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Below the Beltway

By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, November 10, 2002; Page W11

Today's first runner-up in the category of Distinguished Ultra-Male Behavior goes to Bernie Crane, 49, of Fairfax. I became aware of Mr. Crane's great male achievement via an e-mail sent to me and others by Mr. Crane himself, under the subject line "GREAT MALE ACHIEVEMENT!!!"

I almost erased this e-mail unread because, in my experience, most unsolicited e-mails with subject lines like "GREAT MALE ACHIEVEMENT!!!" wind up involving opportunities for personal growth, if you get my drift. But this was legit.

(Illustration by Richard Thompson)

I read the e-mail explaining the achievement and then opened the attachment, which was a photograph of the achievement. Then I phoned Bernie.

Bernie, please tell the readers how you earned your coveted first runner-up status.

"I parallel-parked my car in a space so tight that when I was done the bumpers of my car were touching the bumpers of cars in front and behind. People who were watching applauded."

When I expressed some skepticism, observing not only that such an act seemed geometrically impossible but that such an arrangement of parked cars could be easily ginned up for a photo, Bernie:

1. Indignantly informed me that as a lawyer and officer of the court, he is incapable of lying.

2. Fired off eight more photos he took at the scene, extreme close-ups of the kissing bumpers.

3. Disclosed his secret, which involved "just the slightest bit of nudging forward and rolling back," none of which, he emphasized, was sufficiently violent as to constitute an actionable assault upon the property of others.


4. Offered to take a polygraph.

My car mechanic, Phil, confirms that the feat would be possible so long as both adjacent cars had their emergency brakes on. Their tires would remain locked in place, allowing each chassis to shift several inches on its suspension, then sproing back.

Bernie explained that it took him about six minutes--and 15 or 16 back-and-forth maneuvers--to get his minivan into the spot.

I asked if he had a sense he was doing something Very Special.

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