In Defense of… Bostonians

Posted on February 18, 2011

7


I exited with an indentation on my face in the shape of the strange geometric patterns only found on a plane seat.  It was 7am.  Entering the St. Louis airport, I felt my ponytail fall loose a little more with every step, my hair irritating the back of my neck.  My socks slipped off the back of my heels into a little wet ball inside my boots. I had not had coffee yet.

Erik waited for me outside the closest women’s room. I did not need to use the bathroom- I needed to look like a person. I chose a mirror that was 2 sinks away from anyone in either direction, unpacked my makeup bags, put my coat on the driest area of the counter, and began applying makeup.

One minute later, a smiling, maternal-looking woman used the sink next to me.  It’s a free country, I thought, although I couldn’t help scanning the row of empty sinks and wondering why the one next to me was so appealing.  She washed her hands slowly, smiling at herself in the mirror.  She openly watched me apply my eyeshadow, apparently interested in every stroke. There was a paper towel dispenser to her immediate right.  But she decided to use the one to my left- the one that my coat was underneath.

“Do you want to move your coat?” She was suddenly leaning very close to my face, way inside my personal comfort zone, “I would just hate to get it wet.  It’s such a nice coat. And I have to dry my hands.”

Meanwhile, I had eyeshadow on my fingers, a brush in my hands, and a pile of water by the sink that she had made with her merry hand-washing.  I made a neutral grimace that could be construed as a smile (I suppose), and grabbed my coat, stuffing it between my legs, and began applying blush.

“It’s such a nice coat.”  Her hands were dry now.  She was still there.

“Thanks.”

“Where did you get it? I’ve been needing a nice coat.  You know, for all this snow!”

Does she really want to talk about the weather? She was still there.  Is there something on my face? She smiled at me expectantly. Is she trying to sell me something? Then, Is she hitting on me? Then, No, she must be from out of state.

And that’s when I remembered- she was not out of state.  I was.  Her worst crime was simply that she was nice.  She was just a normal, friendly MidWesterner.  She thought she was safe.  How could she know that in the middle of the ladies room in the St. Louis terminal she had unwittingly stumbled across an under-slept, under-caffeinated Masshole?

When another woman started washing her hands in the sink next to me and commented on my purse, I ran out of the bathroom, no longer caring about the state of my face.

Compare that with a conversation I had with a ten-year-old Bostonian just last week.  Her eyes are bright blue and sparkling with mischievousness, her hair is cut short and blond with a little swing at the ends, but don’t you dare call her cute.  She is smarter than you (or maybe it’s just me), and is going to be attending Harvard someday in order to jump start her career as a neurosurgeon.

While visiting her family, her mother let me know that her daughter had a beautiful singing voice.  I was not surprised.  She was obviously a brilliant, hard-working ten year old with the uncanny idiosyncrasies of a 35 year old woman.

“I sang in the Revels.” She told me.

“Wow! That’s great!” I told her with a huge smile.  I wince to think I may even have leaned forward with my hands on my knees.

Her eyes darkened a little. “Wait.  Do you even know what the Revels are?”

“Actually, no I don’t.  Why don’t you explain to me so I can—“

“Ha! Mom did you see that? She was all,” she tilted her head mockingly, “’Wow! Super!’ and she didn’t even know what they are!” she turned to me and grinned, “You’re wicked cute!”

Touché.

The woman who spoke to me in the airport was very friendly, but she isn’t my friend (and as it turns out, I did have something on my face, and she probably just needed a better look).  And that is one of the main problems I have with small talk– there are so many judgments going on under the surface, so much dismissal to the deep currents in the human heart.   But that “little” girl and I had an honest interaction.  I now know exactly what she thinks of me.  I really hope someday I’m cool enough to be her friend.

I am not writing this post to say anything disparaging about St. Louis (after all, I have family there!), but to try to defend all the disparaging things that are said about Bostonians.  We Bostonians have the reputation of being mean.  Well, you’re very mean too.  But it might be in a whispering way, a judgmental way, a slight tilt of your head as we talk about our new job kind of way.  Bostonians are simply very, very honest.  If we want you to leave us alone, it will be abundantly clear (i.e. two empty sinks on each side, a horrible scowl, or a cup of Starbucks coffee).  If you lie to us, we’ll call you out immediately (no matter the age).  You’ll never have to guess how we feel about you (“Say it to my face” is the abridged golden rule around here).  You’ll also never have to guess who we route for.  Bostonians are the most cantankerous, loyal,  straight-forward friends you could possibly earn.  And earn it you will- through a few stony silences, a suspicious testing period, and a lifetime of hazardous car drives.  Get through those, however, and you will find that Massholes are like huge, complex onions with lots of layers waiting to be peeled back.

Just like ogres.

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Posted in: Wicked Funny