Summah Tourist Season
Summer in Boston pretty much sucks. Why? Cause it's tourist season
You know the old joke. Why do they call it tourist "season?" You can't shoot 'em.
Just kidding, of course. Because we all know how wonderful visitors are for the New England economy.
Still, you can only take so many trolleys and duck tours. We get rid of the BU and Harvard students for a few blessed weeks and now they're replaced by rubes in Bermuda shorts with their subway maps, standing in the middle of the platform, puzzling over the location of "Coh-plee" station.
Better, though, that they remain on the T rather than in their cars. They're a menace on the roads. At stop signs, they actually stop. And what's with these . . . turn signals?
In the White Mountains of New Hampshire, block-long recreational vehicles ply rustic two-lanes at 15 to 20 miles per hour under the speed limit. They're braking to take in every single waterfall and meander in the Saco River.
And the questions they ask us. In Vermont, in New York-ese, they want directions to Ben and Jerry's. In Lowell, to Jack Kerouac's grave. In Maine, in heavily accented French, delivered in a haze of second-hand smoke, they ask: "Which way, Hold Horchard Beeesh?"
On the Cape: "Where are the best clams?" Or, "Where do the Kennedys live?"
Despite all their maps, the tourists don't have a great grasp on geography. A common question in Plymouth, N.H.: "Where's the rock?"
A few drops of rain begin to fall on the Cape, and suddenly Route 6A is thronged with people looking for directions on how to get to… Chappaquiddick.
Some tourist attractions have faded over the years. The Cheers bar, for instance, much to the chagrin of Tom Kershaw no doubt. Has anyone asked lately how to get to South Boston High, although what is there to see now, other than the nearby houses of the local pols which will be worth ever so much more if the neighborhood can shed its morning infusion of 23-year-old, out-on-bail sophomores.
Nah, your average tourist now just wants directions to the L Street Tavern, the "Good Will Hunting" bar.
Just as well the tourists stay around Faneuil Hall. You've seen the new Austin Powers movie? Dr. Evil and Mini-Me? You can see the exact same phenomenon any sunny summer afternoon in Quincy Market. The father weighs in at 300-plus pounds and has a quadruple chin. His son tips the scale at 200-plus pounds and only has a triple chin, mainly because he's only 12.
Then you've got the Fenway groupies - the Field of Dreams crowd. They can't raze Fenway Park soon enough, just to scatter this Rotisserie League crowd.
And by the way, why does it bother so many of them to get carded, whether it's at Fenway or a New Hampshire state liquor store? Don't they ask for photo ID's back in Ohio?
Then there's the country-tourist set. They rent a shack for $2,000 a week and pick some berries. Two days in, they buy a bumper sticker at the general store that says, Natives Drive 20 in 'Sconset, and suddenly they've gone native, or think they have. Here's a bulletin. We don't pick flowers in other people's yards. And we damn sure don't go running in tight spandex if our skin is fish-belly white.
Speaking of jogging, watch out for the minivans with the unleashed dogs in 'em. Just ask Stephen King.
But summer in New England is never really complete until that tearful story in the Monday-morning papers sometime in August. A tourist family's minivan has been stolen, and the accompanying photo includes the weeping tow-headed kids, the overweight mom with the outdated Kathleen Soliah haircut and a sunburned dad overcome with emotion.
"We don't care about the van, but our golden retriever, Jake, was inside, and he's 12 years old and if he doesn't get his medication…"
Do we look that stupid when we visit Des Moines? We'll never know, because we'll never go.