Checking in at the B.U. Admissions desk they inform us that "lunch on us" is for students only. They hand me a yellow sheet with recommendations to fend for myself. The mom next to me asks which of the choices has "good salads." The desk guy says enthusiastically, "Boston Beer Works." I don't feel like I know Boston at all. Certainly haven't been able to recognize any of it from the maps. But it's a beautiful day, sunny for the first time in this northeastern swing and I''m game to set out. I walk left. Turn right and aha, there's the Citgo sign that John made such a big deal out of last year when we were here. Of course, it's the Citgo sign you see from Fenway - not that I ever have. But I remember him saying that. And I realize we were right across the street on our last trip here a year ago, showing Reel Paradise at B.U.
I cross and head right, up a hill, over a bridge over traffic. OK, I see some restaurants. In fact, some sporty restaurants. And Duh! ohmigod, there's the green. There's Fenway! Right in front of me, jammed behind these restaurants. It's a hilarious realization, sweetened by the two recent wins. I'm so not a sports fan, but even I am delighted by the Red Sox this year, and all things Boston (Go Ben and Gone Baby Gone!) and thrilled to be in the neighborhood this second day after.
I head into Boston Beer Works where the host suggests I sit at the bar. It's mid afternoon, semi empty, lots of room to spread out the NYT and two Boston papers while I lunch alone. Looking forward to reading in Escapes the two articles John's tipped me too - one on rafting on the Deliverance river, the other on the wonder of daytrips to Cold Spring. No, there aren't really any salads on the menu, but the burger sounds good. And it is. The bartender is adorable, adding to the good vibe. He's whizzing around, and several times I notice he's pouring drinks with something in them. Something dark and round. A bit like the bubble tea I finally experienced yesterday on a lovely side street in Philly. I'd thought the "bubble" referred to some kind of bubble. In fact it refers to a kind of marzipan chewy circle. Were they putting that in the beer too? I signal the bartender, "what up?" Not ordering, just asking. He slides me a sample taste of their famous brewed ale with maine blueberries. Blueberries! It's disgusting. But immensely popular.
I head out amused. What is it about Boston that's so different from Austin? And Philly and Pittsburgh too? Ignorantly, I think it has everything to do with the Italians and Irish. I feel their influence so intensely in these eastern states. So familiar. Enjoyable. Even more so now that I'm loving Texas so much. It's all about the contrasts. Pittsburgh and Philly and Boston, and even the sad town of Bethlehem PA all the more sweeter from my Texas skew.