MITTYVILLE – A knock-down drag-out brawl broke out in the imagination of motorist Dave Van Bronks over the perceived theft of a parking space. Van Bronks, in his 1993 Plymouth Horizon, had recently entered the parking lot of the Maple Oaks Shopping Center when a shopper in a subcompact minivan swept in to take the empty space he had spotted and planned to occupy.
Before the invented rival could even exit the vehicle, Van Bronks pictured himself blocking the vehicle, leaping from his car, dashing to the driver’s side door and punching him out.
“I would have grabbed him by the shirt and socked him before he could even get his seatbelt undone,” said Van Bronks. “Of course, after I had already put my car in park and put the emergency brake on.”
Van Bronks has rehearsed similar make-believe fights around numerous other situations, such as traffic cut-offs, coffee machine etiquette breaches at work and disagreements at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Virtually all of them have ended just where they began, in his imagination.
“Sure, there’s this elaborate sequence of events I have mapped out in my head,” said Van Bronks. “But I take it that extra step and imagine the consequences of those actions. For example, that’s assault and battery we’re talking about. They will arrest you and put you on trial for that.”
Van Bronks credits his ninth grade gym coach, Buzz Warden, with bestowing him the wisdom to think things through.
“Coach Warden would always tell us, ‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.’ Those words have stuck with me ever since. I will tell you, though, the version of events in my mind went down completely awesome.”