Thursday, July 25, 2002

Okay, I don't know what's going on with my template4 here that the words no longer form nice, not stupidly long sentences. Sorrry about that. I'm working on it. Any thoughts on why this is happening, computer gurus? :)

I have reached a new level of self-acceptance for my idiosyncrasies. I have to, or I just may drive myself to the point of Insanity. IF I can find my car to drive myself there. Sigh…More on that in a minute. I guess I should be embarrassed. And yet, these stories are too damn funny not to share with you….

Before I start, you know, it's funny; I have really gotten into reading books lately by and about Idiosyncratic (read: Neurotic) Women. I suppose this trend in the publishing business got started with the success of the Bridget Jones books, who, as Fabulous College Roommate British Jo said as she handed me the book, "Bridget is mad… in the way that we are all a little mad." As Jo is the roommate who got freaked out with me at 3 a.m. (we shared a big bedroom at this point) because we decided the big, white Japanese lantern (a la Urban Outfitters) looked like a giant floating skull and the hat rack (a.k.a Scary Hat Rack Man) where we hung our bath towels looked like a Demon from Hell (although, in our defense, there WAS a hat resting on the top of it near the top level of curlicues that DID give the hat rack a decidedly underwordly appearance when the lights were off) to the point where we started screaming and ended up convincing each other there was a murderer in the kitchen, whom we tried to scare away by throwing a high-heeled boot into the kitchen at the washing machine (yeah, the washing machine was in the kitchen, I think it's a European thing), and I should note that I was armed with an empty wine bottle that Jo needed as a prop for a performance class the next day, and anyway, when Jo told me Bridget was a little mad, I knew I was in for a treat.

Since then I have started reading other books about neurotic women that almost always have me laughing out loud, even if some of them (especially those by Anna Maxted) are a touch poignant and sad too. I am slurping these books up with a big spoon. If you loved Bridget Jones' Diary and sequel (and I'm talkin' books here, people, not the weird Renee Zellwegger motion picture bastardization) you will probably also like the Nanny Diaries, See Jane Date, Getting Over It, Running in Heels, and Adventures of the Idiot Girls Adventure Club. That is, if you work weird hours, like me, and don't have other things to do, like grad school, and in general don't feel like meeting people in a city where the majority of social opportunities revolve around going to clubs where everyone is skinny and hopped up on amphetamines.

Yes, now I really have to get to the latest installment of Vida en Miami… Okay, so we all know that I am remarkably adept at misplacing things. I almost have it elevated to an art form. I continue to astound myself, every single day, at the creative ways I manage to lose things. But, really, this past weekend, I surpassed myself in the Supreme Zen Art Form of Losing Stuff. Seriously, I would turn pro, but I want to maintain my amateur status as a Person who Loses Things so I can compete in the next Loser Olympics. Hell, maybe I would get a Wheaties endorsement, and then I wouldn't have to work anymore, at least for a few years.

Okay, so on Sunday, I was working on a story at the Miami Convention Center. I remember driving into the city, pulling into the lot near the Holocaust Memorial (v. scary, scarier in many ways than Dachau), and seeing that the only spots available are reserved for volunteers and staff of the memorial. I have been know to park illegally in every imaginable scenario, except I refuse to park in handicapped spaces, and I have never used the expectant mother parking spaces, (although Nanny, age 84, does all the time) but now that I have mentioned it, next week I'll probably shove aside a woman in her 8th month with twins because I'll really have to pee or something, but I also draw the line at taking parking spaces away from the good people who give up time on the weekends to volunteer at the Holocaust Memorial (Have I mentioned it's really scary? Like, as in, Elie Weisel "Night" scary. Yeah.)

So I pulled out of the memorial parking lot and into another lot. It wasn't far from the convention center, I could see it) It was a metered lot. I was parked near a tree. It cost $0.25 per 15 minutes. These things, I could remember.

I go in, shoot the assignment, and three hours later, it's time to go home. I go to the general area where I think the lot is. No car. So I go two more lots away. No car. So I think, maybe I did park in the Holocaust Memorial lot after all...? No car. I walk around in 95-degree weather with a 55 lb camera/laptop bag. This, by the way, sucks.

After two hours of wandering around and a phone call to one of the most creative problem-solvers I know who wouldn't make fun of me for being so abysmally stupid, I figure that I've been towed.

