Before I stepped out of the car, I heard a thunderous bang. The way the inside of my car shook, I thought a tree branch had fallen on the roof.
As my daughter and I got out to survey the damage, an adorable girl with long, blonde hair and a lanky pre-teen frame ran over to us. "Oh my G-d, I'm so sorry. Are you okay? I'm so sorry. I am the worst pitcher."
She was penitent.
"It's okay," I said, wanting to make her feel better. "Accidents happen. You can't be that bad," I pointed to the dent, "looks like that ball had some speed."
She cracked a tentative smile. A man came up next to her and further apologized on her behalf.
I felt immediate relief. I was being cool. He was being cool. We could get through this scene without collateral damage.
"Let me get her father for you," he said.
I tried to look casual and relaxed as I watched them inform him. A handsome man with designer sunglasses, he looked vaguely familiar. I watched as the father looked at his daughter, looked at me, and looked at my car. I watched as his jaw got tight and a darkness fell over his expression.
And I waited.
I started feeling self-conscious. Was he going to come over? Was he going to leave me hanging there? Was he going to wait for me to give up and leave with my tail dragging between my legs?
For a moment, I did consider going. Ditching the imminent unpleasant confrontation and risk paying for the damage myself. But I crossed my arms against my chest instead and stood firm against the side of my car. Five minutes later he approached me.
"So, what do we have here," he said brusquely, as if he were a doctor and I was his hypochondriacal patient.
"The dent is right there above the window."
"I am so sorry," repeated the daughter.
The father stepped back. "You know," he told me, "parking in front of a baseball field is like parking in front of a golf course. You have to expect to get hit."
"So," I argued, as I pointed to all the cars densely parked on either side of me, "does that mean that all these people shouldn't have parked here either?"
"Look," I tried to make light of it so I could get the hell out of there, "I have no idea what it will cost to take care of that, why don't you just give me your phone number and we'll deal with it when I find out."
The father went to get a business card, which was in his car, which was parked three cars in front of mine.
"I don't have any cards with me," he said walking back.
I immediately recognized his name as I entered it into my iPhone. He was a Hollywood producer, at one time a very successful one, and a dad from my daughter's pre-school. I knew his wife. His daughter and my daughter were friendly. But it had been so many years that neither girl recognized each other. I did not let on that I knew who he was and he didn't bother asking my name. I could feel his patience dwindle as I tapped his phone number into my keypad.
"All right. I'll call you," I said as I put away the phone.
He walked off. The other man, who had been standing there the whole time, shrugged his shoulders in perplexed apology. The daughter, once again, apologized. I felt worse for her, figuring the brunt of her father's bad mood was going to hit her with the same force her bad pitch had hit my car.
I drove away feeling manipulated. Played. My mind pitching woulda, coulda, shoulda fast balls.
* * *
Today, I got two estimates for the repair. It turns out, the dent is located in a spot that is difficult to access and it is part of one huge piece that has to be taken off, replaced and repainted. The best estimate came to $1,000.
I did NOT want to call this guy and give him THAT number. I felt sick. I knew I should be more secure and not worry about being bullied by some slick, Hollywood producer...
But I asked my husband to do it.
And he said yes.