Okay, it seems like I am on a bit of a "Down-with-Boston" streak, but really I do appreciate it as a city and our life here and the history and culture and blah blah blah. But let me tell you one more story before I leave the NE-Critique train behind:
A few weekends ago, our friends and we decided we wanted to go to the beach. It was supposed to be a beautiful weekend and we all had work off, so we were going to take advantage of it. We picked them up around 9:30, thinking we'd get a reasonable start. Now something you must know about Boston is that despite the fact that it is a coastal town, it doesn't really feel like living at the beach. It just feels like living in a huge metropolis that has some water somewhere near it that you hear of but never visit. And you have to drive a ways to get out of the city and to a legitimate beach with sand, etc.
So we headed north with dreams of a day at the ocean. Our friend RT (who should really have a side business as a travel agent given his adeptness at trip planning) had picked the perfect beach for us. Despite a few close calls at traffic circles and one lifted draw bridge, we made our way there easily. When we arrived, there was significant traffic backed up at the entrance, but we weren't worried, because we weren't in a hurry. This was beach day. It was when we got to the front that the trouble started. It turns out people weren't slowing down to get in the entrance and pay (Yes, that's right, you have to pay to go to the beach here, $25 a day per car.) But it wasn't that. The beach was full.
Having grown up in the West where population density was never an issue, I found the prospect of the beach being "full" preposterous. "It CAN'T be full," I moaned. "That's RIDICULOUS. Go back and check. Or just pull in. Maybe they won't notice."
"It's full," came Mr. LIOLI's quick reply in that tone I now associate with the implied question, "Why don't you think any of the rules apply to you?" (Topic for self-reflection: Why don't I?)
"But how can the BEACH be FULL?" Apparently, we learned, it can. Well actually it was that the parking lot was full. Which wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that most MA coastal towns prohibit parking on the street from May to October, so no beach seekers can park, except in the beach parking lot, which is in fact full. For what reason, I have no idea. But apparently this is not an uncommon situation. Because the next one we tried was full too. And the next. And the next. At the fifth beach, we decided to give up. With defeated spirits we decided to stop by the salt marsh on our way out of town, "salt marsh" being a fancy term for "the sludgey mess that is left behind when the tide goes out in the summer." Something that looks approximately like this:
We found there an eclectic mix of folks who also apparently couldn't go to the beach, most of whom would fit squarely in a Jeff Foxworthy sketch. Anyway, we waded and laughed about our failure and Mr.LIOLI got bit by a black fly and we went to a clam shack and dairy queen on the way home. Thank God that these particular friends are the most flexible and adventurous ones we've got, because it certainly was an epic fail of a day.
But I'm still stuck on the fact that the beach can be full.