Saturday, August 26, 2006

Make Way for Schmucklings

It is only August, but already autumn is in the air. For the past couple of days the temperature has only gone into the 60’s, and it is becoming more and more evident that the days are getting shorter. However an even more concrete sign of immanent change has appeared here on the streets of dear old Boston.

I was going about my lawful occasions yesterday when I had my first sighting. Near the corner of Mass. Ave. and Boylston, the home of Berklee College of Music, there they were, a flock of college freshman being sheparded along under the fretful wings of there cruiseware clad parental units, lumbering down the streets banging into innocent passersby with their instrument cases. This is only the tip of the iceberg, but a sobering reminder of the season that people who actually live here dread. Fall semester.

Soon the streets will be teaming with herds of freshmen, traveling in packs, clustering together like some 10 headed, 20 legged beast that upon being returned to the wild is both excited and frightened. A bad combination! Gibbering and squealing they will block sidewalks in their progress, rubber-necking, commenting, gawking and in general making a nuisance of themselves and creating a hazard for anyone who is trying to make any progress down the street. They will shuffle along in a maddening Brownian motion, directionless, yet determined, to explore their new environment.

What is even more amazing and infuriating though is when 2 co-ed’s decide to venture out on their own. I’ve never really run across this problem with guys, but for some reason when two 18 year old girls hit the street, they can manage to take up the entire sidewalk regardless of how wide the thoroughfare and how small the girls in question. It is this sort of vague, directed, directionlessness that is like a homing signal. No matter the position of the co-ed in question and the oncoming traffic they manage to wander straight in front of all oncoming traffic. If you give any indication that you expect them to move out of the way, it is greeted with a combination of exasperated sigh, shrug and eye roll that indicates how hopelessly clueless you are not to realize that they in fact do own the sidewalk and can produce the necessary paperwork to prove it. This technique is lost on me. I survived a teenage daughter, and having been unwilling to put up with that crap from her, I am certainly not going to tolerate it from some complete stranger. I just keep moving and the little dears will just have to move over to their side of the sidewalk. I am experimenting with a technique that my pal Eddy uses. He simply comes to a dead halt, crosses his arms and meets the offender in question with an answering glare. He’s bigger than I am but, though pint sized, I think I might be scarier looking. Occasionally there is something to be said for having a face like a can of worms.

Young males are just as bad in their own gormless way. If they are not being out and out offensive by commenting loudly about fags, old people, or anything else that pops into their otherwise empty heads, then they are blindly lumbering into people like some drugged mastodon. I’m not certain that the Eddy technique is the answer for me in this case, though I may be selling myself short. I managed to scare the shit out of a couple of my daughter’s rather large boyfriends.

It all seems very irritating while it’s going on, but within a couple of months the mobs will thin out as the semester gets underway and the students realize that they are in fact expected to get some work done and this isn’t some extended shopping holiday. The cold days of the New England winter will also drive everyone, myself included, indoors and hibernation mode will take over. Then, finally, the days will once again lengthen, the sun will start doing a decent days work, warming the air and it will drive these migratory visitors back to the mid-west or wherever it is they come from and return the city to it’s resident population, allowing us to enjoy another peaceful summer in the city.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Don't use that tone with me!

Okay, this country needs to be sent to it's room to think about what it just did. I was in the dentist office today and overheard someone saying that you can get Mel Gibson's rant as a ringtone. Do you really want that coming out of your pants pocket when someone calls you?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fun for the whole family

My younger sister as a matter of family pride has proven that if common sense and common courtesy ever come calling, they will not find her at home.

Not to be left out of the fun, she called my sister-in-law to let her know that she and my parents would be availing themselves of the block of rooms that have been reserved for guests at the nearby hotel, which offers a shuttle service to the country club where the wedding will be held.

While she had my sister-in-law on the phone, she decided to ascertain whether niece v.2 had been invited. My sister has been working as an understudy to my mother for years now, and has even adopted many of her vocal mannerisms so I can only assume the message was delivered with all of the subtlety of a brick with a note tied to it thrown through a window. Mom has a way of asking a question, especially when it is obviously none of her business and is more than rude to be inquired of in the first place that is at once sneaky and transparent. It has the irritating quality of letting the interigatee know that while she is information mining, she is doing so in such a clever way that they will never suspect that she is pumping them. I think it’s the tone of fatuous smugness that gets to me.

The upshot is that my poor sister-in-law’s feelings have been hurt and it is just throwing another log on the fire. I haven’t spoken to my brother, but I can only imagine that he is fuming by now.

Meanwhile, my niece has her own cross to bear. She had been asked to make hotel reservations for her parents. (Actually, for her dad, the rest of this one is a story in itself.) She made the reservations, and then changed them when she found out about the reserved block of rooms. This lead to a rather heated discussion with her folks, because the rooms at the hotel with the shuttle service cost $50 more. My niece tried to point out that the extra cost was cheaper than getting picked up for DUI, but this argument fell on deaf ears. My brother and his wife are nice people but simply saying that they are cheap really falls pretty wide of the mark. They would never dream of pinching pennies, because that might wear valuable copper off the pennies.

After what was a fairly long harangue over the phone, my niece finally quieted them down by assuring them that the reservation at the less expensive hotel was still in place. So much for being helpful!

The niece and I have formed a sanity pact. We are now going to actively avoid any interaction with our family before the event that can be avoided. I think we should just build a blind and observe the behavior of the monkey troop from a safe distance. The question now is what to wear for camouflage?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

More wedding drama

There is nothing like a joyous occasion to knock the scab off the festering dysfunction in our family. The wedding plans for my younger brothers daughter are progressing, and with it, all of the ax grinding that passes for family life with us.

Enter my niece’s sister, niece v.2. Niece v.2 has not received her invitation yet, and has been convinced by grandma that she has been ruthlessly excluded. The reason for this conviction on dear old mom’s part is because when my younger brother and his wife got married 26 years ago, the mother of the bride had decided that there would be no children at the wedding with the exception of the ring bearer and the flower girl. In this instance the flower girl of choice was my niece who was about 5 at the time. Niece v.2 was about 2 and therefore has vivid personal memories of this traumatic occasion.

To enter the realm of reality once more, there is a fairly simple explanation for niece v.2’s invitation going astray. Her current living situation is a bit on the peripatetic side and she is, to the best of my knowledge, in a peculiar housing situation. She has some sort of time share arrangement in the house she had purchased with her erstwhile fiancĂ©. Niece v.2 has the house for a month, then, ex-fiancĂ© and his new girlfriend have it for a month while niece v.2 stays with a friend. I am inclined to think it is a small wonder that her mail may occasionally go astray. But let's not allow common sense to get in the way of a good grudge!

The upshot of all of this is that my poor niece was subjected to the high pitched whining of her sister. (A sound that can only be heard by dogs and relatives.) The refrain was “They don’t want me there, anyway!” supported by the Greek chorus of her parents, (who it turns out are still pissed off after 26 years, over having to shell out for a baby sitter.) her idiot aunt (my 38 year old sister who still lives with my parents) and of course my mother.

The punch line is that niece v.2 had no intention of attending the wedding in the first place. My niece and her boyfriend had already offered to fly her up and put her up with them. She doesn’t want to take the time off from work and she doesn’t want to spend the money. All with the constant refrain of “They don’t want me there anyway.”

I was on the phone the other night with my friend Clint, making plans for the weekend and gossiping. I started to fill him in on the wedding/grudge match. He started laughing and paraphrased Terry Pratchett. “Oh, you mean it’s about, “what their Darryl said about our Sean at cousin Diana's wedding!” I couldn’t put it better.