Part I. Give Up.
When tax season rolled around this past April, I hadn’t accurately calculated just how much I would owe New York State – a financially ruinous oversight. Between Federal, State, and 1st quarter taxes, I owed a total of $7,500. I had to borrow money from my parents, something I found hugely emasculating, a use of the word my parents insist is incorrect. “You’re not masculine,” they protest. “It’s 2019, I’m as emasculated as I say I am,” I say, glaring, with sweaty fistfulls full of their stupid, stupid Baby Boomer money. My lawyer-dad drafted up a loan agreement with intimidating sentences like:
Any payment otherwise due from LENDER but not received by BORROWER by the tenth (10th) of the month in which it was first due shall be in default. Any payment in default and not paid by the twenty eighth (28th) day of the month in which it was first due shall be an Event of Default. Upon an Event of Default, LENDER may at any time thereafter call the Loan immediately due and payable, which shall be LENDER’s sole recourse.
And yet, in person he amended the document, saying, “You’re an idiot if you actually pay any of that back.” But Daddy’s little #girlboss was deeply ashamed of her empty bank account and felt that on some level she had let down #girlbosses everywhere – thank God I didn’t have any #girlemployees and didn’t need to file for #girlbankruptcy. In order to start making payments, I sold my car, which I didn’t need, and was largely a nuisance.
At first, having a car in Brooklyn makes you feel like a star, and all the attention can cloud your judgement. I found myself driving new “friends” to the beach more than once. “This is SO New York,” they said, getting into my car. “Convincing some rando to drive us to the beach.” I regularly received texts from people asking to borrow my car, people from whom I didn’t hear much otherwise. Do they want me for me, or just the plush luxury of my 2005 Toyota Camry? It was hard to say. I almost always let them take it, as it relieved me of the responsibility of actually finding a parking place, which is impossible.
For any new arrivals, I have accumulated some wisdom about driving and parking in Brooklyn, and I want to pass it on to you. Also, keep in mind that New York State income taxes range from 4 percent to 8.82 percent, depending on your income.
Part II. Where and How To Park (with Map)
Please note, this section is entitled, “How to Park,” and not “How to Live Forever.” Parking in Brooklyn means being prepared, at any moment, for armed conflict. My first parking fight happened just a few months after I moved to Bushwick. I had my car ready to slide into a spot located a super-convenient, nearly full mile from my apartment when a portly man in a tank top – some might say “wife beater,” although that isn’t really fair to tank tops – howled at me from deep in the recesses of his very thick neck: “Hey! Hey! I need to park there!”
“Keep it together, Kendrick,” I thought to myself, years of bootcamp workout videos on YouTube kicking in. I resolved to hold my ground. Seeing my hesitation, he added, “I’m going out of town! I have to park there!” I rolled down my window and asked, “Isn’t there room for both of us?” He considered for a moment, and then a lightning bolt of inspiration struck him: “If you move up a little more, we could both fit,” he offered. Impressed by the brilliance of his own original idea, he explained exactly how I could maneuver my car – he must have a background in engineering or something – so that we could, follow me here – both park our cars in the absolutely enormous space.
As I locked my doors, I said, “Have a nice trip!” in my best Southern Baptist voice. He just stared back at me, his eyes rightfully suspicious, the wind sapped from his bloated sails. Brooklynites love a toothsome retort, but they’re startled into silence by the fake-niceties that are standard in the rest of the country. Although to be fair, he may not have heard me. Unlike most locals, I speak at a decibel easily drowned out by the hurtle of subway cars, sirens, blaring stereos, and the mysterious growls emanating from the sewers.
If you’re planning to park in Bushwick any time soon, I have good news for you: I have identified the lone space that’s almost always available.
The sidewalk here is badly damaged and it’s right next to a graveyard. Once, I parked here late at night, and as I walked home, a man walking about a block ahead of me cocked his head when he heard the click of my heels — he could tell from my footsteps that my feet were attached to legs stemming from a torso that probably featured breasts. I crossed the street, and so did he. I crossed the street again and he followed suit, hissing at me between his teeth. We kept this up for a couple of blocks, until I ducked into a bodega, where I ordered a hot cup of tea that I planned to throw in his face if he kept it up. (Lucky for him, he moved on with his life. Who knows, maybe he was wise to the tea trick.) This space is still the best option, as long as you aren’t, as I said at the top, consumed with the idea that you simply must die of natural causes.
Parking in Brooklyn is a clumsy dance of unspoken rules and neighborly rancor. New York City has street sweepers, and every street has a sign with a timeframe when cars can’t park, to give the bristles a chance to scrape the sidewalk’s gums. These timeframes are mostly inconvenient, often falling in the morning and afternoon. And yet, every day, drivers pile into their cars and move them to the opposite side of the street, blocking in a row of cars whose owners hopefully don’t have anywhere to be..
