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They're Baaa-aaaack!

Summertime in Boston is pretty sweet. It's rarely too hot or humid, the Red Sox haven't yet executed their annual swan dive out of the playoffs, and the nine-foot snowdrifts of the winter before are but a hazy memory. Mostly, though, the summers around here are nice because you can actually get a decent table at most bars or restaurants without being squished into a corner and having three strangers' asses in your face.

Those days are gone. For another nine months, at least.

"Labor Day weekend is always a zoo around here. It's sort of like enduring a plague of locusts, if locusts wore iPods and Skechers and cotton gym shorts with words on the asses."

This weekend, the first wave of students at Boston's apprixamtely six thousand colleges began streaming back to the city. Driving through the outskirts of the city this afternoon, the streets were clogged with U-Hauls, conversion vans, and SUVs packed to the gills with milk crate bookshelves, hand-me-down couches, and bags of fresh laundry. This was an advance team -- only a couple of schools are back in session next week. The real flood of frat boys and bookworms will come in a few days. Labor Day weekend is always a zoo around here. It's sort of like enduring a plague of locusts, if locusts wore iPods and Skechers and cotton gym shorts with words on the asses.

Surviving the initial traffic jams and parking nightmares is just the beginning, though. For the next nine months, nary a bar stool or eatery booth will be vacant for long in the college area of town. And given that Boston sports almost as many institutions of higher learning as it has Irish pubs, 'the college area' translates roughly to 'everywhere between Maine and Connecticut that's not covered with water'.

I don't mind the students, per se. I remember my school days, and frankly wish there'd been a cool city like Boston wrapped around my old campus. Plus, if you've read much of anything here, you know that I think like a nineteen-year-old on a good day. So I'm certainly not put off or offended by any collegiate shenanigans. Hell, if you get a good game of 'three man' going, I might even join in. Provided I can play with Guinness. And I can take a nap afterward. And possibly call in sick to work the next day.

But the point is not my advancing age, my waning tolerance, or my inability to recapture the glory days of my liver's youth. The point is that I don't mind having college-aged kids around the city. They tend to have the same interests I do, cheer for the local teams just as rabidly, and they're sometimes useful to sell my old furniture to. Who else would pay money for that couch with one broken leg and the mysterious greasy armrest stain? Nobody, that's who.

(What was that stain, anyway? Did I drop a slice of pizza? Let the dog lick Cheez Whiz off the armrest? Accidentally smoosh a hamster on it? I haven't the foggiest idea. But it has been a while since Mr. Whiskers got out of his cage, and I haven't seen him since.)

My only beef with the annual academic influx is that there are just so damned many of those kids coming back. There are kids from Boston College, Boston U., Harvard, MIT, Northeastern, Tufts, Babson, Brandeis, Curry, Emerson... the list goes on and on. Between September and June every year, you can't swing a dead cat around here without smacking a 'General Studies' major or some bleary-eyed sophomore cramming for a test. Not that I do a lot of dead cat swinging, mind you -- but I'd appreciate a little more elbow room, to get full carcass extension. I don't think that's too much to ask.

I guess the population fluctuation is just an occupational hazard of living and working around Boston. And there are plenty of 'scholarly' amenities (read: dive bars and cheap pizza joints) that I enjoy, and which wouldn't exist here if not for our degree-seeking friends. That still doesn't mean I want to squeeze past every last one of the bastards to get to the rest room, or on the way to the bar to buy a drink. Maybe I can finagle a deal to work from home, and hibernate until the kids are gone again. It's either that, or start spending weekend nights in New Hampshire. And where the hell am I going to find 'quarter draft' nights up there?

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They started school here last week. In Orlando, we have only a few schools. I remember move in days at Ohio State and I don't remember it being that incredibly horrid. I just remember going to the 7-11 my first day on campus and being able to legally buy beer (Ohio was an 18 state for 3.2 beer & wine). But last Saturday the wife and I had to go to Target. It was busier than Black Friday and I think we were the only folks without the official door move-in list.
The store was licked over, even the windex was gone and you know the only time the windex is ever going to be used is when there mom does the initial cleaning. The movie theatre was packed and there wasn't a seat to be had at my favorite watering hole. Maybe the hurricane will send them home for a few days.

Okay, so if you haven't yet, you really need to check out the song "They Came to Boston" by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones off their Bad in Plaid album, released so long ago I'm embarassed to admit I used to see them and 3 other ska bands for five bucks a pop. But check out the song.

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