Don’t park there.

Some girls care about a guy’s car, but recent experiences have led me to a new, admittedly ridiculous, basis on which to judge a date– his parking style.

This concept first occurred to me when a guy picked me up to go out to dinner. He was a surgeon, and he drove an Audi, so I probably should have realized that he was rich. But it didn’t really hit me until we got to the restaurant and he parked his car with a valet! Without even looking for a street spot! On a weeknight! My mind was blown. I thought only celebrities lived so lavishly. (The glamour was diminished a little bit when we tried to get the car back after dinner and had to hang around in the garage because the valet had locked himself out of the office containing all the keys.)

Not surprisingly, Dr. Valet turned out to be too fancy to be compatible with me, so some time later I found myself giving directions to my house to yet another date. I offered up some parking advice (eg., finding an empty spot on the alley that glitters with past visitors’ window fragments is not actually lucky) and he appeared at my door remarkably quickly. “You found a spot?” I asked. “Oh yeah,” he said. “I parked in a lot for some cafe or something.”

Now you out-of-towners may not know this, but Philadelphians will park anywhere: hanging off the corner, on the sidewalk, on the median (no, seriously, that’s standard procedure in parts of the city). But we do not park illegally on private property. Why not? Because the parking authority will ticket you, but private tow truck drivers will do much scarier things, like extortion, gunfire and arson. (To quote Dave Barry: I am not making this up.)

How to explain all this to an innocent guy just in from the suburbs, where “no parking” signs are more like a friendly nudge than a death threat? It was beyond me. So I just talked fast, ordered no dessert, and generally tried to wrap up our date before his car disappeared.

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