In the course of this date night, many of our plans have gone awry: we’ve learned that the restaurant owner’s son has suddenly passed away, Mother Goose got a headache and passed out at the new movie she was so excited to see, and now upon returning to their car, the couple realizes that the ever-vigilant City of Chicago has spotted their unlawful vehicle and placed a “Chicago Boot” upon it.
Please sit back for a little history lesson from Mother Goose…
On September 16, 1987, the City of Chicago established a vehicle immobilization program, more commonly known as the boot program. This new procedure came in response to the many millions of scofflaws in the city — those people who receive multiple parking tickets and “photo op” red light tickets and yet feel no compulsion to pay for their crimes.
Once a parked vehicle has been identified as belonging to one of these scofflaw types, the city will show up at the parking scene and attach an iron boot to the front left tire of the vehicle which not only disables the car/truck but also prompts the owner of said vehicle to come clean on their debts to society.
In 1989, long before he was the husband of a goose, Mark received an undeserved parking ticket on the windshield of his Mercedes-Benz. I believe he thought that if he ignored it, it would go away. Admittedly, as the years went by, he began to feel some degree of guilt about not paying that parking fine, but he learned to live with the guilt.
Many years passed like sand through an hourglass, and he acquired other parking tickets attached to the windshields of other cars — cars with different license plates, with different registrations and addresses, different makes and models. Again, there was no payment of fines or escalating fees.
His guilt grew — as large and poisonous as a rattle snake around his neck, a hideous laughing monkey on his back — and he was in constant distress as he drove into the city. Would he be spotted by the authorities? Could he park anywhere and be safe? Forever looking over his shoulder, could he live with himself and this life of crime that negligence had carved out for him?
Finally on this date night with Mother Goose, the law had indeed caught up with the outlaw.
“Your car has been booted.”
We had a few minutes of silence as Mother Goose bit her tongue, and Husband Goose plotted how to get the “urgent” goose home and how to proceed with the legal removal of the boot. We finally admitted that we had no choice but to call the grown children of the goose to arrange for a rescue operation. Sick with humiliation and the need to find a bathroom, Mother Goose texted Jessi who texted Ben, and together they bravely fired up the Goosemobile for a quick midnight flight into the city.
Jessi and Ben had just arrived home from another flight — to the extreme western suburbs of the city to attend a minor league baseball game with their father. I was most fortunate to have caught them before they retired for the evening… Ben was the designated driver, his sister the designated navigator and they expediently took off to rescue their mother who was in such distress. Side note: Ben has never driven in the city, much less at night…
Mother Goose was now in such distress that it was time to take drastic measures. Gathering all of her wits and throwing her bag over her shoulder, she loudly announced, “I am going to find a bathroom.” Off she marched in the general direction of La Creperie, hoping that the late night crowd on the streets of the city would part in order for her to find her destination in time.
Unfortunately, as she approached the bittersweet French bistro for the second time that evening, she realized that the lights were off, the patrons and proprietor had left for the night and a yellow chair stood on the inside of the locked door.
Mother Goose hung her head low and turned around. Resigned to return to the booted car and the inevitable long wait for the young rescuers, she hurried along the dark streets avoiding eye contact with every person she met but listening with great interest to their conversations.
I safely completed my journey back to the booted Cadillac. Crossing my legs, I waited with Husband Goose. Quietly.
My young heroes arrived in due time, swooping in to pick us up and head back to the nest. Ben drove confidently through the city streets, onto Chicago’s famous Lake Shore Drive and even through the underground portion of Wacker Drive where the amazing night chase scene from The Dark Knight was filmed. Of course, Ben is a better driver than either Batman or Joker so we navigated through that section of the city with no further incidents or parking tickets.
The date night ended. Mother Goose ran speedily into the house and down the hall, just in time…
It may have gone awry, but again, another unforgettable evening with Mother Goose.
The next day we went to the city to pay our dues. Mother Goose was relieved to hear that Husband Goose would not need to do any hard time for the crimes he had committed against the city authorities. And then we returned to the scene of the crime to await the removal of the boot.
Obvious lessons learned, we can now drive happily and park freely throughout the Chicagoland area.
Who’s excited for the next date night with Mother Goose?