9/10 of the Law

Feb. 16 - There's this guy, probably a very reasonable guy, the kind you wouldn't mind having to sit next to at a dinner party. He's friendly and well-mannered and probably unarmed.

He lives with his wife and a kid or two in an apartment in Frederiksberg. Everyone says they're just the nicest people. They wake up, have breakfast, and go about their days just like anyone else. They have no criminal record. They're not involved in any secret plots. They don't get strange, unmarked packages from intriguing foreign addresses. They're the kind of family that you often see beside you at a restaurant but seldom actually notice.

After a weekend of bad winter weather our guy, the father in this family, decides that the family chariot needs to be stored indoors. (The family chariot is two-wheeled mini-chariot, enclosed in nylon, that attaches to the back of a bicycle for the purposes of transporing children, groceries, or, among less innocent families, illegal firearms, drugs, or dead bodies.)

The guy takes the chariot into the apartment building's special basement parking area, where bicycles, tricycles, prams, strollers, and the like are parked. He searches in vain for somewhere to park his chariot. He doesn't realize, having kept his family's equipment outdoors for so long, that there simply isn't much available space to be had. After considerable exploration he finally settles upon a little wedge of space between a column and an interior wall. The chariot just barely fits. He's satisfied with its placement.

The following day he goes into the parking area to get the chariot. He's got to run a few errands, or perhaps just run the kids off to daycare. When he gets to the spot where he'd parked his chariot, however, what does he find? An oversized baby-pram. His chariot has been parked nearby, in an awkward spot where it's bound to get in the way of people trying to get their bikes in or out of one particular corner.

So when our guy gets back from his errand, whatever it is, and has to park his chariot again, he simply removes the pram from his space and shoves it into the middle of an aisle.

The next day he goes down to get his chariot and discovers that his chariot has once again been carelessly moved aside, and the same stupid pram has taken its place.

What do you think he'll do? I'm curious because I'm the guy with the pram. Today is the third and as-yet-unwritten day of this little morality tale. Who's the good guy? Who's the bad guy? I gave you the other guy's side of the story first in an effort to be fair. I like to think of myself as a fair person, even when I'm not. Even when I'm engaged in this kind of kindergarten-level power struggle. But now, a la Paul Harvey, here's the other side of the story:

We moved into this apartment in early December. The little wedge between the column and interior wall was the only open spot left in the cellar. We've parked our pram their every day and every night ever since then. That's more than two months of daily use. And suddenly this bastard son of a whoring goat thinks he's going to bump us out of our space?

I'm going to leave a note on that goddam chariot if I find it's displaced our pram again today. The note is going to say, "Our pram has been parked in its space since early December. Be so kind as to find an unoccupied space of your own. Many friendly greetings." (I'm translating from the unwritten Danish version of the note on the fly. If the unwritten note were in English it would be much better.)

So there you have it. I'm two days away from our first trip to the states in about a year, and our first long-distance journey with Molli; I've got rough deadlines at work and school; the apartment's a mess; I'm suffering from a horrible cold; and yet every waking minute of my day is spent in anguish over this parking spot for our pram. It was the first thing I thought of when I woke up this morning ("I wonder if that bastard has taken our space again?"). It was the last thing I thought of before falling asleep last night ("I wonder if you can buy Semtex on Ebay?").

My dark soul will not rest until this issue has been resolved.

What a good person would do—a truly good person, not just one of those people that always seems so chipper but actually has a refrigerator full of human heads in their basement—what a really good person would do is probably shrug the whole thing off and find a new place to park their pram. I know I ought to take a deep breath, count to a hundred, and ask myself, "What would Ned Flanders do?"

But I'm drawing the line on this one. Sometimes the other guy has to be the reasonable one. Sometimes the other guy has to be the grown up. And this is one of those times.


On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba after having led the revolution that removed Fulgenico Batista. At the time, Cuba was a nation plagued by poverty, racked by corruption, and held in thrall by the military force of its leader. Today, of course, Cuba is a nation plagued by poverty, racked by corruption, and held in thrall by the military force of its leader.

On February 16, 1918, Lithuania declared its independence from Russia. It was such a successful declaration that they didn't have to repeat it for more than seventy years.

Today is the birthday of John McEnroe (1959), Ice-T (1958), LeVar Burton (1957), Sonny Bono (1935), Hugh Beaumont (1909), and Edgar Bergen (1903).

It's Independence Day in Lithuania and Flag Day in Turkmenistan.

Happy Monday!

2005, The Moron's Almanac™

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