With the parked Prius missing from 22nd Street, Diane, Liz and I found ourselves guests of the NYPD Tow Yard. Liz was sent on a search and rescue mission for Diane’s teen-aged daughter Emily, and friend Kyle, who were roaming 168th Street having taken the wrong subway from Yankee Stadium. My beautifully dressed dark-skinned friend (a.k.a. “Prison Husband”) gave me an eerie sense of protection as I swam (in 4-inch trendy platforms!) with the bottom-feeders of civilization in the polluted undertow of the NYPD Tow Yard.
Finally, it was our turn at the bullet-proof plexi-glass information window. “I’m trying to find out if my car was towed,” Diane said.
“Wrphhhh, yrmnnn, lrmny, nbuuuu,” the woman responded.
You’ve got to be kidding me! It was like standing on a subway platform when they make an announcement over the loudspeaker. Repeating what she said, we both squinted hard to read her lips. It was like a sick game of charades. WHAT’S. YOU…NO. YOUR. LIMIT…NO. LIGHTNING…NO. LICENSE! PLEAD…NO. PLAY…NO. PLATE. I GOT IT “WHAT’S YOUR LICENSE PLATE NUMBER!!!” We jumped up and down victoriously.
Then Diane somberly answered, “I don’t know it, but it’s a champagne-colored Prius.” The bubble over the woman’s head read, “Good for you, college girl, knowing the fancy color! But it’s still lost, you damn idiot.” But she must have felt sorry for us because she slipped Diane a note with the number of the Police Precinct that covers 22nd Street.
The Desk Sergeant told Diane that cars are routinely towed at 11pm; he was sure her car was, too. Diane took my phone to call her husband, Glenn, while I entertained the Desk Sergeant on hers.
When Glenn answered she laughed, “Sorry I missed your 25 calls. What’s the Prius’s license plate number?” I could almost hear his head detach from his body. I imagined Glenn’s response bouncing from cellular tower to cellular tower causing them to angrily ignite like the lightning-rods in Frankenstein’s laboratory. The Desk Sergeant, having grown attached to Diane, inquired, “Is she okay? Should I talk to her husband? Does she date?”
At this point Emily charged into the Tow Pound bursting with energy and excitement followed by a very mellow Kyle.
“MOM, THIS IS, LIKE, I DON’T KNOW; JUST THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!!!!! LOST IN NYC! NO CAR! DAD’s FURIOUS! 168th STREET ROCKS!!!!! OOH ANNIE I LOVE YOUR SHOES!”
Diane had hives thinking about Glenn; I was cringing because my husband, Jim, was threatening to send his father to find me because I’m clearly an irresponsible child, but Liz was cool as a cucumber. Her husband, Hector, was at a friend’s playing Scrabble. I couldn’t help but taunt her, “Hey Liz, what’s a seven-letter word beginning with a “D” for where my marriage is heading? What’s an eight-letter expletive beginning with “f” ending in “up” to describe tonight?” Liz cast me a look that said, “five-letter word for ‘shut the hell up.”
Diane was given a pass to search the garage for her car. We were allowed to accompany her into the garage, but we had to remain under the watch of two big intimidating prison matrons who read us the rules: “Don’t Move and Don’t Talk” before turning away. Diane was led away by another intimidating woman in uniform. I felt like she was leaving general population and being transported to solitary confinement. Meanwhile, Emily took cellphone pictures to commemorate this evening. She even took a picture of the sign that read, “No Pictures! Violators Subject to Prison!” I wish she would have gotten a picture of Diane driving towards us in THE PRIUS with the 350 pound prison matron in the passenger seat. That one would have made a terrific Father’s Day present.
Diane paid the ransom and called Glenn. He advised her to check for dents. I eyed the phalanx of prison matrons surrounding us guessing that if we dared to check for dents they would be more than happy to give us some.
Piled safely into the car, Diane drove out of the Tow Pound failing to see the red light. Like a seasoned pro she expertly avoided a collision with a NYC Sanitation Truck. We all broke out laughing. Imagine telling Glenn, “Good news: the Prius isn’t dented! Bad news: it’s totaled.”