My friend Colleen from Oregon was here visiting me all last week, and I had a lot of fun playing tour guide, even though it meant getting up at the crack dawn instead of going to bed at that time, as I usually do.
Colleen wanted to see Boston, so I was determined to show it to her. The only problem is, to me, driving in Boston is kind of like being the ball in a giant pinball machine…only worse.
When I happened to mention my fear of driving in Boston to Rob, a friend of ours who lives in the Boston area and has had years of experience driving in the city, he offered to drive Colleen and me around all day…once we arrived in Boston. It was the “arriving” part that bothered me.
“What’s the farthest distance you’ll travel to come pick us up?” I asked him, hoping he would say somewhere in New Hampshire – like Manchester.
“Oh, maybe Watertown or that general area,” he said.
As far as I was concerned, that still was about 40 miles too far.
So I headed to my computer and searched for information about buses to Boston. I was excited to discover that Concord Coach had an express bus leaving every hour for only $28 round-trip. I immediately bought two tickets.
The last time I’d taken a bus to Boston, I was a senior in high school and my friend Maureen and I wanted to buy some “cool” clothes like the ones sold on Carnaby Street in London. That, however, was so long ago, the bus we’d taken probably had been pulled by a horse.
But this bus to Boston turned out to be modern and spacious, with comfortable seats, plenty of leg room, and even hook-ups for computers. The only thing it lacked was heat. The temperature that morning was about 35 degrees, and I could swear the bus had its air-conditioning on.
We arrived at South Station in Boston an hour and 20 minutes later. It was a huge station, with people and buses everywhere. We immediately called Rob, our private chauffeur, and told him we’d arrived. He said he was on his way.
All I can say is cell phones are a real blessing because a half-hour later, we still were trying to find Rob.
“Are you near McDonald’s?” Rob asked me over the phone. “Can you see any street signs? Go to the food court in the bus station and stay there!”
Finally, we connected, and were off on a whirlwind tour of Boston. Rob took us to all of the main attractions: Boston Common, Fenway Park, Cheers, the Prudential Building, Faneuil Hall, the theater district and much more. He also gave us a running history of each site, and when he didn’t know the exact details, he’d make them up.
“There’s Faneuil Hall, where…Samuel somebody signed the Constitution…or something…back in the old days.”
“Wasn’t that in Philadelphia?” Colleen asked.
“Let me show you where the ships dock,” he answered, changing the subject.
Colleen and I went to the top of the Prudential Building and “oohed” over the breathtaking views of Boston from up there – although the glass, with all of its fingerprints, nose prints and heaven only knows what other kind of prints, could have used a good cleaning.
Then, we headed over to Quincy Market to grab something to eat. Never have I seen so much food in one place. It was like a mile-long buffet, all under one roof. I think just about every nationality was represented – and I drooled my way through every country.
As Colleen and I were trying to decide which of the 100,000 food items we wanted to try, a guy came up to us and said, “We’re filming a show called TV Diner with Billy Costa, and we need some ‘bodies’ to stand behind him and applaud. Want to join us?”
It had been a long time since anyone had wanted my body for anything, so Colleen and I said, “Sure!” and were led over to Billy and his co-host, who were surrounded by cameras and lights. We stood behind them and were instructed to applaud and cheer when Billy mentioned some restaurant, the name of which escapes me now. Anyway, we cheered enthusiastically for a restaurant we’d never even heard of.
The worst part is I probably never will see our 15 minutes of fame because Direct TV, which is what we have, doesn’t carry the station on which the show, TV Diner, appears.
Still, considering the fact that it was one of the windiest days of the year in Boston that day, and my hair was standing straight up on my head by the time we hit Quincy Market, it’s probably a good thing I’ll never see myself on TV.
The bus back home was neither as modern nor as spacious as the bus we’d taken on the way down. But at least it was heated. Unfortunately, and there usually is one in every crowd, Typhoid Mary sat on the other side of Colleen.
Throughout the ride back to Concord, the woman coughed, sneezed, blew her nose and nearly hacked up a lung. I could just envision millions of cold germs swarming around us and cackling maniacally, “There’s no way out! You are trapped on this bus with us for the next hour and 20 minutes!”
Sure enough, two days later, poor Colleen was coughing, sniffling, sneezing and practically buying stock in the Kleenex Company.
Somehow, I don’t think that’s what she’d meant she said she wanted a souvenir of New Hampshire to take home with her.