notquiteold

Nancy Roman

We Can Walk To The Curb From Here.

Parking in central Rome, Italy. Although the c...

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(I promised I would write at least one essay on something that men do better than women.  Here it is.)

In “Annie Hall”, when Alvy Singer first meets Annie, she gives him a ride home. It’s a harrowing ride, and when she finally stops in front of his place, he opens the car door and says, “Don’t worry. We can walk to the curb from here.”

While Annie is a terrible driver as well as a terrible parker, I think only one of those stereotypes is true.

Women are pretty good drivers. Men seem to like to drive on the center line. Women stay in their own lane and stop when the light is yellow. They don’t tailgate and they don’t lean on the horn. They get where they need to go, and they don’t try a new ridiculous shortcut every other day.

But we are lousy parkers.

My parallel parking is worse than Annie Hall’s.  You can’t walk to the curb from there.  You can hardly even see the curb from there. I don’t even try it anymore. I just drive a little extra (I try to keep it under a quarter of a mile) and walk back.

My parking-lot parking is adequate.  Barely adequate.  I find I can park much better turning left into the space than turning right.  So I sometimes will drive around so I can approach from the left.  And I can’t back into a spot (like, ever).

Yes, this is just my own experience.  But I know it’s most of us women.  I just know.  (So admit it, already.)

But men – who can’t stay in their own lane on the highway – can pull into the tiniest parking space.  And parallel park in two graceful gliding arcs.

My friend’s teenager who just got his license can park. My father, when he was in his eighties and driving extremely erratically, could still park. My husband can park his F350 in a space the size of a bath towel. In the dark. With a beer.

Several years ago, I went to Paris on business. My French associate took me out to lunch one day.  (Lunch in Paris is extraordinary, and I mean with wine. But that’s for another post.) There were no parking spaces on the street, so he drove into a parking garage.  The spaces as marked were incredibly small, even for the little shitboxes they drive over there. Mon ami found one tiny, pathetically narrow spot, available because no one had attempted such a feat.  He had me get out of the car.  Then he folded in the rear-view mirrors, (which is a clever attribute of those shitboxes).  And he drove the sb into the space, with maybe an eighth of an inch on either side.  Then he crawled over the seat and came out the hatchback.  He smoothed his tie and we went to lunch.

Because I have a theory for everything, I have a theory for this too.  Men can park because they take pride in putting big things in tight places.

(I will now return to my regularly scheduled programming.)

27 Comments

  1. Snoring Dog Studio

    Oooooh, good ending! Rated x! Honestly, I’m a pretty darn good parallel parker. My mom taught me. She rode along in the passenger seat with a yardstick hung out to measure the distances. I don’t parallel park much anymore, but when I do I seem to stick the landing quite well. I will say this however: No woman could back a trailer into a tight spot like my brother-in-law. It’s a thing of beauty to watch. I take that back – I bet I and lots of women could be taught how. Get all the children and pets out of the way first, though.

    Like

    • Not only a good parker but taught by your mother! Wow! My mother always needed two spaces or she wouldn’t even try it. (Three for parallel.)

      Like

  2. RVingGirl

    Great post but I must disagree…..I am a far better parallel parker than my husband. In fact, though I have accomplished several amazing things in my lifetime, I have already decreed that when I die, it be announced to the whole gathered congregation (lots I hope?) that one of my proudest achievements is that I am a terrific parker. We live in tiny little Bermuda where there is ONLY parallel parking in the cities and villages. I can fit my booty into any spot anywhere and even in front of people! The more watching, the better I perform. lol
    Now, your closing comment about men fitting big things in tight places? I can see another topic for blogging right there. What is most men’s perception of …ah….say……6 inches? Yeah! You see what I mean???? uh hum….

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  3. bigsheepcommunications

    You speak the truth. But I still don’t understand why a man who can park a big car in a tiny parking space can’t seem to find a spot for one last glass in the dishwasher. It’s a mystery.