You might be thinking: Don’t these people have 9 to 5 jobs? How do they have time to move their cars? Regular hours of employment are less common in these parts – Brooklyn, as you may have heard, is lousy with bartenders, Uber drivers, trust fund adult babies, and #bossbabes such as myself. What if someone comes to their car and wants to drive away? What a reasonable question. You must be from out of town.
I posed this question on a community website called Nextdoor, asking if anyone had ever gotten a ticket for this type of double parking. The ensuing imbroglio sums up nicely the simmering tension that characterizes anything to do with drivers in NYC – Brooklyn has its own set of unspoken parking rules that aren’t officially codified, but widely followed nevertheless.
This is technically incorrect, and the NYC parking info website states that this type of double parking is illegal and ticket-worthy. I even Tweeted at them to confirm (if any editors are looking for a top-tier investigative journalist, I AM AVAILABLE FOR HIRE.)
And yet, no one who commented on the post had ever gotten a ticket, in spite of regularly relying on this method. There were, however, reports of trapped cars:
The debate soon took a turn for the sassy, as I knew it would:
Uh-oh, here it comes:
Even when I’m emotionally prepared for it, it still gets me – “um,” the English-language equivalent of a brandished rapier.
Combativeness doesn’t end with parking. In the next section, we’ll cover what to do when you find a car stopped in a no-stopping area. “Just go around”? Grow some balls, even if you’re a woman (or any other category of non-man). Most importantly, don’t just go around. You’re a strong and powerful #babegirl #bosslady, no matter how much money you had to borrow from your parents earlier this year. People here are very tough, and being tough means always having something to prove.
Part III. Passing a Stopped Vehicle in Brooklyn in Six Fucking Steps
Honk (with feeling – fortissimo, as they say in Italian opera)
Now it’s time for the other driver to yell, “Fuck you! Go around me!”
Then you respond, “Fuck you! Go fuck yourself”
Next comes the merry rejoinder: “Yeah? Suck my dick! “
Give the finger as you go around them, keeping your hand extended out of the window for at least a mile, so they know you mean it.
Part IV. How to Talk to Your Lyft Driver (About Dicks)
Since ditching my car, I’m usually consumed by an internal battle about how often to take a Lyft. (Never Uber – Did you know that the founder has started calling himself “T-Bone,” and that’s not even close to his darkest PR moment?) Recently, I summoned a Lyft for myself and my friend Katie, and when our chariot arrived, I noticed a blue wad of chewed gum stuck to the passenger door. “So sorry to say this,” I told the driver. “But there’s a wad of chewing gum stuck to your door.”
Our driver sighed. “Well, that’s not the worst thing. I’ve been dickslapped twice this week,” she replied. Her name was Evangelina, and her ash-blond, ramen-noodle hair reminded me of a mermaid, if mermaids surfaced every hour to smoke cigarettes. I asked her to elaborate (viz a viz: the dickslapping). She explained that for whatever reason – the whiteness of her sedan, the trashy, sticky cloy of a Brooklyn summer evening – on two recent occasions, a man approached her vehicle, brandished his penis, and mashed it furtively against her window.
After the first incident, she went to a car wash to remove the traces of the crime, but her efforts were for naught. The very next day another pervert approached her car and, in Evangelina’s words, started “slobbering his dick all over my window.” At this point, she had a passenger, who exclaimed, "“What is that?” “It’s a dick! It’s a dick!” Evangelina replied. “I had to kind of laugh. What do you think it is, man? The Easter bunny?”
This second penis (penisimo segundo, as they say in Italian) “actually left a dick print on the window.” I asked if she had taken a picture of it, so she could identify the perp in a line-up. She didn’t take a picture, but –“I could have definitely taken a swab – there was more than enough DNA on that shit, in both cases.”
Katie commiserated, saying that in D.C., she had once seen a uniformed Metro employee masturbating out in the open. She painted vivid picture – the year was 2010, and she was in a 4000-series Metro car, “surrounded by stinky carpeting and Hooters-orange vinyl seats,” traveling between Wheaton and Glenmont (if you’re not from the DC-area, those are both averagely disgusting suburbs).
Worried I would never get any attention ever again as long as I lived, I mentioned that there is a homeless woman who regularly sprawls in front of my co-working space, visibly masturbating, in full daylight. A silence fell. It’s always this way: Men jerking off is a little bit funny – especially as told by Evangelina, a tough cookie – while women doing the same is unspeakably grim. Evangelina said, “A woman? Jesus Christ. Women need so much space.” Yet, according to this article in Daily News, men who masturbate in public are also suffering from a mental illness, and their oh-so brief stints in jail aren’t doing much to help. This type of crime is on the rise, and while concentrated on the subways, not even the relative privacy of Lyft can save us.
When Evangelina dropped us off, we resisted the urge to beg her to come with us and teach us more about the world. A car appeared behind us and honked as we said our goodbyes. “Fuck you, go around me!” Evangelina yelled – an inspiration to us all. She has what it takes, and — dare I say it? It takes huge balls to be a girl, a boss, a babe, a lady in the streets, a freak, perhaps also in the streets — and, um, I’ll kick your ass you if you try to tell me any different.