Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Simca in the city.

We had out-of-town guests in this weekend, Jewish, and that means the almost obligatory journey down to Katz’s on East Houston Street.

For whatever reason, primarily I suppose because I have unmatched New York City parking karma, we decided, the five of us to fire up my 1966 Simca 1500 and drive down to the legendary deli.

“George will find a parking space,” my ever-loving offered. “He’s amazing, the Michelangelo of municipal meters." Feeling more pressure than I like on a three-day weekend, I shot her a glance. “No, seriously,” she continued, “George’s knack is uncanny.”

Our guests looked doubtful. The last time someone had found a parking space in Manhattan was sometime in 1963, months before Kennedy was killed. How could I possibly find one on the Lower East Side, around a place as crowded at Katz’s.

“Is it true?” our guests asked.

I looked down at my feet, self-effacing like the strong-man in the circus about to ring the bell.

“I’m pretty good,” I admitted. “Today’s a holiday. We’ll see how it goes.”

I steered the car down the FDR and exited on Houston, heading West on the broad avenue. One of my guests saw Katz’s across the street.

“There it is,” he said.

I down-shifted into second and darted right onto East First Street which runs alongside Houston just north of Peretz Square.

We pulled up to a van, and I quickly parallel parked into a perfect spot fewer than 100 yards from the Mecca of pastrami. I fed the meter and within minutes we were within the friendly confines.  

In short order, we navigated the lines at Katz’s and laden with pastrami, corned beef and Dr. Brown’s cream sodas, we settled into a table my wife had somehow secured.

One hour later, after we had each gained about a dozen pounds, my wife had the idea to show our out-of-towners the High Line.

“It’s no problem,” she blustered. “George will find a spot.”

I shot her another look. Finding a space around Gansevoort Street is like finding a Republican who believes ‘all men are created equal.’ Or, worse, that women deserve equal pay.

In any event, I eased the Simca down 12th Street and headed south past thousands of orange and white construction barriers running toward the start of the High Line. In just seconds, I slid in behind a white SUV the size of a mastodon, and the Simca shut off with a cough and then another.

I hustled up the block and tried to decipher the parking regulations written on the white and red sign. They might as well have been written in Cuneiform, but given that there was a meter there, I inserted my credit card and got a little ticket, good for two hours, to park literally spitting distance from the grooved metal stairs that lead up to the elevated park.

"How did you do that?" one of our guests asked. 

"Do what," I non-chalanted.

"The space, at both Katz's and here?"

"There's a thing in New York," I said. "It's called parking karma. You get it when you swerve to avoid hitting people, when you lay off the horn in hospital zones, but mostly when you tip cab-drivers well. Acting like a human, in other words, gives order to the universe."

We strolled, in the frigid air the High Line.

As I would have assumed, my Simca was still there when we returned an hour later.

Parking karma. 

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