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10/11/2005

When you write about Boston, and you will, be kind.

To Julia's account of our Boston weekend, I would like to contribute some specifics.

But first, if you offered suggestions on what we might do while we were in town, I thank you. If you offered to meet us and show us the sights in person, I thank you and wish we had accepted. You, however, should thank your lucky motherfucking stars, because Boston had it in for us, and I can't promise you would have emerged unscathed.

Friday

4:30 PM. I arrive at South Station brimming with excitement and verve. I exuberantly toss my stylish tam-o'-shanter in the air. Full of fresh-faced pioneerism, undaunted by the weight of my suitcase and undeterred by the dangerous clink of the liquor bottles within, I decide to take the subway to our hotel instead of a cab.

5:15 PM. Eleven flights of stairs and fourteen thousand lurching steps later, I arrive at the hotel, panting, sweating, and in possession of several brand-new blisters on my dainty doll-like feet. I note with approval the convenient proximity to "Boston's Home for Erotic Cakes, Sweets, and Novelties." I check in, go up to our suite, and immediately mark my territory by rubbing my scent glands on every obvious protuberance urinating copiously in a corner arranging the liquor bottles just so on top of the TV.

5:45 PM. A knock on the door heralds the arrival of Julia. I greet her seductively at the door swathed only in Saran Wrap, Marabel Morgan-style. I remember my mangy patches of unsightly freezer burn too late to conceal them. "Do not," she tells me through gritted teeth, "even mention the baseball game."

6:00 PM. We sally forth in a quest Spring, Emily, and Anne swore we would not regret: the quest for a chacarero.

6:55 PM. After a cab driver who did not know where Filene's was and politely suggested we get out of his car; a hotel valet who directed us not to Filene's but to Lord and Taylor; a long walk and some wrong turns; and a confusing set of directions from a woman who appeared to be sending us to South America to get an authentic Chilean sandwich, we do, in fact, regret our quest.

7:45 PM. The search for a restaurant that serves an appropriate caliber of both food and liquor finds us finally at a steakhouse. Our waiter repeatedly rests his hands on the back of Julia's chair and vibrates aggressively. "You've been Magic Fingered," I tell her solemnly. She brains me with a half-empty wine bottle, carefully, so as not to spill a single drop.

9:00 PM. I stand at the end of the meal, and quickly realize there is no way I'm making it anywhere on foot. My blisters have blossomed into weeping open sores, and with every step my shoes seem to tighten even further. I hobble to the door; outside the restaurant I immediately whip off my shoes. Barefoot, I tread carefully back to the hotel. I do not step on any glass or used needles, and, having dodged those more alarming hazards, I shove to the back of my mind my mild apprehension about stepping into a pool of, you know, urine or the dripping clap.

9:30 PM. I take the only photo of the weekend, a close-up of my chewed and bloody heel. Replacing my shredded Band-Aids with new ones, donning a different pair of shoes, and taking a strictly medicinal belt from my travel-sized bottle of vodka, I am once again ready to take on the town.

10:00 PM. No more than pleasantly tipsy, we arrive at Jacob Wirth's, as Cris suggested, to humiliate ourselves at the promised drunken piano bar sing-along. Upon entering, we notice two unsettling things: the lights are all on, and the liquor bottles have been carefully covered with a drift of Saran Wrap, Marabel Morgan-style. Julia wonders aloud if they've stopped serving. Nonsense, I opine, insisting that the booze has simply been carefully wrapped to keep it fresh and moist.

10:02 PM. Julia was right. We leave in high dudgeon — what kind of bar...? — unable to believe — ...ten o'clock?! — that they expected us to stay there and sing in public unobscured by darkness and sober. I try not to let my disappointment show, but in fact it did cost me great effort to memorize the lyrics to "Wildfire" and I am devastated not to be able to strut my pony-chasin' stuff.

11:00 PM. After Julia charms the figurative pants off a stern-looking bouncer outside a club we are far too matronly to enter — sorry, a club I am far too matronly to enter — we learn that there's a bar just a block down the street that is "grungy." That is more my speed, and as Julia genteelly nurses a beer I bolt down more vodka, barely pausing to chew it.

12:00 AM: We agree it is time to return to our hotel, where we may don our nighties, tuck up our hair in pin curls, and engage in a rollicking pillow fight. Or alternatively, we might put on baggy sweats, drink everything in the suite but the mouthwash, and talk. And talk. About everyone we know and many we don't. (Yes, whoever you are, we talk about you.) Which we do until 3:30.

After I tell her a story, Julia accuses me in a bored drawl of sucking all the life out of it. I attempt to beat her mercilessly with an empty bottle, but since it is a Lilliputian bottle from the mini-bar, I succeed in delivering only very small bruises and the most adorable wee tiny skull fracture. In revenge, Julia offers me a mint, into which I bite unwittingly; she cackles like a...um, great cackling thing as minty confectionery semen runs down my chin.

Since every great evening should end with either a drunken brawl or someone dripping something, I will now draw the veil across Friday, except to say that Julia slept here while I slept here.


