We had just pulled into Kroger. I pointed and said, “While that sign seems very generous, it’s somewhat deceitful.”
“It seems severe and straightforward to me,” Mrs. Cool Kid said.
I pinched her cheek.
She’s so cute when she’s wrong.
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I gave her a wet willie.
She’s so cute when she slaps her palms over her ears and shrieks.
“No,” I said. “The sign’s heartfelt, but subtlety vague.”
This was the sign: NO PARKING VEHICLES WILL BE TOWED AT OWNER’S EXPENSE.
“For one thing,” I said, “even if you wanted to, you can’t feasibly tow a car while someone’s in the process of parking it. And although it says vehicles that are being parked won’t be towed at the owner’s expense, maybe they’d charge someone else.”
She said, “You’ve lost your mind. Again. I’m going to buy you one of those wallet chains for it.”
Now she was pointing at the sign. “It says you’re not allowed to park there and if you do you have to pay the bill when they tow it.”
She’s so cute when she doesn’t understand punctuation.
I gave her a wet willie.
She’s so cute when she reaches into her purse for her can of pepper spray.
I adopted my burning bush voice to make it all clear to her.
“That sign clearly states that while an owner is in the process of parking his — though could be her — car, truck or RV — though could be electric scooter — said owner will not accrue any financial obligation if said vehicle is towed.”
I steepled my fingers and continued in a most thoughtful manner.
“And yet, can a vehicle genuinely be towed during parking? It’d be in motion. Difficult, but not impossible. They refuel bombers in flight. So let’s say they can. That leaves but a single ambiguity: Would they charge someone other than the owner? That remains unclear.”
Mrs. Cool Kid looked irritated. “That sign says, ‘No parking. Vehicles will be towed at owner’s expense.’ And you know it.”
I shook my head.
“It says, ‘No parking vehicles will be towed at owner’s expense.’ I don’t know much, but I know that.”
“The ‘no parking’ part is bigger,” she said. “And there’s a line under those two words.”
She pointed the pepper spray at me. “And, by God,” she said, “I’ll have you admit it.”
“Never!” I cried out. “Communication driven by randomly fluctuating type size? Grammar enslaved to the placement of horizontal scrawls? I won’t have it. Standardized punctuation now! Standardized punctuation forever!”
“OK,” she said. “You’re right. You’re always right. I’ve never known you ... OH MY GOD!”
I quickly turned my head to see what she was looking at.
Giving me a wet willie wasn’t very cute of her.