Another Friday night, another summer concert, this time a Beach Boys cover band close to home. I loaded up my little red wagon and drove to Livorna Park in Alamo. The band wouldn’t start until 6:30, but I left home at 5:00 so that I could park close by and get a spot in the shade.
The thermometer read 95 degrees, and the state had multiple fires going, from Lake County to San Diego. I had filled up the dogs’ water bowl and left them in a cool house, even though I hadn’t turned on the AC. 16 inches of blown-in attic insulation a few years back kept my house cool and comfortable, as long as I shut the windows every morning and pulled the drapes on the windows facing west.
I brought two ice teas, two sodas, a bottle of wine, and some crackers. No fancy dinners for me! I rolled my little wagon to a spot in the grass as far away from the speakers as I could and took out my lawn chair and folding table. The place was filled with vacant lawn chairs and picnic blankets.
“I’m saving this spot for six people,” an older woman said, standing nearby.
“You need to put down a blanket,” I said.
“Could you move up a little?” she asked.
I scooched my chair up a foot. I quickly set up the table to save a spot for my girlfriend who was coming separately.
As soon as I sat down and got comfortable in my chair an older man was picking up my table and moving it forward, closer to the stage in the gazebo.
“You don’t mind, do you?” he said. “We need to fit six people here.”
I inched up my chair a tiny bit but did not fully cooperate with the pushy guy. I left my red wagon where it was and opened up my Tejava. As I sat there physically guarding my spot, I overheard two guys behind me talking about my dancing friend, El. I was right in front of the meet-up group.
I was biding my time when the same older woman came up behind me and whispered in my ear.
“We are going to move to the other side so as not to crowd you,” she said.
“Oh, okay, thanks,” I said.
I glanced across the wide sidewalk that would later become the dance floor and saw the six people setting up with their coolers, reclining lawn chairs with feet rests, and one large dog. They took up twice the space that the woman was trying to hold down by herself with no equipment.
No one in Clayton, Concord, Moraga, Orinda, San Ramon, or Pleasant Hill has ever touched my stuff while asking me to move. Only in my hometown are people entitled and gutsy enough to do so.
It was just two days after the 4th of July and all those years of fighting for a spot along the parade route:
The policeman who screamed at me to move my family off the median in the middle of the road. As soon as we did, another family moved into that spot as the policeman kept walking up Hartz Ave.
The woman who moved in front of our curbside seats with four small children right when the parade was starting and blocked my kids’ spot.
The man who stood with his bicycle right in front of our open hatchback when we backed in the Suburban along the route so that the baby could crawl around while we watched the parade.
The woman who screamed at me in front of my own store about her spot along the flowerbed wall. I climbed into the flower bed, took down my store sign, and set up my chairs where the sign had been hanging. Boy, was she surprised when I did that.
This is the town where people wait on the sidewalk with ropes, chalk, chairs and blankets until 6:00 p.m. the night before the parade, so they can lay claim to the same spot they’ve had every year for thirty years. Now that the kids are grown, I don’t fight the crowds at the parade anymore.
I am not a confrontational person, but I will not be bullied by a Medicare senior who feels entitled to all the vacant grass. Get over yourself, Lady.
And next time bring a really big blanket.
Couldda Wouldda Didda
I didn’t let that little old lady from Pasadena push me out of my spot.