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- The Week’s End
I’m standing in the hallway of an apartment in Allston, wearing nothing but day-and-a-half-old boxer briefs, and I need to use the bathroom. It’s the last weekend before the new semester begins and I’d spent the night at a friend’s place after two bottles of wine and three failed attempts at pronouncing “uber.” Me, my bladder and some chick in the bathroom are the only ones awake. I start humming a song to the beat of my throbbing urethra when the girl—one of her roommates with microbangs and a faux-bloody-tampon-brooch—walks out and greets me like I’m any other foreign mooseknuckle calling her apartment home.
After splashing cold water on my face and gargling with Herbal Essences, I went back to my friend’s room, atrophied my leg muscles accidentally putting her jeans on instead of mine and stepped out into daytime Allston. Experiencing Boston’s dirty-hippie-brother-town before sundown is a lot like seeing your parents naked. Confusing. Horrific. Informative. Barring my eyes from the sun and the shame, I walked down to the nearest T platform, got onto the inbound Green Line and took a seat.
While making sure that my rolled sheet of paper towel was still serving as a cork for my half-drunk bottle of wine, two women joined me on either side. They were mumbling their words, they wore Etnies sneakers and they had flip phones. They were either 12-year-olds named Kyle or just really loved heroin.
“Yeah, but, like, my boyfriend doesn’t know you,” the woman on my right (let’s call her Crystal) said to the woman on my left (probably named Britni.)
“I’m chill,” reasoned Britni.
The white-rimmed sunglasses Britni was wearing in broad daylight confirmed her chill.
“We don’t help just anybody out,” Crystal said. “Where are you even from?”
“Dorchester,” Britni said, applying lip gloss to her chin.
Looking up from her Motorola RazR for the first time since boarding the train, Crystal was shocked.
“Dorchester? No shit! Who do you know?”
“I dunno. Gimp Gary?”
“Nah. What about Puerto Rican Alicia and her boyfriend Tom?”
“Maybe. Big Dee and Tiff?”
“Big Dee and Tiff!” methed Crystal. “We go right back! Shit! Okay, I’m getting off at JFK. Come on, we got what you need.”
The next week, I started an internship with Boston.com. The office is located at the Boston Globe headquarters in Dorchester. The closest T stop? JunkieFK. I was hoping to see Britni and Crystal again on a Braintree-bound Red Line train but, more often than not, I’ve been sharing oxygen with the real scum of the earth: white men living in Cambridge. All they seem to talk about is Ira Glass and start-ups and garbanzo beans. They’re probably Harvard grads which means a lot of people want to have sex with them. But no one actually does.
I’ve never had that burning desire to sunbathe on a beach where the sand is crushed hypodermics so I’ve avoided the Blue Line to Revere Beach. The Silver Line is for people who can afford to travel. I only rode on the Orange Line once but I got off the train feeling like a white Pam Grier—more tragically lame than usual. And, during the few times I’ve ridden any city buses, I got a good idea of how broke and bitter I’ll be as an adult.
During the two years I’ve lived in this city, I’ve spent more time waiting for the T than riding it. Whether it’s Boston’s commentary on my love life or not, it gets old. A weekend or two ago, I was waiting for the late-night Green Line service in Allston. I could have stayed the night again with my friend but I figured daytime Allston was something I should only experience once a semester. Or lifetime. It was 2 a.m., I was alone at an above-ground stop and I was staring at my phone. So, I deserved it when a group of people started walking up the street towards me, asking each other “is that him?”
They were dropping a pretty colorful noun that gave me reason to think that they weren’t talking about me. Until I looked up to see four men staring me down from across the track. As the fight-or-flight response took hold of my rectum, my body chose the “stay where you are and be as useless as possible” option. The group agreed that I was, indeed, “him” and started walking across the tracks towards me. One was wearing a backpack and was pulling it around to his chest while another kept saying something that sounded like “Persian-ite.”
He repeated, “It’s purge night.”
Before I could even think “fuck you, Ethan Hawke,” I hurdle my legs like some sort of homosexual jackrabbit over the center cement median directly into oncoming traffic. I hear one of them yell at me to not run away but I also hear Whitney Houston’s greatest hits soundtracking my life flashing before my eyes. By the grace of St. Houston, I see an open taxi stopped a few feet away at a red light. Without knocking, I throw myself into the cab, give the driver directions and gnaw on my fist to stop myself from singing “I Will Always Love You” to my knight-in-shining-Toyota-Camry.
I looked back as the cabbie drove us away. The guys were already gone but, coming to a slow stop, the T was just arriving.