Tag Archives: Esplandade

Forgive Me Pink Blanket, for I Have Sinned

I’ve been so busy with the kid and life transitions, I have committed 2 summer Boston sins: The first was I forgot to look up the Free Friday Flicks list, as in, forgot it existed. Thanks to dancing Mike for picking up the slack! The 2nd was worse: once I was alerted to the movie list, I actually forgot about it again. This past Friday night was the first one. We were not there. Mike mentioned it when he saw me on Saturday night. Ugh.

I know there are far worse things, but right now these traditions feel even more important to help keep us grounded, so forgetting them seems really bad. But If I’ve learned anything during my 50+ years on the planet, it’s get over your damn self and keep going freak. Or maybe that’s what I yell at other drivers. Anywho, the movies take a 2 week hiatus to make way for the Fourth of July Pops festivities and I will be there on July 14 when they return.

While I sit in a corner to think about what I’ve done, here’s a post from a few years ago about how it should have happened. It will happen, but  just a little late. Unless I forget again. Middle age can be a real pain in the ass.

I walked to the Hatch Shell in Boston for my first Free Friday Flicks of the season—it’s my 29th year of watching movies there; the first one I remember was “Batman”— not the one with Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as the Joker. No, this was the made-for-TV Batman movie with Adam West (who has recently moved on to the bat cave in the sky) and Burt Ward, complete with the “Pow,” “Bam” and “Smash” hand drawn exclamation bubbles. (Young ones, Google it or just watch the SpongeBob episodes with Mermaid Man—same diff). Back then they also showed lots of classic movies. FFF, as we like to call it, was where I first saw Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, and Citizen Kane. I’m sure they were cheap for the city to get and the crowd was easy to please. It was a handful of mostly people like me—broke post-college and college students who were happy to find something—anything—free to do on a Friday night.

I’ve seen a lot of things come and go at FFF. But nearly always, at the core has been my pink blanket, aka F*cking Pink Blanket. For years, it has been the centerpiece, nay, the very FFF raison d’être, welcoming newcomers and seasoned attendees alike. Until last night. As usual, I had arrived early, unveiled the FP Blanket and secured the area. Something was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it until my friends came and pointed out, there were not one, not two but at least THREE other pink blankets around us. Of course, they were not nearly as amazing as the FP Blanket, but still, they were not pastel posers. I was concerned. I see you are puzzled; let me explain.

The FP Blanket, pictured above on Friday night, is at least 40 years old, and like all good things from the 70s, it’s made from an indestructible synthetic material that defies physics and logic. It hasn’t gotten any more worn, nor has the color faded. It’s just as f*cking pink now as it was when it was on the bed of whichever of my unlucky family members had it. Or maybe it was a guest blanket, which would explain our lack of guests growing up.

Before cell phones, meeting up with friends at the Hatch Shell was a challenge, as most of us left our carrier pigeons and tin cans with string at home. Thus, the neon pink blanket became an important feature for spotting our group amongst the sea of particularly unremarkable, yet confusing blankets. In the 90s, I met my friend Becky and invited her to FFF. She’s the one who dubbed the blanket the F*cking Pink Blanket. She‘s not profane, mind you—other than the blanket, I’d be hard pressed to tell you that last time I heard her swear. But she is an excellent story teller and that summer, on the blanket, she told a story about her friends who were trying to buy a tandem bike, an unusual item. They found an ad for one (in a print publication no doubt) and called the number (this was before the internet and before there were readily available photos. If you think it’s tiresome to keep reading about these stories that happened before the internet, imagine how tiresome it was to live this way — barbaric!) When they reached the seller, he said,in his pure Boston accent, “I gotta warn you, it’s f*cking pink.” The rest, as they say, is history, and ever after the blanket became the F*cking Pink Blanket.

