An art opening? Yasss! My friend’s first art opening? Yasss! Yasss! In Brooklyn so I can swing by and scoop up my Brooklyn friend to come along? Yasss! Yasss! Yasss!
In Bushwick on a Friday night? Eh, not so much yasss as welp, it’s surely worth it to go to a public place and look at art and chat with friends. Plus, planning it out, I found a garage nearby to not worry about parking. I also texted my brother: Walking two blocks in Bushwick, okay? His answer: Yes, walk fast.
My brother used to teach in Bushwick before it started to become the up and coming creative and lively neighborhood it has started to grow into. That means he saw some things. Thankfully, the things he saw we did not see as S and I careened around the streets of Brooklyn, looking for this parking garage, finally finding it on the street where its address was not.
Perhaps you’ve heard—me and car stuff do not go together. As soon as I pulled in, I got the nervous sweats. Doubling my nervous sweats was the guy who was waving me forward towards him instead of directing me behind the SUV that had pulled up in front of me.
I rolled down my window and said hi. He responded with, Do you remember where you picked it up, sweetie?
NOTE: I’ll say it right here right now. We were all in a casual setting, and this guy oozed genuine niceness. He wasn’t being condescending, and I don’t mind someone like this calling me sweetie.
Think of it this way:
When pandemic hit, I gave my classes my Instagram account so I could communicate with them on InstaLive when we were banished from campus because no one had a plan. They showed up, and some still stick around. In that time after the semester ended, though, one of the geniuses started replying to some of my stories. I didn’t recognize who it was, so I asked, Do I know you? He responded, Yes i was in your class. I replied back, Oh, that’s right, I hope you’re doing well. To which he replied, It’s all good Sweethearrrrrrttttt. To which I responded, Professor works better than sweetheart. Then I immediately blocked him.
See the difference?
Anyway, back to the parking garage where I’m working up a good pit sweat.
The guy says, Do you remember where you picked it up, sweetie? He starts pointing to the back of the garage and says something about right around the corner. Then he must see the puzzlement on my face because he stops, then does a double-take, and then? He punches my arm. No joke, like we’ve been friends for years and he’s realizing a mistake. He says, Oh, man, this isn’t a Zip Car!
I was like, Nope, this is my car.
He was like, It looks like the zip cars, okay, okay. And then he asked me to wait while he took care of the people in front of us. Then he came back over and asked to see my reservation. Then I had to find something in my email—began the heavy sweats when I couldn’t find it right away—and in that time, he took a liking to us.
He told S to get out of the car so I could park it against a wall. Then he told both of us and the couple in front of us about the importance of the ticket. Take the ticket. Take a picture of it. Put it in a safe place. Do not lose the ticket. If you do, it’s a five hour ordeal with the DMV to prove the car is yours. Do. Not. Lose. The. Ticket. I went to put the ticket in a safe place, and he yelled, Take a picture! I got all frazzled, took the picture, and then put the ticket in a safe place. Then he told S and me to follow him towards the back of the garage.
There were found a smashed up Jetta. Someone had run a stop sign and plowed head on into his wife’s car. She was fine, and he already had a new car. We also learned his birthday was soon as was the Puerto Rican Day Parade. One of the cars was going to be in it. Something was happening in Florida. Some of the garages got cars stolen. He takes care of his garage and none of that nonsense would happen here.
It was a lot to take in. We both thanked him, and as we started to walk out, I gave him my keys and a small tip.
TIP: I learned this from the wasband—tip your valet on the way in. It’s always stuck with me. I did it automatically.
He said he didn’t work for tips but he’d take it. Then he was like, Take a picture of my number! That’s me! I’m Eddie! Take a picture! I did and was instructed to call him when we were heading back so he’d have the car ready to go when we got there. See? Tip ahead.
Bushwick was safe. The few blocks we walked were filled with murals on buildings, a small restaurant decorated with album covers, and small shops with creative names along every street. The city was alive, and it felt so thrilling to walk and take it all in.
S found a wall that had been spray painted No Regrets and was like, Want a picture with it? I said sure, and so she directed me in what turned out to be a quick and fun photo shoot. Scroll through real quick to get the animated version. You, too, can have a photo set like this if you hang out with the best people like I do.
We found Gallery Petite. Art on the walls! A video piece! There were also pickles and brownies! Wine, too! This was an event! The artists were there, and the curator handed me the brochure of descriptions, so BG, S, and I went around looking at titles and materials. Then S pointed out to BG, Hey, your collage is upside down! That’s the fun thing about surrealist collage art—sometimes interpretation is far from the original intent. Also, S has a keen eye; I hadn’t noticed. BG said he thought it was really cool that it happened that way and he liked that it had happened.
His four collages hung on one wall as one master piece of collage-hood.
There was a pineapple painting on the opposite wall that I really enjoyed plus a photograph that caught my eye. S enjoyed a painting on wood and then realized, Oh, that’s a skeleton. That made it a little sad. Heh heh. Art is fun.
Then people showed up, like in a mass. We made our way to the sidewalk for conversation. Talked art. Talked poetry. Talked people we know. Talked some baking (because S makes the best desserts, and BG was amazed that someone could make peppermint patties). Then BG popped in and out, chatting it up with people looking at his art, and S and I people watched and did a final stroll through the artwork when more people spilled onto the street. This is the kind of event I enjoy the most—do your own thing inside and outside and talk about all the things you love with easygoing friends.
Both S and I had to work in the morning, so we headed out with a final hug for the artist. Out on the street, I called Eddie the Garage Guy, and he said he’d have my car ready. Then S and I stopped for a moment so I could find the ticket. The very important ticket. It wasn’t in my wallet. I gave it to S to look again. It wasn’t in my bag. It wasn’t in my pockets. It wasn’t anywhere. She was like, You have the picture, right? I was like, Yes. She was like, Well, he said the picture would be good enough. I agreed, but then I also felt like I was disappointing Eddie the Garage Guy. I’d lost the one thing he’d told me to hold most dear.
When we got to the garage after a regaling discussion that revealed I know nothing about ice cream trucks and racism (apparently Good Humor wasn’t always so good), my car was there, facing out, lights on, ready to go. We wandered in, and Eddie the Garage Guy called out, Go get in! You’re all set!
The ticket thing was now a non-necessity. I think this was because we’d seen him only two hours ago, and we all knew who the car belonged to. I tipped him again (the rest of the tip! this is how it works!). S’s door was locked, so he joked, I thought you wouldn’t be coming back! We all had a good laugh because his laugh was infectious, and then he was like, Honey, you have my number now. I was like, Yes, I sure do. He was like, I like you two, so you need anything—tires, parking, anything—you can call me, and I’ll make it happen. I thanked him profusely, and then we were off, out of the garage, careening around the streets of Brooklyn once again.
About the ticket. I never found it. Here’s what I think happened. I think it got wrapped up in the first tip I gave him, and he’d been holding the other half of it, so he didn’t notice what I’d done. If I hadn’t taken the picture of it, it would have been in my wallet. Instead, it’s out there in the ether, incredibly important and simultaneously unnecessary. This is art. This is life.
And also: Congratulations, BG!