Last week I had a George moment, which is rare for me. Aside from the fact that I prefer to think of myself as more of an Elaine, I also tend to be more of a Friends girl than a Seinfeld one. Though I watched both shows religiously, I must admit that no tears were shed when the cell door slammed shut on Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer. In contrast, the night that Rachel ditched her flight to Paris and showed up at Ross’s door, in an absolutely perfect culmination of ten years of relationship angst, was a sob-fest at my house. On a sorrow-scale of one to ten; one being sniffling over a Hallmark commercial (hey – it happens, the lonely old lady whose face lights up after reading a card from her neighbor kills me every time) and ten being the time I cried so hard while watching Finding Neverland that I vomited (in my defense I was about six months pregnant and teeming with crazy hormones and weird morning/all-day-long sickness), the Friends finale was a solid eight. Even now, almost seven years later, I have one to two Friends flashbacks a week. When I come down with a cold, the first thing I do is sing “Sticky Shoes” in my best sultry Phoebe voice, and I often end arguments by saying “It’s a moo point. It’s a cow’s opinion. It’s moo.” (If there had been a debate team at my high school, I would not have been on it.) Last week, while window shopping in Geneva I saw what looked a lot like an apothecary table from the days of yore, and every single time I move a large piece of furniture through a narrow stairwell/hallway I am consumed with the urge to scream “PIVOT!” at the top of my lungs, and nine times out of ten I succumb to the urge. (This scenario played itself out recently when trying to haul our large Thule roof box up our teeny, tiny European staircase.)
Enough with the Friends memories, this is all about the George in me. It happened on the way home from a well deserved night out with some friends. We met in Geneva to forage for fondue in the big city, celebrate a belated birthday, and luxuriate in a meal without crayons, crackers, and be-wheeled toys careening across the table. Mission accomplished. We shared some delicious fondue, even more delicious wine, and lots of laughs. The only wrinkle in the night came after we left the restaurant and located our car, which, due to insane amounts of traffic we had parked in the bowels of a hotel parking garage. Apparently the very same night we were enjoying our simple ladies dinner, the Genevois Glitterati (including Gwyneth, hot off her SNL gig, who I was on the lookout for all night long) were out on the town for a ritzy watch convention. First of all, I really think Gwynnie would have had a much better time kicking it mom’s night out style with a cheese laden fondue stick in one hand and wine glass in the other than hobnobbing with a bunch of snooty Swiss watchmakers, and second of all, I had no idea that watch conventions drew such large crowds. The parking garage was packed to the gills, like a showroom crammed with shiny, high-priced automobiles. We were thrilled to find a spot that was large enough to fit our car, and we didn’t think much of the fact that we had been forced to park so close to a concrete wall that my friend had to slide out the passenger side. At least we weren’t in danger of dinging any Jaguars.
When we returned to the car after dinner, I thought it had to be a joke. Some moron with a tiny, little Euro car had squeezed himself into the space (and I use that term loosely) next to ours. I actually looked around for a hidden camera. The cars were so close together that none of the doors would open. We could get the driver’s door cracked just wide enough to slip our purses through. No one, not even Gwynnie (who let’s face it, with those vegan tendencies would never join me in a cheese eating extravaganza) could have squeezed into the front seat of that car. And the jerk who parked next to us? There is no way that he was able to exit his auto in a dignified manner. You can bet that he had to slink out of his tailgate. Staring at our car sandwiched up against the diminutive hatchback, I could feel the warm, blissful glow that comes from spending time away from my children start to wither and die. It was replaced by blind Costanza-like rage for the offensive driver who callously squished his car into a too-small space, much like the way I try to squeeze myself into my pre-pregnancy jeans. Well, you know what dude? I know better than to leave the house with my circa 2006 jeans on, and you should have known better than to park in two tired mamas who were just trying to enjoy a night out on the town.
In true George fashion (and fueled by a nice Swiss Chasselas) I stomped my feet, shook my fists, and whined at the unfairness of our situation. What kind of person would park like this? How were we ever going to get home? Would we be stuck in the parking garage until the jerk who parked us in deigned to return to his car? Luckily, my much calmer, Jerry-like friend, assessed the situation and noticed that we could wedge the door to the back seat open just wide enough for even a non-Gwynnie-sized person to squeeze through. So lamenting the fact that I had taken those extra swipes of fondue, I made myself as flat as possible and shimmied my way into the car. In all honesty, the path to freedom was not as tight as I thought it was going to be, but this did not quell my anger. I demanded that we leave the imbecile a note. I could not imagine exiting the garage without unleashing my fury in witty, piercing prose. I procured a pen and an old receipt and readied myself to write the most cleverly insulting note in my literary history. But, in that moment, with emotions running high, I pulled a George. When faced with grave malfeasance and a chance to right a wrong, I choked. Like George in the meeting room at Yankee Stadium, who when insulted by a colleague is struck dumb and unable to muster a comeback, I was left mute in the parking garage.
I finally mustered up a half-hearted note, the contents of which I cannot really remember, but definitely included the words “How rude!” (which is way more Stephanie Tanner than Costanza) and “Learn how to park!” and stuck it under the offending driver’s windshield wiper. The note was a weak, awkward expression of my true feelings, and I shudder with embarrassment every time I think about it. In homage to George I should have at least written “The parking store called and they want their spot back,” which I admit makes no sense, but here I am, two weeks later, still searching for the perfect comeback.