Because I moved to New England from New York City, people are always interested to know if I still hold allegiance to the Big Apple or if I’ve shifted my fealty to Boston. Over the few years that I have lived here, I have grown to like Boston as it offers the urban shot-in-the-arm that I can’t get from harbors and kayak passes. Truth be told, though, Boston will never win my heart. Because it squashed it once.
We had been spending a fair amount of time in the City of Champions as my former spouse was called there weekly for work. I would often join up on the business trip to indulge in the hotel. Escaping to a nice hotel for a couple of nights is like being transported into the movie “Pretty Woman.” I would meet a guy on an expense account. I would sing badly in the tub while he reported to meetings, and then we would reconvene in the evenings for dinner. The film comparisons end there as there were also three small children involved and I would never have walked away from a pile of cash on the bed, no matter how insulted I was to receive it.
Despite my limited exchanges with Boston, I had always known on some level that Boston is — to put it mildly — enthusiastic about their sports teams. I learned this the hard way when I carelessly sent our son to his first day of school dressed in a Yankees shirt. I thought the teachers were going to banish a 2-year-old to detention. After noting that most of the New England denizens display a bumper sticker that reads, “We support any team that beats the Yankees,” I figured we’d be safe so long as I didn’t send the kids trick-or-treating as A-Rod and Derek Jeter.
Boy, was I wrong.
On this particular trip to Boston, the kids and I were looking for something to do. The allure of the minifridge and the swimming pool had slackened. The gathering clouds in the sky were threatening rain. Armed with an electronic map and a double stroller, I set out in search of Boston’s Children’s Museum. As I pushed two children over cobblestone roads, no easy feat when one is seven months pregnant, I tried to absorb the sights and the city bustle. Then the rain began. There wasn’t a drop or two to herald its coming; It just began in a weighty spray.
When we were too far from the hotel to turn around yet still a substantial distance from the museum, the gale-force winds and pelting rain began to lash us. Absurd statements flowed from my mouth, things such as, “Wisdom comes with winters and wandering cities with wet underwear.”
At this point we had ranged into a belt of Boston that was purely residential with no cafes or needle exchanges within which to take cover. As our jackets became saturated and their cries amplified to the level of “my home life is abusive,” I did all I — or any street walker — could think of. I began taking off my clothes. While wondering if I should whittle sticks and forage for rat carcasses to use as mittens, I knew that I needed to put more layers atop the kids. I stripped down to the undershirt I’d worn to bed. I knew without taking stock of myself that I must have looked like a woman in search of spare change and methamphetamines. The shirt was tight fitting on a nonpregnant person so it really looked more like sausage casing when worn in the third trimester. I knew I didn’t look alluring, but I was a little surprised by the honking horns directed at us over the next several blocks. Then a man yelled from his speeding truck:
“Hey Lady, you can drown in this rain!”
While I told the kids that was Boston-speak for wishing they had an umbrella to give us, I wondered what I could have done to enrage this town. When a car slowed down beside me and a man leaned out to yell, “Go back to LA!” I realized the trespass I’d committed against Boston’s mankind.
I was wearing a T-shirt with the following words emblazoned across the chest: I love the Lakers.
I don’t love the Lakers. I couldn’t name a player on their team. I just like purple and things that cost $4.99. I never intended to be seen wearing this shirt in public, but like an aid worker in Calcutta, I just care too much for the children. After a few more death threats, I ducked into an H&M to buy dry nonsporting apparel. I found myself a shirt that had a stain on it and some new and dry duds for the kids. By then, the deluge of rain had stopped and we wore our ensembles out of the store.
Back at the hotel, kids tucked into the safe arms of their dad, I regaled him with the details of our walk. He was decidedly disinterested in our tale of narrow survival until he heard mention of a certain troop from Los Angeles.
He stopped me short, “You were wearing a Lakers shirt?”
Shaking his head in disgust, he said, “They’ll kill a pregnant woman here for that.”
I nodded resolutely for I’d seen the dark side of this truth. Just as Julia Roberts was spurned by evil store attendants for her too-short skirt in “Pretty Woman,” I was scorned, and nearly stoned, by the sports fans of Boston for my inappropriate attire. It’s something that I won’t forget anytime soon.
Big mistake, Boston. Big. Huge.