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  4. pharphelonus

    I’m not sure what keeps me coming back for this heaped on abuse. Must be your brilliant way of offering up your thoughts, even when they take down the half of the population that typically is better in a crisis, better at seeing the bigger picture AND parks better. LOL

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    • Now wait a minute! This one was supposed to make you happy!
      (and I feel a post coming on with “better in a crisis”….. ) 😉

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      • pharphelonus

        I’m all about being inspiring, Nancy. LOL

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  5. A difference I’ve found between my husband and me is that in parking lots I like to “pull through” every chance I get so I can simply drive away. I’m into simplification so I don’t have to back up. He views simplification as parking in the spot in front of him. He’s a good guy though because every now and then he pulls through to make me happy. As you can tell, it doesn’t take much.

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  6. Funny! I had to think about it. True- men drive faster, take more risks and I know for sure that wears out the brakes well before they’re due .. and he can park anything!
    I don’t do too badly but take the easier approach if possible.

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  7. My experience from living 5 years in Europe (Switzerland and France) is that European men can do anything in a car in reverse. It is going forward where they have problems. Kind of a metaphor!

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  8. JSD

    Love this post. However, I too am one of those women who can park (parallel and especially backwards…sans trailer). My late father-in-law once told me I drive like a man. He meant it as a compliment, and I was very pleased.
    Great ending! 🙂

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  9. Well, I’m not so good in either the driving or parking dept, but at least everyone else is not in motion when I’m parking. If faced with 2 empty parking spots, the car seems to end up straddling them, like it (or me) couldn’t make up its mind! Loved this post-thanks for your little breath of humor everyday – it’s most refreshing.

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  10. Hahaha! I love that theory! Words of Wisdom!

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  11. Great post! If I can’t drive directly into a space, I don’t bother. I find every attempt I’ve made to parallel park highly stressful. I start sweating profusely, mumble profanities under my breath, think I’m going to hit cars–it’s horrifying.

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  12. That last sentence has to be one of the single best slightly raunchy joke I have seen in a long time! Thanks for the laugh! BTW, I parallel park quite well. My complaint about other drivers – especially male – is they never use their turn signal, (except my husband), but then again, neither do women (except me.)

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  13. I hate parking- especially backing out of spaces. I always find a pull-through spot, even if its waaaaaayy out of my way, just so I can avoid it!

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    • I can back out… I just can’t back in. And I can’t explain it.

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  14. Ha! Oh, yes. It’s the one thing I failed when I took my driver’s test – parallel parking! (Luckily you were allowed to fail one thing.)

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  15. Doc

    Big things in tight places? Whatever do you mean? But you must be living in another century, or another country. I find female drivers to be more aggresive lately. And with them on the phone or doing their hair or even (I swear I saw this) doing their eye makeup while driving they are becoming more erratic. As for parking, there’s very little parallel parking in my town. And I have the dings in my car doors to prove it.

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  16. When I was taking my driver’s test at 16, I told the examiner I couldn’t parallel park and he replied with a smile, “That’s okay, dear.” I passed!

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  17. Perfect last line! What a landing!

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  18. Not only did I laugh, but I roared. Almost feel off my chair. LOVED the last line. Aren’t you clever.

    I don’t recall how I parallel parked for my driver’s test a hundred years ago. I was bad at it but I taught my daughter to parallel park a dozen years ago and then listening to the voice in my head that told her how to do it, I then taught myself. Go figure.

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  19. You are so right! I drive quite well in forward, but can’t back up straight to save my paint job. But I’m pretty good with parking–oh, you meant getting a car into a parked space. That kind of parking, I’m okay at that, too.

    I LOVE your last line! Too funny! 🙂

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  20. Most of the tailgaters I’ve seen, minus the woman I gave the finger last week, have been men. And as some of the other women here have said, I, too, am a better parallel parker than my male mate. (I like to “nanny!nanny!” him about this periodically). Down with stereotypes! At least the driving ones. I have to agree with the other entry you wrote about spitting, though. What’s up with that?

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  21. I pretty much try to avoid going in reverse whenever possible. It’s not my best gear.

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  22. Are spitting and parking related somehow, perhaps?

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