth and noodles and European accents? You’ve paid for the space, why not have a picnic?
I say more bad words about out of towners and Central Europe. [Which is ironic given that I, myself, live out of town and my parents are from Central Europe.]
Almost exactly ten minutes later you open your door, walk over to my car and in your accent, which I now recognize as something like German or Swiss, you tell me you have an unused ticket for Picasso if I’d like it. I say I’ve already got a ticket, but thank you. I don’t mention it but the ticket you have isn’t valid anyway, as it was only good for entry between one and two p.m. We discuss the exhibit and your Pad Thai and I say I hope you didn’t eat quickly on my account and you say no, you didn’t. I’m oddly relieved. You tell me you’re off to somewhere-somewhere next; I have no idea what you’ve said and don’t ask for clarification… the point being you require sustenance, which, you explain, is why you had to eat before setting out. You laugh as though any fool would agree one must never go to somewhere-somewhere on an empty stomach. And of course I laugh too.
We bid one another a fond farewell. Really quite fond.
And then you are off at last in your purple convertible and pony-tails to somewhere-somewhere. I hope, dear girls, it’s all that you hoped it would be.
I just wanted you to know how the story ended.