There Went the Neighborhood

It is a large party. My neighborhood is a quiet one. Usually. But tonight valet parkers – valet parkers — run back and forth, young and looking like they would appreciate large tips, their white shirts, red vests, and black bowties suggesting a need to afford to escape from their job.

I mean who in my neighborhood can have the money to throw parties with people who park cars for their guests? How many guests is that?

I call tell by the hornet’s nest buzzing drone floating my way from the distance, that there’s some sort of Gatsby moved in up the hill.

And the valets run unsmilingly by, getting in their exercise, and I wonder where, on my hill, they’re finding all these parking spaces.

On my hill, we may miraculously now have a Jay Gatsby, but parking spaces are scarce as hen’s teeth. I imagine as the residents come home that there may be arguments with valets about taking up what we consider our ‘reserved’ spaces.

Even now, on your average night, I hear neighbors shout at each other about cock-a-roaching spaces. A few even put out cones to mark their eight-foot blocks of sidewalk.

The city says all of these ‘reserved’ parking spaces on our streets are illegal. What should be illegal is building all these ‘monster’ houses where Gatsby-esque characters can elbow in and break up the peace.

The woman who lives across the street from me and who parks two cars behind mine is on our neighborhood board. Her goal, she told me once, is to keep the area as original to its design as possible. I’ve lived here 30 years longer than she has. If what she believes she sees around us as ‘original’, she’s dreaming. And it’s a nightmare.

The river of valets continues to run by, and the buzz of the hive up the hill grows stronger.

One time there was a party down the block, much smaller than the one tonight, and a man shot two of the partygoers. I was maybe 10 at the time, and the sound of the gun woke me up. My father assured me that everything was all right as the police and ambulances swarmed the place.

Every time there’s a larger party in the area, I think about that night. The more people jammed together drinking alcohol, the better the chances of arguments breaking out. The more arguments, well, you know. And now with concealed-carry growing. Man.

A few shots, too, and what? Some parking spaces may be gone for days before the vehicles of the victims are towed away.

And the valets come and go, never knowing if a few of the cars they’ve parked may not be retrieved, large tips not received, meaning more days of menial work until they can escape to better jobs.

I pull another beer from the fridge, sit on the stone wall fronting the street, and listen to the noise from the Gatsby mansion grow, the crowd swelling.

This may propel my neighbor to act faster, whip the board members into a frenzy to act. That party is evidence, she’ll say, that we have to act faster to preserve what we have here before it’s gone forever.

It is a large party. And there will be more of them with all the attendant problems. No neighborhood board can save what’s already gone.

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