Thank you, Boston. We’ll be back | Column

by | October 27, 2018 5:00 pm

Last Updated: October 25, 2018 at 2:49 pm

Some of you—okay, two of you—have asked about our recent trip to Boston, which was both fabulous and confusing at the same time.
The fabulous: Harvard, the John F. Kennedy presidential library, street performers, Boston Public market, Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, the North End, restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops, Cambridge, Beacon Hill.
The confusing: No-one says, “hi,” or “please” or “thank you.” Nor do they respond to greetings. It was beyond odd. I’d shrug it off as a Yankee thing, but I know plenty of Yankees who are warm, funny and courteous. So, I’m not sure what’s up with Boston.
Maybe they’re as inundated with tourists as we are in Charleston, and they’re over it. Maybe it’s that famous New England reserve.
Or maybe I’m spoiled by a lifetime in the Deep South, where total strangers ask how you’re feeling and care about the answer. We are exceptionally courteous in Dixie, which makes up for the underfunded schools, stifling heat and overpriced housing. Sort of.
The flip side of our friendliness is that if you make us mad, we cut you dead. You cease to exist and we will never again ask about your mama ‘n’ them. (Or maybe that’s just me.)
Back to Boston: The only time I was truly startled was when a beautiful young woman jumped out of a car at a red light as I crossed a street in Harvard Square. I was less than two feet from her door when she popped out, so close I saw the tiny dark hairs above her upper lip and felt her breath on my face. I instinctively recoiled.
In the South she would have said, “Excuse me, I’m so sorry, can I buy you coffee? Dinner? A house?” Nope. She walked around me without a word.
Culture shock aside, two other women made the trip memorable. One worked the counter in a fro yo shop. She had purple hair, pierced lips and eyes rimmed with black kohl. Her teeth appeared to be filed into points, which I noticed as she sweetly explained the different sizes and toppings. I ordered blood orange fro-yo with warm peanut butter sauce.
Y’all. That sauce. I’m a PB freak anyway, but this elixir was creamy, sweet, thick and slightly salty. Widdle and I sat on a bench outside to eat; about halfway in, I realized more peanut butter sauce was needed for this fix. I marched inside, handed two dollars to Alice Cooper girl and said, “Hit me again.”
“I got you,” she said, and poured about a pint of peanut butter sauce in my cup. You could almost hear the fro-yo clapping. I went back out and slurped it down to the last drop.
The resulting sugar high lasted about three hours, during which I made Widdle take my photo in Harvard Yard about 20 times, and then dashed around the underground Red Line station looking for the train back to Beacon Hill.
After several minutes, a kind female transit worker realized that I was both manic and lost. She said, “Get on the next train that comes, then get off at Park.” She guided me to a map on the wall and smacked it four times with her hand: “Whap! Whap! Whap! Whap!” She stared at me. “Four stops! On the fifth, get off the train!”
It was like she knew me from the day I was born. I was so grateful I wanted to kiss her but she had on a big trucker’s hat, so I let the moment pass.
Thank you, Boston. We’ll be back.

(Julie R. Smith, who has a whole other column about Uber, can be reached at

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