With more than 50 colleges and universities in the city and close suburbs, Boston is truly the ultimate college town. And while each school has its own culture and traditions, all Boston college-kids have a few memories in common. Just in time for fall, here are ten sure-fire signs you went to school in Boston.
1. You spent countless carefree nights riding the MBTA (colloquially known as the Mibata, pronounced mib-BAH-tuh) up and down, from terminus to terminus, getting the absolute most out of your train fare.
That was where the party was, in truth. Not in the bars, not in the clubs, not in the dorms, but on the train, with fifteen of your friends, a thirty-rack of Sam’s Seasonal, and the eighty or so Mylar party balloons that you purchased at the Stop’n’Shop or the Star Market and carried with you where’er you went. The train conductor jumped and bopped to the party sounds on your portable speakers. You did the wave with your fellow passengers, who were always happy to see you and always down for fun. You did this for hours on end. At the time you thought of it as a way to fritter the time away, but those were the moments you remember.
2. You were up on ALL of the local lingo.
You knew milkshakes were “frappes.” You knew the remote control was the “clicker” or “clicka.” Commonwealth Avenue was “Comm Ave,” Massachusetts Avenue was “Mass Ave,” Storrow Drive was “Sorrow Drive,” Beacon Street was “Beek Street,” Boylston Street was “Boy-less-ton StreeeeEEEeee,” and the Ted Williams Tunnel was “Satan’s Crowded Lower Intestine.”
3. On frosty winter nights, you convened with friends to strap on ice skates at the Frog Pond, where you’d body-check small children who had come down from the North Shore for some innocent family fun.
You and your three massive roommates would body-check the children and use them as live pucks in a pick-up game of ice hockey. You’d cackle and guffaw, your breath making steam in the crisp air, which was lit by the hundred Christmas lights that hung on the bare branches above. The North Shore parents would clap and cheer as their pocket-sized progeny were hurled across the ice at terminal velocity. For North Shorers, this was a rite of passage, a coming-of-age, and you were glad to be the arbiters of manhood.
4. Three cheers for Cheers™! What nights you had at Cheers™! What wild times!
You loved going to everyone’s favorite bar where “Everyone Knows Your Name™” for a nice cold one with Sam and Diane™. You’d laugh and discuss the “Pats” and say eachother’s names, which you knew, until your voices were raw, until your throats bled. Then you would all shamble over to the Hatch Shell and snuggle up close and fall asleep to the lullaby toot-toots of the woodwind section of the Boston Pops, who practiced there year round, and were prisoners, and were not allowed to leave until their notes were beautiful and perfect.
5. You planted a big ol’ kiss on the Beantown Bean, a raunchy name locals have derived for the groin region of the Paul-Revere-atop-his-horse statue in the Public Garden.
Every Friday or Saturday night, you lined up with your friends and waited for hours for your chance to peck his teeny pecker in a demonstration of hometown spirit.
6. You threw yourself into the lively local music scene.
You loved to go to Mighty Mighty Bosstones shows, and constantly saw Drop Kick Murphy’s perform “Shipping Up To Boston,” which was your favorite song, because “shipping up to Boston” was something you regularly did, as you were a college student from New Jersey. (You regularly shipped up to Boston from New Jersey.) You loved Augustana, but only when they performed their song “Boston.” When you saw them play, they opened with their song “Boston,” which you loved. But then they played other songs that were not “Boston,” which was deeply troubling to you. You threw things at them until they played “Boston” again. They played “Boston” over and over all night, and when they did not, they were punished. Rightly so!
7. Your favorite thing to do on Wednesday afternoons when classes were cancelled? Leap across the on- and off-ramps at the South Bay Interchange, of course!
Like the wild mad thing you were, laughing and skipping in front of the bumpers of tractor-trailer trucks and freshly-waxed Chevy Suburbans. Ha-HA!
8. If you interned or studied in the city over the summer, you spent carefree nights floating on your back down the Charles River, drifting on placid waters towards the shallows of Boston Harbor, where you splashed in the water and dug in for remnant Boston Tea Party tea bags under the sand and rocks.
Sometimes you’d find one, and so you’d hoist yourself onto the pier and race your friends over the cobblestone streets of Faneuil to City Hall Plaza, where you’d wave your bag in the air and shout, loud as you could, “Got a tea! Got a tea!” If you were lucky, the mayor and his staff would strap on their stiffest three-corner hats and collect the bags for display in the lobby, and pay you in salt water taffy for your trouble. Or with bleacher-seat tickets for the next game at Fenway, if you were very, very lucky!
9. You remember getting your first apartment in Allston, Brighton, Somerville, Jamaica Plain or Mission Hill, and being excited to move in, only to find the Boston Red Sox had bought the property and decided that they lived there now, and you could not live there.
…And you were forced to sleep on the couch while Jacoby Ellsbury or Carl Everett or Timothy Naehring took your Ikea bed, the one you had just worked so hard to assemble. But it didn’t matter! You had no choice! You had no right to argue! You found a new place to live the next day, and brought with you only what you could carry!
10. In the end, it was the best time of your life.
The city felt full of mystery and possibility, and you felt full of promise and potential. You climbed to dizzying heights. You gripped tight to the antenna spire of the Prudential Building to watch the sunrise, head full of dreams, heart full of pride, eyes full of tears, ears full of the sound of news choppers circling your prone, naked, wind-chapped body. What a life you led!
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