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And the Rest.

July 2, 2008

It’s hard to believe it’s already Wednesday.  This usually happens to me when I’m on vacation – by the time I get around to the post-trip wrap-up, I’ve been home for days, even weeks – and on one occasion, months – before I finish.

After my spin around the lagoon in the Public Gardens, I returned to the hotel for a little R&R, then decided that I was going to do something spontaneous.  Well, the fact is, spontaneous is not a good look for me.  I like a plan, and I overthink everything.  So the evening didn’t go exactly as I thought it would.

Up the block from my hotel was a billiards and bowling place.  I like both those things, and thought that even if no one spoke to me, I’d have an activity to keep myself from looking like a complete loser.  I even held on to the hope that they could make me a strawberry daiquiri – the only alcoholic drink I can stomach.  Boston, while it loves the beer and the martini, doesn’t seem that keen on blended drinks.

Before I could talk myself out of it, I walked down the stairs into the bar, and saw that beyond it, in the bowling alley, they were having some kind of shindig.  I ventured a little closer to investigate, attracting a few looks from bar patrons.  I didn’t pack all that well for this trip, and wasn’t exactly dressed to impress.  When I saw that the event had something to do with marketing, I ducked back.  Now, maybe if I had a friend to crash the party with, and wasn’t guaranteed a spot along the wall with the other flowers, then I might have gone for it – but it’s unlikely.  I’m not a shy person, but my social skills are awkward at best, and inserting myself into a group of older, well-dressed strangers is outside my milieu.  

The bar itself was too dark, too reminiscent of scenes from movies that end badly.  So I climbed back up the stairs, trying my best to look like that was my intention the whole time, and went next door into the Summer Shack restaurant.  

Like most restaurants in Boston (and one of the reasons I could never settle there) it’s a seafood place.  Designed to look like a beach shack, I took a seat all by my lonesome at the bar made to look like a tiki hut, sipped some truly terrible iced tea, and waited for the bartender to notice me and take my order.

A guy sat down a few chairs away, and I glanced at him a couple times, the way I look at anything new that crosses my path.  He was Latino, I think, or maybe Italian, wearing baggy sport clothes, and he ordered a beer.  While I waited for my burger, I couldn’t help overhearing his whispered conversation with the bartender.  He wanted the bartender to do something for him.  Talk to a girl, I thought.  Maybe ask if he could buy her a drink.

I was the only single girl at the bar, and immediately I froze, thinking I must have given the guy a signal.  I wasn’t interested in anything but my dinner.  

I’ve never – seriously, never – been in a position where I’ve had to turn down someone’s advances, and I flew into full-blown panic mode.  It didn’t matter that the bartender was a big, beefy Bostonian, who, were I in any danger, would surely have come to my rescue.  It didn’t matter that we were surrounded by families and bright lights, and it didn’t matter that all I had to say was, “No, thank you.”  I don’t even drink.  None of that occurred to me. 

A burn started in my chest, right behind sternum, flaring up into my neck and jaw.  My thoughts flatlined, and I started planning my escape.  I couldn’t eat anymore, though there was half a burger and a pile of fries still on my plate.  Everything sat heavy on my stomach.  I felt like a rabbit waiting for the big bad predator to make his move, keeping him in my peripheral vision.


I’ve never been in a position where I’ve had to turn someone down – and I still haven’t been.  Because the guy wasn’t talking about me.  He was talking about the waitress behind me, who had a live-in boyfriend, but, the bartender agreed, was very pretty.

The relief was immediate.  I didn’t have to plan an evacuation, I didn’t have to worry about the guy following me out of the restaurant and attacking me down some dark alley.

And yet, when I entered the Summer Shack, and sat at the bar all by my lonesome, I wanted someone’s attention.  I wanted someone to offer to buy me a drink.  I just wanted that someone to be my Prince Charming, not a rabbitty little guy in an oversized baseball cap, who, it turned out, wasn’t all there in the head. 

After I rushed through dinner and quick-stepped out of the restaurant, I decided that I was still going to do something for the evening, and picked a movie.  The closest movie theater was by the Boston Common, not really within walking distance.  I asked the concierge how to get here, and was told to take the T – the subway green line.  

Having lived in Los Angeles my entire life, minus the months spent at school, I’m not really familiar with the subway.  Yes we have one, and I’ve even been on it once, but it’s not much use to someone who prefers the west side of the city.  I’ve ridden several of the major systems across the world, from the Bay Area BART, to the New York subway, the Chicago ‘L’, the London Tube, and the Paris Metro, but always with my father, who has an amazing sense of direction and can navigate any city like a native within five minutes of arriving.  

