Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”
Imagine a woman, average height, overweight enough to carry some significant rolls around her stomach and notable wobble around the arms and legs. Years of cigarettes have imparted a uniquely leathery look to her skin, as if she spent most of her life hanging with the hams in a smokehouse. She has bleached her exhausted, brittle hair platinum blonde. She appears to favor animal-print clothing, or clothing made of animal skins — particularly the fringe-heavy, black-dyed leather favored by Harley enthusiasts. In the pool, however, she prefers a leopard-print wraparound, zebra-striped towel, Laura Schlesinger books, suntan oil, and a truly indescribable leopard-print bikini that emphasizes her impossibly gigantic boobs. While tanning, she listens to a station that enthusiastically plays such classics as “Tainted Love.”
Now imagine her Harley-Davidson. A big hog, with the tall, up-swooping handlebars that stretch the rider’s arms to nearly their full extent. Chrome gleams everywhere, naturally, and from the handlebars hang two-foot-long black-and-white leather fringes. The body of the motorcycle gleams with black-and-white zebra stripes. The trademark Harley roar alerts everybody in a one-mile radius every time the vehicle moves.
With that in mind, a vignette for you. Last weekend, sitting in our apartment, Ian and I heard the notable rumble of Zebra Lady arriving home. Her arrival being something of an event in our lives, we watched out the window as she zipped towards her normal parking spot — and stopped abruptly. A brown Toyota minivan occupied the spot! She sat idling on the motorcycle for quite a while; we could almost see the gears turning in her mind. The nerve of this van, to take her spot! Granted, a half-dozen empty parking places beckoned invitingly. The van sat between to unoccupied spots. But she had her spot firmly staked out. Clearly the van would have to go.
She turned off the motorcycle, alighted from it, and walked up to the van, clearly at a loss and equally clearly set on having that van moved. After a few moments’? thought, she walked back to the motorcycle and began persistently honking the horn. Honk-honk-honk-honk-honk — and a few moments later somebody in the building stuck his head out. She asked whose van it was, and apparently received a useful answer, because immediately after this conversation she stalked confidently down to one of the doors. An unheard exchange ensued between her and the minivan owner, a young Asian fellow who agreed to her “request” with more than natural enthusiasm and readiness. We heard her explaining that she parked her motorcycle in that exact spot to keep an eye on it from her apartment, and later heard the poor man thanking her for something. The van moved, she took her rightful place, and the world settled back into its usual orbit. Now she parks her white wood-paneled 1985 station wagon on the line of her spot to more actively defend the territory. This is, by the way, the second time we witnessed her demanding that somebody vacate that spot for her.
. . .
In some real news, I dropped Ian off at the bus station at 5:15 this morning. He’s flying home to visit his dear friend Ben, who we recently found out has desmoplastic cancer. Although we haven’t stopped praying for Ben since hearing the news, I’m glad Ian is getting to spend some in-person time with his oldest friend. This trip means that I pretend to be single this week, grocery shopping for myself, putting gas in the car, locking the front door at when I leave. I intend to let the car get very lonely over the next seven days.