Friday, May 13, 2005

and this is....NOT Walden pond 

A couple of weeks ago in the lab, discussion turned to Boston. My friend and fellow grad student, Brenda, defended her thesis months ago, and recently went on several interviews for post doc positions, one of which was in Boston.

She's decided to take the position in Boston.

First, this will be quite the change for her in her husband as they both grew up in Florida, then moved to Georgia.

Anyway, there are several of us yankees in the lab, so we've been regaling winter horror stories of the north, and sharing any Boston related stories we had with her.

I've only been to Boston once, in high school for a history club trip. It is a trip that lives in infamy, because for years afterwards, club trips were forbidden.

First of all, the trip was poorly organized. We drove up on a bus overnight, spent a day and night in Boston, and then drove back the third night. We hit a good number of typical historical type stuff: Walden Pond, Emerson's house, the house of 7 gables, lots and lots of really old graveyards, we even drove to Salem to visit the witch museum. Fun! However, during all of this...chaos reigned!

The advisor to the history club, Mr KP, was a real man-ditz. He was more concerned with being considered cool (as cool as a creepy old man with a total of 8 eyebrow hairs, each 4 inches long, could be) than enforcing any real discipline. So we'd be driving around in the bus, going from one attraction to another, and then the bus would pull over in some random part of town, and Mr KP would announce "OK, you've got 45 minutes for lunch! be back at the bus at 1:00!"

wtf? We were teenagers, and you're just dropping us off in the ghetto? There weren't any fast food restaurants, only sit down places that would have taken longer than we had (by the time we'd find a place, check out the menu to see if we could afford it, sit down, order, wait for our meal...we'd have to be back at the bus!). The only places that were quick and plentiful were Au Bon Pains. And I pronounced it "a bon payne." Finally, my friend Jen, who was taking French class, would whip around at me and in a voice out of the pit of hell, proclaimed "it is NOT 'a bon payne!!!! it is uh bohn puh!!!!!!!"


So anyway, it's amazing that no one got lost, abducted, shot at, etc. There were, however, a group of delinquents that joined the club at the last minute, just so they could go on the trip and cause problems.

(that sentence sounds weird...like, "they weren't in it for the history, man!" like we were, or something. it was more like: "dude! free trip to Boston! we're SO there!")

So they snuck alcohol and drugs on the trip and were pretty must wasted the entire trip. They'd scream HOOOOOOOTERS!!!!! out the bus window at every woman they saw on the street, and just basically be obnxious the whole time.

Hence, the cessation of class trips for many years afterwards.

However, the FUNNIEST thing about that trip were the two guys, G and D, who made it their mission to (and I am SO not making this up!) lick as many historical artifacts as possible, while no one was looking.

We'd be in some random historical house, learning about how they used to put out fires in the olden days, how every house had a leather bucket, and the townspeople would form a line and pass the buckets full of water down, and she'd cheerfully point out the bucket hanging by the steps, and then we'd move on to learn how they did laundry, and as soon as we walked away from the bucket, you'd hear this muffled laughter from the back of the group. I would turn around, and there would be G and D, laughing, and the authentic leather bucket, gently swaying on its hook, a small wet spot quickly drying on its side.

Oh, my, the fun that was had! I don't even know how many artifacts they licked, but they got quite a few. So next time you're touring some of the historical homes in Boston, take a close look at any writing tables or cookware you see....and think "G and D licked here."

One other funny story from that trip. We took the bus to see Walden pond, as many of us had already read Thoreau's snoozer about what a great naturalist he was (and by the way, he really wasn't). The bus let us off near some woods, and we walked on a path until we found a body of water which was presumable Walden pond.

We weren't impressed. There were houses on it. And no signs, or anything. We walked around, threw some rocks in the water. A couple of people filled up bottles with the water. G and D DRANK the water. We all took pictures. After a while, we had experienced all that Walden pond could teach us, we started walking back to the bus.

When we got back, someone realized that that hadn't been Walden Pond.


Apparently, there are two ponds: Walden pond, and then...another. Which we affectionately called "not walden pond." So we hiked it back a little further out to the REAL Walden pond, which had NO houses on it, signs proclaiming the site with Thoreau quotes, a rock pile where former visitors wrote names and messages on rocks and piled them up. ("ummm...does anyone have a pen?" "nope" "dammit!"). And we repeated the whole experience again: rock throwing, water saving...drinking, etc)

Later, when we showed pictures to friends and family, we would say "this is Walden pond. This is NOT Walden pond"

OK, so maybe a lot of this is "oh well, you had to be there" stuff, but Brenda got a HUGE kick out of the licking thing and will hopefully look forward to the next few years in Boston.

She's not looking forward to the rent payments. But dammit, they WILL enjoy the pre-licked historical artifacts!!!