So, you must understand, there can be no others. Because of my longevity and good nature, I have decided to give you, Other Pink Blanket Owners, a friendly warning.  I understand you must be new to FFF, so please know that I own the FP Blanket and you need to find another blanket to bring. I’m sure you will. Your flimsy, natural fiber blanket won’t last anyway, so I’m saving you a lot trouble. Maybe you can use yours for a sick dog or to cover up your IKEA furniture when you move out of Boston. Need some hints of what else you could bring? Low chairs, sleeping bags, and really any kind of blanket is acceptable. Except pink. That’s my blanket and how people find me, not you. No one wants to sit with you, who has the fake, non-F*cking Pink Blanket. And don’t think for a minute little girl with the square pink blanket that I’m going to go any easier on you than I will on the others. Cute doesn’t play in my town, sister, and make no mistake, this is my town and my FFF. Thank you for attention to this matter, and I look forward to not seeing you next week.

Sincerely,

Sandy, owner of the true and only F*cking Pink Blanket.

Confessions of a Lazy Bostonian

Boston just celebrated another Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Fourth of July. People come from all over the country to be here and experience the concert, the 1812 Overture with Boston’s ringing church bells and firing cannons, and of course the fireworks. For a number of years, the event was even nationally televised, which I was proud of until I realized it moved the fireworks to be an hour later to synchronize with other nationally televised fireworks, like those in New York. Why do I have to get home at 12:30 or 1 am because some poindexter television programming executive thinks New York fireworks are more important? When the televised contract wasn’t renewed, I breathed a sigh of relief that the fireworks could return to the earlier time slot, and I could get squished home in the human river of attendees at a decent hour.

But the funny thing is, I haven’t made it down to the Esplanade since then. Which reminds me, let me apologize to all the tourists who find our names unpronounceable. On Thursday I was by the river near where the concert and fireworks are held and a tourist couple asked me, “How do you pronounce that place with the fireworks, ‘Es-play-nade’?”

For the record, it’s pronounced “Es-pluh-nod.” And that’s the same with or without the Boston accent. Then they wanted directions to that place with the shops and restaurants that begins with an “F”. Ah, Faneuil Hall, another hard to pronounce/remember word. I pointed down the street and told them to go that way, and then to ask again in a few blocks. That’s my strategy rather than trying to explain how to get somewhere with roads that twist and curve unhelpfully and the term “city block” is more of a quaint suggestion than a useful measure of distance.

But back to the Fourth—when I was younger, my friends and I would go in groups—different groups of friends for different years, and we each had a favorite strategy or place to see the fireworks from, based on years of trial and error.  The main objective for all of them was to swoop in around 6 or 7 pm in a place that wasn’t wall-to-wall people, have a bit of time to socialize and eat, then watch the concert on the big screens they set up for anyone not actually sitting in front of the stage, see the fireworks, and get out. Two intrepid friends actually kayaked and watched the fireworks on the river. Two others braved the all-day-on-the-oval experience. I’m a trooper, but that’s too hardcore even for me. My idea of a good time does not include being stationed all day in one spot guarding the boundaries of your blanket against enthusiastic patriotic encroachment.

The first year I didn’t go down to see the fireworks in person was when my son was just four months, and I couldn’t face the sheer amount of stuff I would need to bring him. Not to mention I was still a new enough mother that I couldn’t guarantee that I’d be able to quiet him if he decided, being a new enough baby, to howl like he was getting murdered. But as I watched the fireworks on TV that year, it so awfully paled in comparison to seeing them in person, I vowed like Scarlett O’Hara to never miss them in person again. And I didn’t for a long time.

But then the friends began to scatter and in the pre-during-post divorce years I didn’t have the energy to throw myself into that party of more than 100,000 people. I do have my Bostonian pride, though, and told myself I’d get back to it once life had settled. And then I moved to my current apartment up on a hill, and I discovered I can actually see the fireworks in the distance from the end of my driveway. So life is now happily settled, and I’m finding it really hard to make good on my promise. I could be talked into it, but there is no one to do it—my friends still scatter to other places for the Fourth, and my teen son prefers to stay camped out at his computer until the fireworks come on, when he’ll join me at the end of the driveway to oooh and aaah.

So I feel a little guilty that people come from all over to see this, and I was lazy and stayed home. But at least I didn’t watch it on TV, and if I’m being perfectly honest, I selflessly made room for an enthusiastic out-of-towner to have a grand time on the esplaynade. What’s more patriotic than that?