Friday, January 04, 2013

The Mona Lisa was the only one still smiling

One morning last month we had breakfast with some friends in Manitou Springs. Manitou Springs is a funky little mountain town at the base of Pikes Peak filled with great restaurants and eclectic shops--some of our faves include the Penny Arcade and Adams Mountain Cafe.

We were driving home from breakfast that day and passed The Mona Lisa, a fondue restaurant I've always wanted to try. I guess I've mentioned that to John a time or two ten because he suggested we try to have dinner there one night while his parents were here visiting. I readily agreed and made a reservation--because it's that kind of restaurant. 

Our date was last Sunday evening. We left the house early and did a little bit of post-Christmas shopping before heading down to Manitou Springs. It was getting dark and most of the shops were closing so we quickly found a parking place--an amazing parking place, by the way--and wandered in and out of the few shops that remained open before heading over to The Mona Lisa.

Our dining experience was everything we'd hoped it would be. Delicious. Quaint. Romantic. Definitely an evening to remember. About mid-way through our meal, a couple on their honeymoon was seated close by and we realized that it was December 30, which meant it was our half-anniversary and we have been married exactly 22.5 years. (That's neither here nor there...just something I wanted to remember).

We snapped this photo as were were leaving the restaurant--a happy reminder of a near-perfect evening. 
A near perfect evening. OR SO WE THOUGHT!

We exited The Mona Lisa and started heading in the direction of our car. 

Only our car was nowhere to be found. It was G-O-N-E.

That's a very bad feeling, y'all. A very very very very bad feeling.

Immediately I panicked. Several years ago, my van was broken into and I am hyper-worried about a repeat incident. I immediately assumed John's car had been stolen and my mind started racing with multiple scenarios, none with happy outcomes.

John isn't a freaker-outer like me (thank God) so he calmly suggested that maybe we weren't remembering our parking place correctly and suggested we keep walking.

About that time, an older couple approached us (must have been the dumbfounded look on our faces as we stared at an empty parking place) and asked: "Black Acura?" We nodded. The gentleman informed us that it had been towed about twenty minutes prior. He explained that a police officer was going door-to-door and checking shops and restaurants up and down the street looking for the car's owner but ultimately it had to be towed because he was unable to locate us. 

TOWED! Our car had been towed while we were obliviously having a nice long, romantic meal.


Fortunately, the Manitou Springs police department was only a block or two from The Mona Lisa so we walked down there to see what we needed to do to locate our car. The (gruff) receptionist called the police officer who was looking for us and he arrived shortly. He explained that we were parked illegally, which we'd already figured out by that time. In our defense, it wasn't clearly marked (even the officer admitted that) and the no parking lines were covered with ice and snow. For that reason he didn't ticket us (thankful for that!) but we were blocking a residential entrance and the owner was raising a ruckus (as would I) so towing was his only option. He tried to locate us like the gentleman on the street had said but stopped just short of The Mona Lisa (our luck!). He even tried getting our phone number from the license/registration on the car and calling but we don't have a home phone and neither of our cell phones are listed. He tried his very best not to tow us and we could tell he felt terrible about it. We honestly didn't know we were parked illegally until the car was gone and we started analyzing things. You'd think it would be obvious if you were blocking a residential entrance, wouldn't you? Yeah, that caught us very off-guard because it wasn't obvious at all.
We thought about calling John's dad to come get us and take us to our car, but decided it was quicker and easier to just call a cab. The cab driver turned out to be a very nice divinity student who talked our ear off for the ten minute cab ride to the tow lot. At least he was nice.

The tow lot couldn't have been in a scarier part of town. And the lot attendant (who I'm pretty sure had more tattoos than teeth) had me shaking in my UGGs. After what seemed like an eternity and after forking over an obscene amount of money, we finally had possession of our car once again, though now it reeked of tow-truck grit and cigarette smoke. Awe.Some.

If you're familiar with the movie A Christmas Story you might recall a scene where Ralphie starts beating the snot out of Scott Farkus and from his mouth proceeds a a seemingly endless stream of profanity. Remember? Great. Now substitute John for Ralphie and the steering wheel of his car for Scott Farkus and you'll have a snapshot of our drive home. In hindsight it was pretty hilarious.

Thank goodness we could laugh about it. We had to. The alternative was to cry.

You don't even want to know how much cash (ch-ch-ch-ch-ching!) we dropped that evening. Let's just say that it was a WHOLE LOT. Enough to make us both sick to our stomachs for the remainder of the evening and to go down in John and Mer history as THE MOST MEMORABLE AND EXPENSIVE DATE EVER. Pretty sure the only one still smiling at the end of the evening was The Mona Lisa. 


Elizabeth said...

Oh my goodness-that is a crazy story!

Miss G said...

Oh man! I'm sooo sorry! Kelly

Diane Meyer said...

Please tell me that a small trade -off was that you knew if would be a great blog post. Because it is. You couldn't have ended it better than you did. Mona Lisa...ha!

Gina said...