I tend to rely on MapQuest, and always leave early because I usually get lost at least once.

No MapQuest, so I was relying on the instructions of others.  First mistake.  It was about eight o’clock, but still light out, so the walk to the T station wasn’t bad.  Unfortunately while the concierge told me to take the green line to Boylston, he neglected to mention which direction to take it, and the maps weren’t particularly clear.  Inbound and Outbound mean absolutely nothing to me.

So, yeah, I got on going the wrong direction first.  Fortunately I realized my mistake by the first stop, and a nice lady helped me figure out what train I wanted.  It’s really not a trip with me if I don’t get turned around at least once.  I should travel with a compass.

When I got off the train, I was in exactly the right place, but couldn’t help noticing that there were no trains going back the way I came.  The subway lines changed there, and my green line disappeared.  I decided not to worry about that until after the movie.

The ticket machines wouldn’t take my money, so I ended up in the very long line, and saw WALL-E instead of Get Smart.  While waiting in said line, a guy (who was probably in his thirties) greeted me as if we were old friends, stepping inside my personal bubble.  I escaped him, only to have him find me in one of the largest theaters I’ve ever seen.  Then he offered me his popcorn.  Is this something men do?  Is it acceptable in other parts of the world to sit next to someone you don’t know in the movie theater and proffer food?  I found it creepy, rather than flattering.

WALL-E is everything I expect from Pixar, and more.  Though a bit heavy-handed with the eco-friendly message, and depressing with the human blobs, WALL-E, EVE, and the rest of their robot pals were adorable.  What’s most amazing about this movie, something discussed ad nauseam, I’m sure, is the fact that most of the movie is told without dialogue, and given that the expression and emotion has to be conveyed by CGI characters, it’s even more impressive.  What I love best about Pixar is their devotion to storytelling above all else.  Yes, their computer animation is amazing, but they care about their characters.

Returning to my adventure: the movie let out at 11:30.  I found a police officer in the lobby (on business, rather than pleasure, I assume since she was wearing her uniform) and told her I was trying to get to the Back Bay Hilton.  She heard ‘Back Bay’ and told me I could take the T station around the corner.  I followed a crowd of people out of the lobby to the station, and tried to figure out which direction I wanted to go.

Taking the train was no problem at all, of course.  The problem came when I discovered that it would let me off quite a ways away from my hotel.  There’s a commuter train that goes between that station and the hotel station – but it wasn’t running that late at night.

So I hailed a taxi.

Monday morning I had my Duck Tour.  The Duck is an amphibious craft used primarily in World War II.  Apparently they were considered disposable, so most of them never made it back to the US.  The few that are left have been re-commissioned for tours of various cities. 

It took us on a tour of the city first, slightly different from the trolley tour, but some of the information was the same.  I did get to see a piece of the Berlin Wall.  I didn’t realize the wall had been turned into souvenirs.

It’s always fun to take reflective pictures in the Hancock Tower.

Then the Duck swam into the Charles River.  

Apparently for a dollar, kids ages 8-18 who know how to swim can learn to sail on the river.

Our tour guide informed us that the entirely useless post-things on this bridge remind people of salt and pepper pots, which, of course, remind me of Daleks…

After the Duck Tour, I decided to visit the Boston Public Library, the first lending library in the country.  (They’re very proud of their ‘firsts’ in Boston.)  I have to say, if I lived there, I could easily see myself spending a lot of time in the library.  There’s a nice little courtyard, and plenty of places to sit inside, surrounded by books.  This, folks, is what all libraries should look like:

I took some pictures of Trinity Church as well, then wandered around looking for ice cream.  No luck, which surprised me.  Unfortunately, having paid for the 2-day trolley ticket, I decided to wait for it – melting in the process.  Later I discovered that I was in walking distance from the hotel, after, of course, waiting half an hour for the trolley, and then spending another hour and a half waiting for it to make the circuit back to my hotel.  I did get some ice cream out of the trip though, and wouldn’t have liked walking in the humidity much, so it was for the best.

I wanted to go to a show, but there’s no theater on Mondays.  Instead I did a little writing in the hotel, cooling off and chilling out.  Then I decided to get dinner at a restaurant I kept seeing from the trolley, and twisted my ankle on the uneven sidewalk.  ‘Mind the pavement,’ was our mantra in Europe, and proved equally useful in Boston.  

Since I had to be up at an ungodly hour to catch my plane, I went to bed pretty early – and ended up oversleeping a bit anyway.


Quote of the Day:

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere

-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere

Link of the Day: Interview with WALL-E writer/director Andrew Stanton

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