Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Spring Drive

Sunday was the most beautiful day of the new spring.

After my 2PM awakening (it would have only been 1PM without the "spring forward", which isn't all that bad for a Sunday) I spent most of the hours before sundown driving aimlessly about the city with the top down. I found a great parking spot in the middle of the rapidly and annoyingly gentrifying Washington Square West neighborhood. It's where all the queer bars are. In parking as in city living generally, one must often compromise square footage for location. The best spots are often the tiniest. I have been known and lauded for my parking prowess, both in locating primo spots and being able to shoehorn my charriot into their confines. The current rig has been giving me problems. Though smaller than the late Big Yellow Chrysler convertible, the Sleek Black Leopard's wheel base is strangely configured with a long overhang between bumper and axle under an exageratedly lengthened hood, and a short rear deck with the wheels pushed to the back. I've had difficulty plotting my trajectory. I was able with the Chrysler to jam the thing into a spot EIGHT INCHES longer than the machine. It would take seven or eight wheel cuts, but I could do it. With my background and ego, having to actually pull out and re-approach, with a line of Philadelphia drivers patiently leaning on their horns, is deeply humiliating. No such difficulties Sunday night; I slipped in in one smooth pass, palming the wheel with one hand with the other arm resting on the the edge of the drivers door. About a foot of clearance on either side. Not bad.

Two gay bars in Philly now have decent beer on tap; Woodlies, with the fine if slightly sweet Flying Fish ESA (overpriced at $4.50 a pint), and The Westbury, which features Yards Belgian Saisson and their brilliant Thomas Jefferson Ale. At $3.00 a pint, both go for less than Budweiser and are WAY cheap in the 'hood, especially now that the bridge and tunnel crowd has arrived. It's brewed from a Monticello recipie and is my current beverage of choice. Thom also favored Veuve Clicot Ponsardin Champagne, which I would drink alot more of if I could somehow rationalize the cost. I've tried. The Sage of the Blue Ridge Mountains never bothered much with budgeting, and ended his life much in arrears. Similarly, it's likely that I too will be carried dead and cold out of my crumbling, constantly changing never finished house. I think me 'n' T. J. coulda been great pals. I wonder what he would have driven?

In addition to an afinity for my favorite dead president, the Westbury has a warm welcoming staff and does not reek of stale beer, cigarettes and despair like my usual watering hole. It's cheerful. On the sidewalk in front of The Westbury was a pair of handsome gay homosexual men, easy and relaxed, on either side of a mid 70's Honda CB 350 motorcycle. The bike's gleaming unrestored chrome and orange and black paint work mimicked the '76 CB 550 Four I dumped on a coastal highway in North Carolina the summer I turned twenty four (I picked myself up off the sand and gravel shoulder without a scratch on me, the bike was less fortunate). We talked motorcycles; they have several. They informed me that they come to the Westbury most Sundays. They suggested we go riding. The thicker, darker one got on the back ( note: bottom ) behind his lanky blue eyed partner, and they rode away leaving me with their card in my jeans pocket. Inside, I saw several refugees from the Bike Stop and didn't pay for most of my beers. I decided I'd be back the next Sunday.

It was chilly in the wee hours when I got back into the car, alone on the stretch of Broad Street which had been tightly lined with cars hours before. I was too lazy to open the trunk and extract the vintage stiff dark blue new-old-stock Maveric jean jacket with long flapping pointy collar I'd picked up during my wanderings (i'm bragging here) so pressed the button to raise the top. The top closes itself in a mechanical coreography. The side windows lower, the canvas raises and meets the top edge of the windshield, and worm gears tighten and snug the two together, then, the side windows raise and the performance is complete. Usually. Last night the drivers side window stayed down, which it does from time to time.

That system failure invairiably signals storms are a commin'. Steady rain began in the late morning and has continued 'till now as I write this, and my corduroys are stuck to my ass with the water sponged up from the soggy leather when I parked downstairs. The patrons of the new Thai place on the corner fill up all the spots this time of night, but i found one right by the door. A tight one. In one sharply angled approach and seven turns of the wheel I got my baby in there. Pleased, I measured the space with my fingers and placed them on a tape when I got up here to see just how close it was. SIX AND A HALF INCHES.

Spring is measuring up pretty good, so far.
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