Monday, May 14, 2007
Massholes R Us
Returning to MA was a prospect that often filled me with both loathing and wonder. The loathing mostly stemmed from my ongoing, ever-present fear of becoming a Townie. I liked my childhood and adolescence fine, and was happy enough as it was occurring. But both my parents and something inside me always insisted that my town was fine enough a place to start out but nowhere to end up. By my senior year of high school I couldn’t wait to escape, so confining was what I considered to be the aggressive provincialism of my town. I was all-too aware of how returning college students were treated if they’d dared to go more than 30 miles away, how anyone who confessed a need for “more than this” was branded a snot, a person who thought too highly of herself. If you didn’t want to laugh at the kid who was obviously gay but struggling with the knowledge, or the one Jewish kid in the school, or the ten Black kids, you just didn’t fit in. If you listened to the wrong kind of music (me, it was REM and 10,000 Maniacs and various British bands—absolutely not the approved Guns-N-Roses/Zeppelin/Top Ten stuff), you were not to be trusted. At the time I couldn’t put my finger on it, but now as I look back it was a fear of the unknown, a distrust of the unfamiliar, a seemingly community-level resistance to a change of tradition, i.e., gays, “coloreds,” “retards.” Maybe I’m describing every high school in America, but for me this was my experience and it simply sucked the life out of me even as I played sports, got elected to student government, dated boys, did all the things high schoolers do. I was pretty much pretending to be someone I wasn’t just until I could escape and breathe free. I never begrudged the happiness of anyone who wanted to stay; I just knew that I needed to go somewhere else. I just so desperately, deeply, overwhelmingly couldn’t wait to escape the suffocation I felt every day of senior year, and that I can recall vividly even now as I write this.
When my parents retired elsewhere during my college years, I didn’t mourn my old bedroom, old yard, old hangouts for even a minute. I missed people and I missed memories made in certain places, but I did not long for the places. I never missed the place or its recalcitrant parochialism for one minute. So my return north was unavoidably colored by my feelings about my hometown. Luckily, my new digs are about an hour—and a million years—from it (or, more accurately, am *I* or is 2007?), which has made my return so much more psychically rewarding to the point that I can simply focus on all the wonderful wondrous wonders of being a Masshole again. For example:
No. 1: Dunkin Donuts on every block.
No. 2: Women who call you “Hun.”
No. 3: The highest ratio of men’s face to goatee (fu manchu?) hair in the nation. I deplore the look but seeing it everywhere offers a strange kind of nostalgic comfort.
No. 4: Turning on the local news and seeing the same old anchors and reporters. All of whom have aged right along with me. And damn if I don’t look better. ;)
No. 5: Red Sox hats everywhere. And no Roger Clemens anywhere.
Ah yes, it’s good to be home. Especially when it’s a place I’ve never lived before.
*Shirt from massholeproshop.com