On what was likely the first nice day of the year, I decided to work from home. Actually, I decided that the day before, since there were a couple of important chores to attend to prior to leaving for our Alpine skiing trip. The nice weather was purely coincidental.
That was not the last of coincidences, though. On this same day, my laptop decided that it is not going to allow me to properly connect to the corporate network remotely. I spent about an hour tinkering with it, but finally gave up, used my Blackberry to announce to one or two people who cared that I was converting the day into a day-off, and allowed myself to marvel at how circumstances conspired to force me to enjoy the nice weather.
So when Natasha asked “Do you want to go have lunch in Blackheath?”, I gladly agreed.
The village is awfully nice at this time on a sunny day. The wide expanse of the heath on its northern edge is an unadorned open space unlike anything you’d see in a dense suburban area, and it literally magnifies the brightness of the day, with the local church emphatically piercing the blue skies with its spire.
The central part of the village is just a few hundred meters in diameter, packed with restaurants and quaint little shops. Aside from the rush hours, it is comparatively non-bustling, nonetheless. And in the middle of a work-week day, it is positively sleepy, even though automotive traffic remains more than trickling.
One problem, though, is the car parking. Once the train station’s lot fills up with commuters, the mid-day visitors find the task of locating an available parking spot a question of luck. Our luck held in that we found a vacant spot on one of the severely sloping side streets. It was a fairly small spot for my bigger-than-average car, and I had to draw on my Brooklyn-honed skills for squeezing it in while making the cars ahead and behind me move a little. It turned out that the owner of the car in the back was watching from across the road.
“Do you know that you touched me?” inquired he with just the right dose of disdain.
“I couldn’t have.”
“Yes, you did.”
“Impossible. My car gives different audible warnings depending on how close I am to obstructions, and there was no sound to indicate that I was anywhere close to touching your car.” There was, in fact, I just chose to ignore it.
By the look of it, the most technology that the other car could have had was a working radio, so my opponent was in serious need of a counter-argument.
“Look here”, he pointed to a clean smudge on his otherwise uniformly dirty bumper and rubbed it for emphasis.
“I’m sure it was there before”, Natasha jumped in.
So outnumbered, the guy muttered something about having to be more careful – “… it’s a good thing you didn’t damage anything…” – gave us a curt nod and walked away. That not a single f-bomb exploded in the air only underscored how far from Brooklyn we were.
It only occurs to me now, as I write this, that in Brooklyn I should have seriously considered moving the car a block or two after such confrontation. For my own peace of mind. No such thought occurred to either Natasha or me on the spot, though. And there was no need. Blackheath is much too refined for something untoward to happen to a parked car in the middle of the day. That is, more untoward than being nudged by other parallel-parking cars.
The rest of the excursion progressed without incidents. We had nice lunch at a brewery/restaurant that we never visited before. I couldn’t resist a pint with my bowl of mussels, while Natasha had a spicy chicken ciabatta. We then relocated to a coffeeshop several doors down, where my wife indulged in some sweets and coffee. We strolled about the village for a little while, checked out a store or two, and then it was time to pick up the kids from school…