Wow. I said it. Right there in the title of this blog post. A headline. Wasn't as hard as I thought.
Neither was getting out of our car yesterday after I'd mangled my first attempt at getting into a fairly tight parking space on a cross-street between LIberty and Commercial, conveniently near the Salem Art Fair in Bush Park.
"There's a spot!" my passenger-seated wife had yelled out a minute or so before.
"I think it's too small," I told her, not entirely accurately. Because actually what had gone through my mind as I glanced at the size of the parking space between two cars was, That's going to be tough for me to parallel park in.
Because I still have some lingering needs to assert my manly parking skills, notwithstanding the bold honesty of this blog post, I want to point out that in my lengthy parking career I've successfully parallel parked countless times, beginning at age 16 with the dreaded driver's test exam.
Parallel parking was what scared us learner's permit holders the most.
Friends a bit older than me had shared horror stories of hitting cones, or whatever, while taking the parking portion of their driver's test, thereby setting back a few weeks their acquisition of a coveted license.
My mother, a divorcee, owned a 57' VW bug though. I breezed through the parking portion of the test. Back in 1964 lots of American cars were giant, so fitting a Volkswagen into a space suitable for one of them was pretty damn easy.
Over the years I can remember some parallel parking triumphs that merit a Gold Medal. Like finding a miniscule space after driving around with my wife and some friends for what seemed like eons in the NW 23rd Street neighborhood of Portland, where parking spaces are as rare as right-wing Republicans.
I'd stopped next to the car in front of the space, preparing to back into it. Another parking space-seeking car was close behind me, the driver undoubtedly thinking "I'll grab this spot after that gray-haired geezer gives up on it."
The parking space was small. I had a parallel parking audience. I felt the pressure from the driver behind me (could almost hear baseball'ish taunting coming from him, Hey driver, hey driver, no way you're going to fit, no way, hey driver!)
But I did. First try.
I strutted out of the car and admired my handiwork. Tires even against the curb, about a inch from it. Our car also was evenly spaced between the vehicles ahead and behind. Just a foot or so separated our front and rear bumpers.
I felt like a freaking parallel parking star. This was before the days of smart phones, or I would have taken a photo of my amazing accomplishment.
Way different from how I felt yesterday upon ending up at an embarassingly unparallel angle after making my first attempt at getting into the space.
I'd started way too far out from the car in front. We'd taken our month old Chevy Volt, which my wife has come to love hugely more than the detested Nissan Leaf we'd owned before. The Volt basically is Her Car. I usually drive my equally beloved Mini Cooper, which is a lot smaller and has much better rear visibility.
OK, Brian. Enough excuses. Get to the point.
I'm trying. It's just tough... my self-esteem... the Internet is so public... everyone will know... got to just SAY IT.
My wife looked at me and asked, "Do you want me to park the car? I'm good at parallel parking."
Compared to who? my male mind began to scream.
But I already knew the answer. As would anyone who drove down the side street, seeing me stuck at that horribly awkward angle neither in nor out of the parking space, blatantly obstructing any traffic that soon was almost certainly going to come along.
Rapidly assessing my options, I decided it'd be best to show my sensitive, egoless, feminist-supporting side. Or at least, pretend to show it.
"Sure," I told Laurel. "Give it a try."
I put the car in park, jumped out of the driver's seat, and stood on the grass next to the curb, doing my best to look like I was helping my wife parallel park, as a dutiful husband would if she was driving and needed some assistance getting into a small spot.
It was difficult to keep up that look, though, because Laurel smoothly pulled up close to the car ahead, started to back up, then turned the wheel sharply just as her front tire got to the rear tire of the other car, angling expertly into the parking space on her first try.
Textbook parallel parking.
To support the shaky cover story of why I was standing on the sidewalk while my wife parked the car, I yelled out a few unnecessary comments. "You've got plenty of room. Keep going back. Still got a foot or so. OK, stop!"
It was a beautiful display of parallel parking. After we finished walking around the Art Fair and got back to the car, I told Laurel, "You drive." She deserved the honor for the rest of the day. (I usually drive, parallel parking being a rare event in the places we usually visit.)
Today, thankfully, was another day.
My wife had struggled to balance her credit union checkbook and finally given up. I told her, "No problem. I'll handle it." Which I did. I'm a checkbook balancing genius. Parallel parking, not so much.