I’ve found in my travels — and in the travels of other humans to visit my nearby vicinity — that people have a lot of misconceptions about the city of Boston. Having lived here for a dozen years now, I’ve been disabused of any misconceptions myself. I have a clear and concise understanding of all things Beantown, which I’m happy to share for your further edification. It’s now time for me to disabuse you.
Bend over. This might hurt a little.
Boston Misconception #1: Winter lasts for nine months here, with snow and frigid temperatures daily.
This is probably the biggest knock on Boston from afar — “It’s too COOOOOOLD there! I’ll freeze my precious tuckus off!”
Allow me to set the record straight. I moved here after seven years in Pittsburgh, and I’m happy to report that it does not, in fact, get significantly colder in Boston than it does in a relatively temperate mid-Atlantic location like “the ‘Burgh”.
(Also, your tuckus? Not especially precious. Particularly in those pants. Sorry.)
Of course, it does stay cold longer in Boston than in anywhere this side of Mrs. Claus’ frigid underbloomers. So it might snow in April (as it has), or freeze in September (which it probably will), but it’s not as though the temperature is ‘Eskimovian‘ during the whitening season. Just in the twenties or so, mostly. And some days, it doesn’t even snow. Much.
Unless it does, and then it dumps like a flock of diarrheal pigeons taking turns unloading on a freshly washed Beemer. But that’s only once, twice a week, tops.
Okay, fine. Let’s just call this a ‘practice misconception’ and move on. I’m getting the hang of this, I swear.
Boston Misconception #2: That whole ‘tea party’ thing is still a pretty big deal.
“Sure, the Boston Tea Party caused a bit of a minor stir back when it happened. Don’t tread on me, viva la revolution, we hold these truths, yadda yadda yadda.”
Sure, the Boston Tea Party caused a bit of a minor stir back when it happened. Don’t tread on me, viva la revolution, we hold these truths, yadda yadda yadda. Putting a foot down over the rising price of oolong was a major factor in goosing the Colonies toward building a nation of their own.
(I would have guessed beer would drive us over the edge first. Who’d have thought the rousable rabble would go more for orange pekoe than oatmeal stout?)
But is the whole leaf-heaving mess something we dwell on today? Nah. Not really.
Oh sure, there are tourist attractions and guide books and commemorative plastic lapel pins available in the gift shop as you exit — but the nouveau tea party movement that’s all the rage this cycle isn’t coming from here, mostly. It’s centered over in the middle of the country, in places like Kentucky, apparently.
(Kentucky? And tea? I don’t get it, either. It’s not the ‘Bourbon Party movement’, fer crissakes. Weird.)
As for the locals, we appear to have gotten over our collective aversion to tariffs and levees, and headed in the other direction. They don’t call it ‘Taxachusetts’ for nothing. And the price of Earl Gray around here is scandalous.
Boston Misconception #3: Bostonians are jealous of New Yorkers.
This just simply isn’t true. It appears to be a nasty rumor perpetrated by Manhattanites — probably hatched and texted around while they’re stuck in gridlock rush hour traffic.
In reality, the two towns are distinct enough to foster strong preferences for one or the other — but hardly jealousy of what the other has going on. If you want an academic atmosphere, distributed green space and roads that take thirty-seven years to build and never have their potholes patched, you come to Boston. If you’re more interested in metropolitan boom, one big-assed park and getting felt up, propositioned or drooled on in a subway car, then NYC is the place for you. I don’t see the controversy, frankly.
I will admit that there have been times in history when the Boston-New York sports rivalries got a bit heated — and were pretty one-sided, in the New Yahkahs’ favor. But the times for green Boston envy have passed. The Pats and Giants and Jets have all enjoyed recent success. Ditto the Rangers and Bruins. And there’s nothing about the Nets or Knicks that’s particularly covet-worthy.
Of course, you could make the case that the Red Sox and their feeble limp out of the gate might currently be ‘jealous’ of the Yankees. But please. The way the Sox are going right now, they’re jealous of the fricking Kansas City Royals. That’s not a thing. That’s just sad.
Boston Misconception #4: Everyone for miles around graduated from MIT or Harvard.
Sometimes it does seem that everyone you run into around here is some kind of PhD brain surgeon designing three-stage rockets and programming sentient robots in their spare time.
Then you get them behind the wheel of a car, and you find that these Massholes are idiots on the road, just like everyone else. Failing to use your turn signal — one of the two great social equalizers for those of us who lurched our way through a paltry liberal arts degree.
(The other, of course, being the atomic wedgie. Though those were much more effective back before the brainiacs became celebrated published authors or Nobel Prize-winning physicists. Or partners in large local law firms. Those can be some awfully expensive stretched-out elastic waistbands.
Totally worth it. But awfully expensive.)
Boston Misconception #5: Local folks call Boston ‘Beantown’, as per the intro paragraph.
I still fall into this trap, because I didn’t grow up here — and ‘Beantown’ is just so gosh-darned cute. But I’ve been told by more than one local to ‘cut it aaaaht with that, kid‘.
I don’t know what the hell that means, exactly, but I take it as a sign of displeasure. Evidently, using ‘Beantown’ in Beantown is a bit of a faux pas.
I’ve never figured out quite why — though if you were going to nickname your local borough after a food, I can see where beans (beans, the magical fruit) might not top the list. You’d perhaps be more inclined to say you were from ‘Lobster Thermidoretown’ or ‘Ribeye Steakville’. Even ‘The Home of the Goop That They Make Chicken McNuggets From’, maybe. Though the bumper stickers would have to wrap all the way around the car for that one.
In fairness, Boston doesn’t have a whole lot of reputation to work with, foodwise. ‘Beantown’ may be out of favor, but it’s probably the city’s best bet for a culinary draw. Think about it — what other foods are associated with Boston?
We can’t very well call ourselves ‘Cream Pie Town’ with a straight face. ‘Chowderburg’ isn’t much better, if slightly less porny. And though the city used to produce a good bit of molasses, that gooey ship sailed quite a while back.
(Look. Twenty-one people died from being candied in warm sugar. There’s no coming back from that. The end of time will still be ‘too soon’.)
So no ‘Beantown’, if you please. And no more rumors or misconceptions about what goes on around here. If you’re really interested to know, come and visit the area. You’ll see that it’s just like anywhere else, mostly.
We’ll just clear the latest blizzard out of a parking space for you, help you get a loan to pay the out-of-towner meter luxury tax, dodge the Einsteins driving over the curb at us, slip into our best ‘Yankees Suck’ T-shirts for dinner, and take you out for a nice local specialty. Baked beans, say. Maybe some chowder. I think we have a place that makes Chicken McNuggets, too. Though the import tariff on those things is outrageous.
I think you get the picture. I’m so glad we had this little talk.Permalink | 3 Comments