Speaking of which, Harvard Yard may be worth a postcard, but, like Kenmore, Harvard Square is a nightmare vestige of its former cobbled and stoned self. Once a mecca for student-oriented retailers (lots of books, camera and audio equipment, and cheap food), the Square with a capital S has been big-boxed and commercialized into a remarkably unpleasant (and thoroughly non-Cantabrigian) experience. Sure, some of the old-guard stuff hangs on for dear life, but where once was genuine collegiate cool is now college Disneyland.
Somebody told you that Boston had a great MASS TRANSIT SYSTEM. They lied. First of all, the MBTA (or T, for economy’s sake) is damn near bankrupt. Of more immediate importance, despite numerous reform efforts, it’s run like a Marx Brothers skit. You’ll experience long, unpredictable waits in hostile environments. You will seldom get a seat. Your car will be packed. Idiots with backpacks will stand in front of you and crush your ribcage every time the train lurches (often). The seats will smell like death and the climate-control systems usually will not work. And you’ll have to stop riding shortly after midnight, because who needs a student curfew when you can just inconvenience people into going home early?
Everyone knows Boston is a GREAT SPORTS TOWN, so you’ll get to go to all the games. Only if you kidnap somebody who has season tickets, or can pay more for a grandstand seat at Fenway than your father paid for his first car. On the other hand, the Patriots (also a tough ticket) play home games in a faraway Boston exurb to which you can’t get to easily. As for becoming one of the local fans, why not just aspire to joining al Qaeda? These are not happy enthusiasts; they’re psychos who use sports (mostly baseball) as an excuse to act out their rancid negativity. They hate the Yankees more than the love the Red Sox. In fact, give them a few innings, and they’ll hate half the players on the Sox, as well. If you somehow eliminated the verb “sucks,” the stands at Fenway would be silent. Everything’s a fucking vendetta with these people. This is not sport. This is sublimated gang warfare.
There’s more disillusionment in store, of course. Your FRESHMAN TEACHERS will not be professors; they’ll be uncaring and largely untrained grad students about three years older than you are. FRATERNITIES and SORORITIES are full of losers, and joining one won’t guarantee your popularity (except with a select group of losers). The CAMPUS COPS aren’t there to protect you; they’re there to protect the campus from you. And you will not win anyone’s RESPECT by wearing a sweatshirt with your own college’s name on it. The people in ROTC are war-mongering fools in silly imitation Boy Scout uniforms and you never should have signed up. And your TASTE IN MUSIC is questionable at best.
So adapt. Adjust. Change. Don’t be yourself; be us. We’re okay.
Have a good year.
Clif Garboden has no illusions about Boston or much of anything else. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.