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Monday, Jan. 13, 2003 - 4:53 p.m.

Back in Boston

I haven't felt that cold since trudging laboriously against the wind of a cold, gray South Bend February day. Saturday was cold in Boston. Leanne had told us to dress warmly, but I still managed to not think of bringing a turtleneck, or heavier sweater, or long underwear, or my vest to wear underneath my jacket. It was a shame, too, because I think I would've enjoyed the afternoon a little more had I not been so bone-chillingly cold. It felt like my clothes did nothing to block the wind.

But other than that, it was a great weekend in New England.

While Casey and I didn't arrive until just after midnight Friday and, therefore, didn't do much before Saturday morning, I think we crammed as much into the time we spent as we could. On Saturday, Jess and I took the T from South Boston into the city to meet up with Casey and Leanne, who were walking in from Leanne's apartment in the North End. The T only costs a dollar, which might seem like a bargain compared to New York's soon-to-increase $1.50 until you remember that the T stops running at like 2 a.m.

Jess and I wandered in circles in the cold of Boston's historic section (near Government Center) until she figured out which way to Faneuil Hall. I can never tell which direction is which in that part of the city. It always turns me around. We walked by the Old State House, the site of the Boston Massacre, the Starbucks where the Boston Tea Party started, the McDonald's where Paul Revere stopped for a shake after his Midnight Ride ... there's history all over downtown Boston.

In Faneuil Hall we thawed out until Casey and Leanne met up with us and we made our way to Boston Common. The route along the Freedom Trail a red line painted on the sidewalks (or a different arrangement of bricks on the brick sidewalks) took us past one particular old cemetery where Samuel Adams is buried, and I paid homage to the wonderful Boston beermaker. In the Common, we skirted the anti-war protesters and crossed over to the gardens, where the Make Way For Ducklings statues are. I don't ever remember hearing about the story, or the statues, but they were cute.

We stopped in Anthropologie (I think), one of those trendy clothing/home stores that tries to make you believe that tearing pages out of a book from the 1920s is an acceptable form of home decoration. (And I tend give some of those suggestions at least a little consideration.) But it was warm, and Casey liked the skirt she found. Meanwhile, since our stop at the Ducklings, Jess had been on the phone with Dave, who was driving in from Natick. By the time we left Anthropologie, he was off the T at Copley Square. We were in Restoration Hardware by then. "Of course you are," Dave said he told Jess when we met him moments later, back out in the cold.

So we had a very late lunch at Joe's American Grill before splitting up again: Casey and Leanne to the North End; the rest of us to Southie.

For dinner, we all convened at Leanne's apartment, which may not have had a single 90-degree angle on any two walls. Her kitchen counters meet at a 30-degree angle, allowing one drawer near the sink to open only three inches. Bryan and Jim were with us, and Bill had finally joined us as well. It was the first time Casey and I met Bill, and while I'd only met Leanne once before (on my own, without even Casey there), I had a picture in my head of Bill as a gorgeous hunk, a former college athlete. Instead, I met a "regular guy" who wears glasses and is tall and husky. He once weighed 300 pounds, Casey informed me yesterday, but now he doesn't look overweight.

"That's one of the things I like about you and Leanne," I told Casey last night, "you fell for the regular guys."

We ordered pizza and drank Boston beer (Sam Adams and Harpoon) while watching the Falcons-Eagles game before walking back down toward the Fleet Center to finish off the night at Porter's. We first tried a bar called McGann's, but balked at the $5 cover. "That's right!" Bryan said. "We tried to do this one other time, but didn't want to pay the cover, so we went next door instead. That's where it is!"

"It" refers to the beer we were seeking.

Duff Beer.

I don't know that we were drinking this Duff Beer, but I'm sure it wasn't this Duff Beer. It wasn't anything to write home about, either, with the exception that it was DUFF BEER! The taste was bland kind of like Coors Light or Old Style, but not really to that extreme. I didn't care; I was druink. And drunk.

Porter's was pretty empty, particularly for being a bar just down the block from the Fleet Center on a Saturday night when the Bruins beat the Leafs 6-2. Maybe because we didn't arrive until after midnight, when maybe the puckheads had gone home (except for the one guy on a stool wearing a Samsonov jersey). It was empty enough for there not to be a line for the restrooms, which were single-use units labeled MEN and WOMEN. As I waited outside the men's room with another patron, the door opened and a woman walked out. Followed by a Squiggy lookalike in a leather jacket. "I don't think I want to know," the guy next to me said. Moments after he closed the door to the men's room, the women's room opened, and a guy walked out. I just leaned against the wall, drunk and confused.

Yesterday we made plans for breakfast. Not ambitious plans, because we knew we wouldn't wake early. Instead, Bryan targeted 11 a.m., and we picked up Bryan and Jim and met Casey and Leanne at Mul's Diner on Broadway in Southie. But it was too crowded for so many of us, so we settled for a more-than-adequate brunch buffett across the street at Amrhein's. Great potatoes.

After brunch, we began going our seperate ways. Leanne took the T back into the city to stop by her office, then get ready to fly to Rochester for work. Bryan and Jim were going down to the South Shore to freeze on the beach (Jim's request). Casey, Jess, Dave and I retreated to my sister's apartment for a little while before the three of us decided we should hit the road. Dave led the way into New York which we made in just over three hours and then I led him to our apartment, where we brought back Boston Market for dinner (ironic, no, that we leave Boston and decide to eat Boston Market for dinner? We thought so.) and watched The Simpsons and Alias.

And for some reason, the gas company was outside our house tearing up the sidewalk and making the yard smell like gas late into the night. But nothing blew up and we had hot water again by this morning, so I suppose everything's OK.

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