Saturday

10:00 AM. Last night a room service breakfast delivered at 10 seemed a decadence that bordered on Caligulan. This morning, it seems sadistic. However, determined to soldier on brightly, I pop some Tylenol, chug some water, and tuck into my eggs-over-easy-side-of-bacon-white-toast while Julia watches from the sofa, looking vaguely ill.

10:30 AM. Julia has taken to her bed. Without showering, I put on last night's clothes. This is not as revolting a prospect as it would be if we'd actually managed to get a good drunk on; as it is, they reek not a whit. I wrench my feet into shoes, gasping at the pain, and venture out in search of a Coca-Cola for Julia — she calls it that! A Coca-Cola! — and less excruciating footwear for myself.

11:30 AM. I return, more or less triumphal, bearing a frosty beverage, an extensive supply of adhesive bandages, and a pair of pearlescent pink flip-flops (cost: $18 and a half-mile of walking). Julia sucks down her Coca-Cola with unladylike dispatch, I shower and apply unguents to my suppurating sores, and we eventually embark again, our determination to conquer Boston somewhat renewed.

1:00 PM. We do not, in fact, conquer Boston. It is worth noting that flip-flops are not the ideal footwear for exploring a city during a chilly rainstorm. With every step my feet steep longer in the toxic gumbo — excuse me, poisonous chowder — of the overflowing gutter.

2:30 PM. Drenched, embittered, and hungry, we settle on lunch at an Asian restaurant mere steps from our hotel.

4:00 PM. Suddenly we realize it is not, in fact, too early to start drinking, and beat a hasty path back to our room, where the wine and conversation flow.

7:00 PM. We change our clothes — do these pink rubber flip-flops go with my tiara and ball gown? — and strike out in search of dinner. Our destination is Meritage, recommended by T. I give our cab driver a very specific address, practically including GPS coordinates, and encourage him to talk volubly about baseball, causing Julia to stop speaking to me entirely, her patrician face stony in profile.

7:25 PM. As the frigid downpour continues, we are dropped off in what our cab driver promises is the vicinity of our restaurant. Huddling in a doorway, I call the restaurant to get directions, expecting to be told that we need only turn twice to the left, take two baby steps forward, and one giant scissor step to the north. Instead, I am told that it's "only" a 15-20 minute walk away. "Do you have an umbrella?" the solicitous gentleman asks. "No," I answer grimly. "Well, you need one," he says. I end the call and resolve to have him flayed upon our eventual arrival at the restaurant.

7:45 PM. Julia and I have headed off into the driving rain in, of course, the wrong direction. As I slog through puddle after puddle in my rubber sandals, I am certain I am contracting cholera. Julia is wrapped up in her pashmina looking like a debased Mary Magdalen. We are laughing. And laughing. We finally manage to signal a sympathetic cab driver, one I do not goad into speaking of baseball, who deposits us at last at our correct destination.

9:30 PM. We are between courses, irritated by the indifference of our waiter. Apparently he believes that pink plastic shoes are footwear for only the lower orders, and that the hair pasted flat to my skull by the rain is a sign of a general disregard for grooming. (Hey, he's got me on that one.) He blooms, however, into servility when I ask him where the ladies' room is. "Will you come with me?" he asks, spreading his arms in what appears to be a welcoming embrace, looking for all the world like he wants to heft me over his shoulder and bear me there himself. My imagination quails from thoughts of what other services he might perform once there. Instead, I ask politely, "Could you perhaps just tell me?" He does. Julia isn't listening, but then she'll have no need to know; she has already wet herself laughing.

11:00 PM. Finished with dinner, we trudge downstairs to the hotel bar. We are there for an hour and yet, when we get into a cab to go back to the Eliot, we are both as sober as alewives. (I know. I know. That's a fish. But as far as I know they don't tipple.)

11:30 PM. We are back in our sweats, dry at long last, and have tucked in to the remains of this afternoon's demi bouteille. I have bathed my feet and my gullet in vodka. We vow that we will never, but never take on Boston together again. Honest and unashamed in our defeat, we readily admit Boston has kicked our collective flip-flopped ass.

And so eventually to bed, not as drunk or as late as last night, since I'll be up early to rendezvous with Paul and Charlie.


Sunday

8:00 AM. The alarm clock next to my bed goes off. I shower, re-anoint my blisters, and pack my suitcase before venturing quietly into the living room of our suite. I pass through the French doors and creep towards Julia's bed to say goodbye — or gudbi, as Patrick would have it — before departing. I say her name, but she sleeps on. She looks so peaceful in her zippered footie pajamas, satin-edged blankie clutched to her pinkened cheek, her thumb having slipped wetly out of her slack mouth. I watch her for a moment, then leave a single red rose on her pillow. Then I slip silently out of her life forever.


So there you have it. I could overlook the part about being cold and drenched to the bone. I could even forgive the ostentatious snubs from cab drivers and maitres d' alike. But when two such accomplished lushes as Julia and I can't even get intoxicated...well, Boston is now off the list.

And yet: I had a marvelous time. I attribute that entirely to Julia's crackling wit and my own drive to seem, you know, cool enough so that she wouldn't slip away while I was in the bathroom, leaving me with the bill. I am fairly certain my feet have turned gangrenous — red streaks are bad, right? And yet. If it comes to amputation, I'll count it all worthwhile.

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