What I Shoulda Said

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Driving down the alley, Lexy had quickly pulled into the parking space marked ”For Clients of Benchley Liddigate, Attorney. She jumped out, and opening the back passenger door, began attending to The Boy. The Boy had spilled the tiny Lego pieces with which he was constructing a lunar module, and he was making distress noises. The Boy prefers to have everything in order.

Meanwhile, a car zoomed into the adjoining parking space, narrowly missing Lexy’s fender and Lexy.
A potbellied man who, we soon learned, was Benchley Liddigate, owner of the, apparently well-known, PRIVATE PARKING SPACES, exited the car and stood glaring at Lexy. She finally turned to him, glared back and asked, “May I help you?”

Benchley replied with what I’m sure he thought was a withering rejoinder. “The question is, ‘How can I help you?’ You are parked in MY private space, for clients only, so you must be here to see me.” His words were sharp with sarcastic wit. It was clear that he did not REALLY want to know how he could help.

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“No, I don’t need any help,” Lexy answered. “I had an issue that needed attention, so I just pulled in to do that.”

“These are Private Spaces.”I could tell that Private Spaces was capitalized when he said it.
They are for my clients only.” I could hear the unspoken “you stupid woman.”

“I apologize for parking in your private space,” said Lexy in an attempt to mollify this puffed up keeper-of-the-sacred-parking-spaces. I can’t say she seemed completely sincere.

Benchley said, “I don’t WANT your apology.” Again, the unspoken was loud and clear. And it sounded like “There could be nothing more worthless at this point than your apology, AND nothing important enough in your small life to warrant parking in one of my spaces since you are definitely not one of my clients. I don’t care if you are having an emergency that involves blood, choking, or childbirth. The only way you could be important enough to occupy one of these exclusive spaces is if you are going to retain my services to sue someone for you.” But all he said was, “I don’t WANT your apology.” And these five self-righteous words were heavy with, ”What I WANT is for you to move your blankety-blank car. NOW! I WANT you not ever to have been here. I WANT you to follow the rules I have posted. These are my parking spots and I’LL decide who can be here. How dare you! Do as I say!!!

Lexy, considering that since he didn’t want the apology, which was the only thing she was willing to offer, gazed at him cooly and explained, “Then I don’t know what else to do. I need to take care of this,”–she pointed, once again, to The Boy and his spilled Legos– “THEN I’ll be on my way.” Benchley didn’t have the exclusive rights to capitalizing words.

I could tell she was no longer interested in explaining that her trespass was only temporary and she’d be gone from the elite space before some desperate, litigious client rolled up and needed the precious spot.

Benchley, quivering with indignation, cast sarcasm aside and spoke plainly. “You park in my private space and then you look at me like ”What the %*## do I want?” I think I saw steam coming from his ears. I’m sure I heard it.

Lexy, having resolved from the beginning not to blink first, realized that she was going to have to cut straight to checkmate. She made her final statement and turned away. “If we need to call someone, then let’s do it.” She may as well have said, “Go ahead. Make my day.”

Benchley, shaking his head in potbellied exasperation at this ridiculous woman who had refused to submit to his authority, stomped off to the entrance to his office, which was, undoubtedly, also private.

Lexy dealt with the spilled Legos, restored order to The Boy’s world, and we drove away from the hallowed space.

Birdie admired Lexy’s cool response under pressure. Birdie had always been one of those people that never had the snappy comeback when she needed it. She was more likely to say something like, “Oh, yeah?” She could think of lots of things she ”shoulda” said later on, when there was no longer any need to say anything to anyone. She wished, just once, she could whip out a sassy retort at the optimum moment. Something like, “If you’d like to discuss this with my Uncle Vito, I can put him in touch.” You know. In a Godfather tone of voice. Yeah. That’s it.

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