It’s happened to every driver: You’re completely parked in. Someone wedged their car right in front of yours; someone else pulled up right behind you, so close that your bumpers are nearly touching. You’re facing an impossible parallel-parking extrication. And to top it all off: Paparazzi are watching.
Such was the situation that faced Ben Affleck, star of tabloid and screen, when he returned to his Mercedes after a Dunkin’ run in Brentwood, California. In front, a blue Altima; behind him, a red sedan. Mere centimeters of space on either side. Ben smoked a cigarette and considered his options. “I’m a celebrity—get me out of here (this parking place),” his expression seemed to say.
The press has been, of course, merciless. “HELP, MY CAR’S STUCK!!!” screamed the TMZ headline. “Another Rough Day for Ben Affleck,” groaned the Cut. “The king of despair,” the post explained, “found himself in the nightmarish scenario of attempting to wiggle his Mercedes-Benz out of a parking spot.”
I don’t think it was a nightmare at all. I think as Ben Affleck smoked his cigarette, he was not, in any way, bemoaning cruel fate. I think Ben Affleck considers himself, as do all middle-aged dads, a professional parallel parker. I think he was getting ready for his moment to shine.
For in fact, Ben Affleck makes his way out of that space with aplomb. He cuts the wheel right and backs up. He cuts the wheel left and moves forward. Systematically, inch by inch, he escapes from his predicament, carefully but with supreme confidence. Rocking back and forth, always cognizant of the traffic to his left, he delivers a textbook parallel-unparking demonstration. It’s all done so masterfully I’m sort of surprised he didn’t smoke the cigarette afterward. I mean, just look:
Yes, of course he “appears to touch both the car in front of him and the one behind him multiple times,” as the Cut tsk-tsks. Allow me to roll my eyes and say, “Big whoop.” Any experienced city driver understands that, when you are parked in like that, you have not only the right but the obligation to deliver gentle taps to the fenders of the cars on either end. If not, how are you ever to get out? City drivers, real city drivers, understand that a few light dings are the price of doing business in the cutthroat world of urban parallel parking. If you don’t want a love tap from Ben Affleck, you shouldn’t get so close to him in the first place.
Bravo, Ben Affleck. Life is not cruel, as some would have it. Life gives us moments to succeed, indeed to shine—and it’s our job to seize them. On this day, in this car, faced with this task, you showed what you are made of.