So I call the police, who call the tow places. Nope. Car has not been towed. The police tell me to look for another hour and then to walk down to the police station, which is 13 blocks away or so. It occurs to me at this point, having systematically entered and exited every damn lot within a five-block radius of the convention center that my car has been stolen.

Now, I am in a very, very wealthy part of Miami. The "Gloria Estefan Owns that Bistro," "Antonio Banderas' hairdresser lives at that club with his life partner" part. Why, why, why, with all the amazing cars around, would ANYBODY steal my 80,000+ miles, "mismatched paint because my dad tried to touch up a scratch with the generic brand of paint instead of Toyota's brand variety" car?

The thought actually sort of cheers me, and it's only when I am mentally picking out a nice little red jeep with the insurance check that I remember that there is an $8,000 lens that definitely does NOT belong to me in the trunk.

So I walk the 13 or so blocks, - long, hot blocks- to the police station. I figure it probably isn't stolen, but maybe a policeman will drive me around in an air-conditioned car. Good plan.

When I'm at the police station, asking what I should do, a man about my father's age comes into the station. He's wearing black socks pulled up to his calves with white sneakers, a look that a lot of people his age get when they wander around Miami for a few days after they return from a cruise. I think drinking three banana daquiris a day before breakfast the way people do on cruises does something funny to one's brain. Anyway, he says something was stolen out of his rental car, and he needs to report it. Okay. The policeman says, Fine, Come through the metal detector, put your keys and coins and cell phone in this little basket.

Whatever, Where's my damn car?

And the next thing I know, the policeman slams this guy up against a wall, shouting "THAT WAS PRETTY DAMN DUMB, DON'T YOU THINK?!?!?! We have been having a lot of suicide bomber warnings down here, and my first thought is that he's got a bomb, he's going to blow us up and I should really photograph this, but I don't want to make any sudden moves toward my bag because they didn't x-ray it when I explained it contained a lot of metal stuff that requires being hand inspected. Yeah.

Anyway, then the police officer said, a la drill sergeant, "Do you have any more dope on you? I'm not going to arrest you, but don't you think that was stupid?" And I'm thinking, "Miranda Rights, Miranda Rights," but the guy answers him, "Yes, I'm just stupid." So it turns out that when the guy (who voluntarily came into the police station, by the way) handed over the keys, etc. in his pocket, he also gave the policeman a fifth of marijuana. Oh, goody. I am no longer the stupidest person in this story. I am also no longer the policeman's primary concern.

So I am not even going to think about the fact that this policeman just didn't arrest someone for a blatant crime in front of me, a journalist, because I. Just. Want. To Go. Home. To wrap this story up, I made this very nice cab driver drive me all over Miami Beach. No car. $30 bucks later, I give up.

I find a different policeman who drives me around for an hour. We bond. I tell him about the guy with the pot. He laughs. He tells me people do this all the time on Miami Beach because so many of the blocks look the same. He's done this with two people this week already, one a woman who has lived here her entire life. I feel better. He says, "We'll find it in ten minutes.

After an hour, he decides to give up. So… What? Do I report it stolen? (By the way, you can't report your car stolen without a copy of your registration, which 99.9 percent of people I know, including me, keep the registration in their glove compartment. So, make a copy and carry it in your wallet or whatever.) He says, "You'll find it in the daylight. And I'm like, "Well, I had four and a half hours in the daylight, and I couldn't find it." Sigh… So he says, "Hang on, let me just turn around, and he backs up illegally, like 50 ft, going the wrong way on a one-way street, and pulls into a little lot to turn around.

(Enter choirs of angels and swirling holy light) THERE. IT. IS. There's my car.

It took me more than five and a half hours to find it. In a little lot, with meters and no attendant, near a tree, within sight of the Convention Center, just as I thought. The policeman says he's never seen this lot before, but he thinks that the last woman he helped find her car was parked in the lot next to it. Great. Good. Thank you. Goodbye. "Oh, and by the way, officer, I've never done illegal drugs, honestly, but if I ever do, I won't walk into a station and accidentally hand them to an officer."

He laughs. And then he cocks his head and says, "You really don't do drugs?!?!" I say, "Really, truly. Never," and he said, "No! You HAVE to do drugs. You don't do drugs?" (Um, what?) and I said, "Honest to God. I hardly even drink. Um… Why?" And he says, "Because I know people who are coked out to the edge of oblivion, and they never, ever lose their cars."

And that about sums it all up right there.

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