It took me years of hemming and hawing and handwringing to get around to applying for a handicapped parking decal.
Me? Handicapped? Nah.
I wasn’t handicapped. I just had… moments. Moments when my legs melted from beneath me. Moments when my husband took on the dual role of valet-parking-attendant/living-human-crutch, and had to juggle parking the wife and parking the car. A handicapped parking permit would have made those moments a lot easier. For him.
But for me? I wasn’t handicapped. Those moments were flukes. Was there some sort of Momentarily Handicapped Decal? I’d take one of them. I’d leave the real handicapped spots for those handicapped people.
Over the years, the flukes piled up. Most memorably, there was the Wisdom Tooth Fluke. We had planned for my husband to get IV valium that morning. We hadn’t planned for the ice storm. We hadn’t planned for my legs to give out the moment my husband draped his arm around me. The dentist had to request two wheelchairs, and two orderlies, to escort us both out. We were wheeled as far as the exit, where we sat side-by-side and stared across a glassy parking lot of solid ice. Our car was parked somewhere out in the back. Yep.
The dentist had been generous with his valium. My husband was generous with his praise of the orderlies, even as they informed us we had reached the end of the line.
That was a fluke. My husband couldn’t lose his wisdom teeth twice, right?
But fluke followed fluke. Too many flukes, and you’ve got yourself a trend. I applied for the decal. I wrote a long, tortured, multiparagraph treatise on how I would only use the decal for good, never for evil, how I would never park in a handicapped spot on my good days, just because the spot was there and I was already late for the movie and there were all those other handicapped spots open if any more-deserving handicapped-er driver happened to need one. Or something to that effect.
The day arrived when the decal arrived in the mail. My six year old son watched me pull the thing out of the envelope.
“Good news!” I cried. “I got a handicapped parking decal.”
My eyes went to the expiration date.
That meant I would never have to apply for another handicapped decal.
That meant I was really and truly handicapped for life.
My son’s eyes had gone wide. He stood transfixed on the staircase, studying me. “Are you sure that’s good news, Mommy?”