Monday, September 20, 2010

The Town and the City

I have a love/ hate relationship with Boston.

This New England girl came home to roost last weekend when I made the glacial journey in a bus full of enthusiastic Asian college students to visit my life partner Brooke D. She recently moved to enroll in a prestigious law school in the City on a Hill. Isn't it inspiring, democratic even, that Phoneix University now offers law degrees? I tried to explain to her that she didn't need to relocate for an online degree, but there was just no convincing her. She was really just looking for an excuse to file for undergraduate housing.

The things I love about Boston are limited to a few base pleasures. Like the fact that you can go to a club in pajamas and face scrubbed clean of any make- up and still command the attention of the room. If you deign to dress above and beyond the standard issue uniform of North Face fleece, Red Sox baseball hat, and Mom jeans to accentuate your FUPA, then you are a veritable fashion icon.
Whenever I'm inside the city limits of Boston, I will without fail be called "Paris Hilton" at least half a dozen times. Apparently no one in Boston has seen a statuesque blond before. The only other time I get this comparison is from the urban youth I teach, and they have an excuse. I am the only real- life Caucasian they have ever met. But there is one difference between me and Ms. Hilton: I would never mistake cocaine for a pack of gum.

Boston is not short on ignorami philistine white trash, or what we politely refer to as "lace curtain Irish," and it is long on heterosexual males. Allegedly, some of these fabled creatures reside in New York City, but they are as rare as a wizard unicorn. A charmless, unemployed leper can score a super hot girlfriend in NYC. But in Boston they make up for in quantity (they are everywhere) what they lack in quality (they might beat you up or wear Timberlands unironically). They are everywhere! But everywhere! They go out in packs in their traditional costume of chin strap facial hair, St. Christopher medal necklace, Celtics jersey, cargo shorts, and white sneakers. Think Pauly D crossed with a leprechaun.
Testosterone pours into the ether like Drakkar Noir cologne at a junior high dance. As a result, I saw three dudes leave a bar in handcuffs on Saturday night. That's right, I was thinking the same thing: major turn- on.

If I were to list the things I hate about Boston, I would have to start a satellite blog.

A smattering:

- Bad imitations of Boston accents: There are actually no parking spaces in Harvard Yard, it is purely a pedestrian zone. In both senses of the "pedestrian."

- Lack of civility: In Boston you can wear sweatpants to a funeral. Your best muumuu to your child's open school night. On Saturday evening in Boston's alleged "nightlife" district I saw a herd of young women charging down the street in cocktail dresses and bare feet, their Steve Madden stilettos in hand. Perhaps Mike's Hahd Lemonade was giving away free samples.
- Racism. Don't let any Yankee tell you that northerners are enlightened when it comes to multicultralism. Boston is the most racist city in North America. It makes Birmingham, Alabama look like the Hague. I had a Mexican friend on a post doc at
Harvard, and he said he had never been treated so poorly in his life, and he is but a shade darker than a Werther's hard candy.

- Inflated self- confidence. Boston is like the stand- up comedian at a local open mic night who ruins dates and forces his audience to consider breaking their beer bottles and slashing off their ears. After a slow- clap of applause he runs backstage and cries, "I KILLED!" Boston has little sense of self.

- Provincialism. Boston thinks it is amazing because Boston has never been anywhere. Boston has never taken a vacation. Boston has never even visited FLAH- rida because Boston can't figure out how to book airplane tickets. If each city could be reduced to a single adjective, New York would be ANGER, San Francisco : LAZY, London : EMBARRASSED, and Boston : AFRAID. And it's sad.because deep down Boston really wants to escape the frigid tundra of its seasons and culture to Flah- rida, but worries that its credit card number might get hijacked if it purchased tickets on the internet, that terrorists might hijack the plane, or security might confiscate Boston's tweezers.

This is why Boston's supposed "rivalry" with New York is so tragic. Thousands of thin- lipped, alcoholics decry "the fahkin faggots down they-ah," all rooted in their pagan hero worship game of baseball. But Boston doesn't even cross New York's mind. It is a total non- entity. It's like every crush I had on every hotmaster in high school- he doesn't even know I'm alive.

But you see here's the most provincial thing about it. I am allowed to criticize this piss poor excuse for a city because I grew up 39 miles west Worcester, Massachusetts. Worcester is the punchline to many area jokes. Here's an example:
Q: What did the girl from Worcester say after sex?
A: Get off me dad, you're crushing my Marlboros!

But Worcester knows what it is: a rust belt city where your best prospect for life is
marrying a firefighter and working at the local sandpaper plant. A fitting metaphor for the abrasive character of its inhabitants, but it's all true. I am not nearly that skilled a rhetorician- Norton Abrasives was for a long time the city's biggest employer.
That's befoah they moved to fahkin' Mexico or some homo country down they-ah. I'm happy to stay in Wuhstah. Boston's too friggin' fancy anyway.

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