East Nashville, I try to keep my finger on the pulse of our fair burg. I am always on the lookout for an astute observation to share with you, but I never know where the inspiration will come from. This particular one gobsmacked me right on Forrest Avenue.
Parallel parking is the erectile dysfunction of East Nashville roadways. Whoa! Have I gone too far, too inflammatory? Quite the opposite, I say. Downright deflating in fact. Please allow me to explain.
On a recent Wednesday, I had the pleasure of playing a gig with the great Kevn Kinney and the most certainly inflammatory punk rock poet, Lydia Lunch. It was one of those early gigs at The 5 Spot, a brilliant time slot and subsequently a great gig.
With my upright bass seated next to me in the Lincoln land yacht, aptly christened Frank Sinatra Junior, I trolled the streets looking for a parking spot. Nary a one to be found in the library lot, I piloted Junior down the alley around back of the club. Nothing. I noticed the newly minted and ubiquitous NO PARKING signs. They accusingly informed me of 24-hour reserved parking for this or that business, ONLY. “Since when is a tax place open 24 hours a day,” I wondered. With visions of impound lots and an emptied wallet skittering through my head, I reversed course and headed back around to Forrest Avenue.
My progress was impeded by a parade of beards and ankle boots. I felt my blood pressure begin to rise. A few beads of sweat dotted my brow. Frank’s clock read two minutes till six. I was running late, nervously scanning left and right, back and forth, to and fro. Where are you, parking space? Let me in!
And there it was, a bit of dark asphalt winking at me from between a Prius and a flashy motor scooter. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, Buddha! Thank you, Ralph Nader!
I passed the spot slowly and stopped Frank’s advance midway up alongside the Prius. I announced my intentions with the click of a turn signal. Reverse now. Steady now. Oh yeah, bring it on home.
Except I didn’t bring it home. My technique was faulty. I wasn’t steady, I was nervous, I was distracted, I was thinking about the gig and the songs. The boat was big, and the dock was small. Plus, I had a bad angle. “Don’t panic, you’ve got this,” I said to myself, as I began my next attempt.
It was at that moment that I caught sight of the line of cars stacking up impatiently behind me. I waved them around. “I am the captain of this vessel! OK, back it up, nice and slow, take it easy, cut the wheel. … Damn it, I can’t get no satisfaction!”
I was failing. Behind me, a hipster honked his horn. The guy selling The Contributor just shook his head and looked away. I felt doubt. I felt shame. “Stop watching me! Give me a minute! I can’t do it like this! Can somebody turn off the lights?” The above story is true. It happened to me. It can happen to you. Parallel parking performance anxiety is a problem. Talk to your doctor … .
All right, I think I have pushed this metaphor far enough. Or have I?
Uber, Lyft, taxis — these are the little blue pill of the parking world. Good for a quick fix in a pinch, but we need a cure. The cure is public transportation. Are you with me, East Nashville? Let’s bring the trolleys back. Let’s run more frequent bus routes. How about park-and-rides and bike racks? Can I get an Amen?
Until next time, I’ll see you around the neighborhood. I’ll be the guy trying to drop anchor on a parking spot. Land ho!