Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Googler

Like most men in greater Boston, my new boyfriend, Trusty, lives in Manland, a.k.a. Cambridge/Somerville. He is blissfully ignorant of what goes on on the southern bank of the river, even though he comes here every day to go to work. When I told him that I recently became a member of the Coolidge Corner Theater, one of the Boston area's most well-known artsy movie theaters, he sasked, "Where's that?", then followed with, "Ohhhh yes, I went there once." Once? He's lived in Boston for more than a decade!

This is one of the great mysteries of Boston: Why is it that people on the north side of the river seem to live full, happy lives without ever crossing into Boston, yet Bostonians venture north all the time? Why don't we just stick to our side like they do, since we have nearly everything we need here? Why do I go to the Kendall Square Cinema all the time even though Coolidge is closer AND I'm now a member??

Despite his geographical limitations, Trusty is a very good boyfriend. He is also an avid Googler. He loves to go down little Googling rabbit holes and learn all kinds of interesting information. On one of our first dates, he told me, "I have a confession to make. I Googled your last name." Most people Google their dates to see if they can find any dirt on them, but no, Trusty wanted to ask about my illustrious abolitionist ancestor who worked for Abe Lincoln. Unfortunately, I had to break it to him that I am only very distantly related. Not long thereafter, he informed me that he had spent a chunk of an afternoon Googling one of my state's great heroes, Joshua Chamberlain of the Battle of Gettysburg fame. I am a huge JC fan, so I was quite impressed.

Ever since I bought my condo, he's been Googling my new neighborhood and peppering me with facts about the surrounding area:

"You know, you're not far from the Silver Line. It's probably only a ten minute walk away. You could hop on that and be in the South End in no time." [The Silver Line, for those unfamiliar with Boston, is a bus that is painted silver to make people feel that it is fancier than a bus. It is fairly ridiculous, though maybe I will need to reevaluate if it turns out to be as useful to me as Trusty thinks it is.]

"The new Boston Public Schools headquarters is going to be in Dudley Square. It's quite a building. You should check it out. I think property values in your area could go up once the Dudley revitalization project is complete."

"Aahh yes, I'm familiar with the historic house that is next door to you. Its renovation was extensively covered in the Globe two years ago. It's a fascinating building." [Note that I was living in the neighborhood when the renovations were announced, and was utterly ignorant of these goings-on. Trusty, on the other hand, had never even heard of my neighborhood until I announced that I was moving here.]

It's quite impressive how much the Internet can teach us. Nonetheless, I'm glad that Trusty will be learning about Boston firsthand, too, if he continues to hang out with me.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The art of being unethical

My friend Slinky got me into an ethics conference this week to see one of my favorite writers for the New Yorker give a speech. When I got there, she mentioned that there was free breakfast, too. BONUS. I'm not one to pass on a free meal.

I sat down at a table and made friends with some Canadian women over our scones and coffee. They asked how I am connected to the conference. Since I wasn't completely clear on exactly what the purpose of the conference was, I felt I had to be honest.

"I'm a teacher," I explained. "I'm sort of crashing the conference. My friend got me in."

"So if you're a teacher, how come you're not at work today?"

"I should be at work," I answered, "but I'm going in a bit late. I told my boss I had a doctor's appointment."

"You lied to your boss so that you could go to an ethics conference, huh?"

I hadn't quite thought of it that way, but when she said it, it did sound kind of funny. A few minutes later, the same woman told me a story about how she had gotten from the airport to the conference. She decided to take public transit, but got confused. A nice man ended up swiping her through using his monthly transit card.

"Oh, how interesting!" I said. "You jumped the turnstile to get to the ethics conference."

I guess we all have our ethical pitfalls.