If You Gotta Go, Go With A Smile

The odd morning here and there finds me dragging my butt out of bed earlier than is normal, even for me, to go forth into the most silent part of any day to move my car. Parking in Brooklyn is not the most difficult of chore-sports, at least not in our neighborhood, but some nights I simply don’t feel like participating. Last night was dreadfully wet, and I wanted nothing to do with it. Especially since I currently have to climb through the hatchback to get into the car, due to a faulty driver’s side lock–the result of a break-in some years back–and the fact that the battery in the remote unlocking device has been dead ever since our return from sunny Mexico.

Morning parking is easy. Few people have the fortitude to rise before six AM to participate, and there are one or two streets with parking restrictions that are only in effect between the hours of two to five AM. These streets are the relics of a nearly bygone era here in Williamsburg, zoned in a time when all the warehouses here weren’t converted condos, but mills, packing plants, sugar and even pencil factories. Even with all the new bright and shiny apartment buildings that litter Williamsburg, you can still find the occasional street not yet overrun by residential humanity. These blocks offer a reprieve of sorts, they are silent in the wee hours before dawn, and offer a seductive hum of near desolation.

Amid discarded needles, unattended dog poops, White Castle wrappers, and sometimes, if you are lucky, shredded pages of pornography that find their way to the street from the live-in semi-truck cabs of overnight eighteen wheeled guests–you’ll find ample parking. Probably sounds abysmal to most, but when I first moved to what is now one of the most over priced neighborhoods in all five boroughs, I found all of the grime quite charming. And these streets are the last existing reminder of a flavor one can’t find too often around these parts anymore.

For me, any walk down any street–no matter the time of day, or level of grit and disarray–is accompanied by a low-level effort to be on guard for my own victimization. Reading the police blotter in the neighborhood’s local rags, has me believing the most likely of any potential scenario would be a simple mugging, and there is no rhyme or reason to the various times of day these incidents occur. You are as likely to be mugged for your iPhone at two in the afternoon as you are in the dark witching hours of the night. Too often the victim is a just a Joe or Jane on their way to work, up early to beat traffic or make a long commute, and probably easier to pick off unscathed as so few people are around to witness it.

I’ve not been on the receiving end of a mugging, not in sixteen long years here, and I’d like to think a great deal of that success is rooted in my paranoia. Many a serial killer has remarked that to some extent their ability to lure prey has a lot to do with people’s tendency to not trust their guts–to ignore the primitively instinctual alert that something just isn’t right about a situation. I try to keep a pulse on that little voice, and I’m sure I’ve gone well out of my way to stay out of the proximity of a stranger who was no different than me. Just a guy or gal headed out early to move their vehicle too.

There has always been one little line of thinking that has kept me comfortable with the idea of being assaulted, specifically fatally assaulted. I’d like to believe that should the incident go awry, and should the assailant mortally wound me due to it being his first such crime, or my own stubborn refusal to part with my smokes–I’d like to believe that I’d find just enough strength to utter some non-sensical parting words to the perp. My own line has always been, “I’m glad it was you.” And I ripped it from some Tom Hanks gangster movie of all things. But, in my twisted little world, those five little words would leave the villan permanently confused for the rest of his days in this version of the world. A punishment of permanent confusion, for having taken me from that same world. Would it drive him to madness? I doubt it. But I’ll be long gone, and I at the very least figure to receive some sort of celebratory high-five for my efforts from whomever decided to greet me on the other side. And that little bit of fabricated ridiculousness would just about make the whole episode worth it. Last laugh, Rosch.

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