My son: already a better parallel parker than I am. And awfully smug about it.Scientists believe that pregnancy affects spatial awareness. A woman’s pinballing hormones temporarily shrivel her hippocampus, turning the brain region that’s responsible for memory and spatial navigation into an entity roughly as reliable as a stylist at SuperCuts.
If there were a Hippocampus Olympics, my wife would be the sprinter that everyone assumes is doped up. She’s faster and stronger than the rest of the field, knows all and remembers all and is in control of everything.
Part of this is genetics; for example she comes from a long line of parallel parking braggarts. Her father, a physicist preternaturally talented in this arena, taught her “a system,” the mechanics of which elude me, but seem to mostly involve him telling me I’m doing it wrong. Whatever The System, it works: Both father and daughter are able to squeeze a Hummer into a spot fit for a Big Wheel, and pull out of that spot tighter than Joan Rivers’s face without dinging the car in front of you like I always do.
Apparently, I park like a pregnant woman. Because the other day, Sarah attempted to pull out of a spot and crunched the car in front of her, then nudged the car behind her. Alarms, flashing lights. Then: again, the Chicago Crunch, only harder. It was like a lot like this, but without the 4.2 million viewer hits.
When she noticed me trying not to laugh, she shrugged. “That’s what the bumper’s for,” she said without the slightest embarrassment, or interest in The System. Then she burped and drove off, leaving two wailing, flashing cars in her wake. The only explanation for the episode was her shrinking hippocampus. But more than spatial awareness, I have a sneaking suspicion that pregnancy more dramatically affects whatever part of the brain gives a shit about things like other people’s bumpers.
Photograph: Courtesy of Jeff Ruby