MindReader and I are going out for brunch. It is grey and raining, I am in comfortable clothes, leaves are drifting down and leaving great big handprints on Birmingham’s pavements and MindReader is making me laugh. It should be perfect, except, due to an unfortunate ankle injury of MindReader’s, I am driving.
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love driving: the darkness, the music, the feel of taking a corner at just the right speed. However, MindReader does not like me driving (because I drive like an investment banker might).
“Left here,” MindReader says, because I cannot even navigate myself to King’s Heath.
I career around the corner, just as an oncoming car decides to overtake a learner.
“Fucking hell,” MindReader says, making an unbloggable-gesture at the driver.
My upper lip begins to sweat. Imagine if you lost concentration, my brain says. Everybody could die. Imagine if you just drove into the other side of the road. Or if a person stepped out right in front of you and you couldn’t stop.
“Shut up shut up shut up,” I mutter.
“What?” MindReader says, wincing as we bound over a speedbump.
I start to relax as I see the cafe we’re going to. We’re nearly there. Nobody is going to die.
MindReader gestures to his enormous, swollen ankle. “Try and park near, will you?”
“I’ll try,” I say, as I scan the rows and rows of neatly-parked cars, beginning to panic again. The cafe is on a residential street. There are no nice bays with demarcations to help guide you in. No, this is a free-for-all. All around me there are skilled people in Landrovers deftly parking with one turn of the wheel.
I realise it as I turn onto another street and face more rows of parked cars: I am going to have to parallel park.
“Just got to park,” MindReader says with glee. Noah and The Whale are reaching a loud crescendo on our iPod, which also doesn’t help. I pull up next to a car and begin to turn the wheel to the left, inching my way into a space I’m not even sure is big enough.
“You can get in that forwards,” MindReader says.
“I can’t. I just end up at an angle and I have to go backwards anyway,” I say, remembering a time when I tried to parallel park outside somebody’s house and I just ended up behind them on their driveway.
“More lock,” MindReader says as I begin straightening up, at least two feet from the kerb. Sweat begins to drip down my back. MindReader is looking terribly sexy with his blond hair and ginger beard and ripped, faded jeans. I don’t want to look like a total dick in front of him before noon.
“Other way,” MindReader says as the car begins to drift out into the road.
I look in my mirrors. Well, I’m nowhere near the kerb but the car is very straight.
“In again that way.” MindReader makes a spinning gesture with his finger. I sigh. He really should not have to do this after I have been driving for two years.
I go into lawyer-mode, blocking everything out and imagining the angles in my head. I of course go overboard, parking the car exactly a centimetre from the kerb.
“Oh,” MindReader says, opening the door. “Hello kerb.”
“That was fun,” I say, fanning my damp t-shirt against myself.
MindReader takes my hand. “Got any taxi numbers?”