To park, you need a pair of antlers

Every summer, I give up my bay of our two-car garage to my husband's motorcycle. (Jeff can't give up his bay – it's his workshop.) At first frost, Jeff puts his motorcycle in storage, cleans up any mess he made, and the right side of the garage is mine again.

This year, our arrangement came with a new twist.

Before moving my car into the newly vacated space, Jeff asked me to come in and inspect the area. Near the front of the bay, Jeff had hung a tennis ball at the end of an orange string so that it hung four feet from the ceiling. Jeff then showed me a green dot that he'd put on the inside of my windshield. "All you have to do," he said, "is line up the dot with the tennis ball."

I have a problem parking the car squarely in my bay.

When we'd first added the garage, I didn't think I had a use for it. Its main purpose was to serve as Jeff's workshop and give us some extra storage space.

All my life I'd lived and parked without a garage. Snow and ice? No problem. I'm a New Englander. Cleaning off the car first thing in the morning is part of the whole winter experience. Jeff assured me that parking in a garage is a step up. He said I didn't know what I was missing.

So I tried it. The first impediment was maneuvering the car through the garage door. (Our two-car garage has two garage doors.) Every day I drove in ever so slowly, afraid I might hit one of my side mirrors.

When I mentioned this to one of our neighbors, he said to think of the side mirrors as antlers. It worked. Thinking of myself as one with the car and the mirrors as antlers gave me the image I needed to drive confidently through the middle of the opening.

Then came the ice and snow. This was no problem if it snowed at night, while the car was in the garage. But when it snowed while I was out and the car came home with some of the white stuff still on it, the garage floor developed melted-snow puddles.

Jeff is fairly meticulous about his garage. Every tool and fastener is in its place. NASCAR posters, gas-station logos, and street signs, are all professionally leveled. The puddles just wouldn't do.

Jeff bought what I can only describe as a huge rectangular rubber mat with raised edges on the two long sides. He instructed me to park on it. The trick was to place the car between the two raised edges. This way, the melted snow could fall into the mat and Jeff could happily squeegee it away.

Although the antler metaphor worked perfectly when driving the car through the door, parking in the middle of the mat was more difficult. And sometimes I drove in a bit too far – doing no lasting damage to any of Jeff's possessions, thank goodness.

This year, Jeff came up with the tennis-ball-and-sticker idea. The first few times I tried it, I was off the mark by a good four to six inches. I didn't know how to make the two line up. My antler creature couldn't comprehend this concept.

My husband told me to try to aim for the ball and concentrate. The next day, my right side-view mirror hit the side of the garage door opening. I couldn't manage my antlers and aim for the ball at the same time.

Then Jeff told me the secret. "You have to aim for the ball after you get through the doors." OK. So, slowly I drive through the door, antlers intact. Then I bear slightly to the right ... no, to the left ... no, to the right.

Success. The dot and tennis ball connect. I did it.

After a week of trying, I finally mastered parking in the garage to my husband's new specifications.

All in all, I think it's easier to scrape ice off the windshield.

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