Monday, April 04, 2011

Goodbye Professor Thom's

“The Party’s Over”, “End of the Road”, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”, “Is This The End” (yeah, I have to have New Edition) --- Oh, sorry.  You caught me in the middle of making a mix tape for my latest breakup…

No, my marriage is fine, better than ever, in fact.  The breakup I’m referring to is between me and that tempestuous girlfriend of mine named Professor Thom’s.  She kept me up many a boozy night, even carried on with anyone that came in the door, and I kept coming back.  But no more.  The party’s over, Doris Day.

As of last Friday, April 1, I have left Professor Thom’s.  I sold my ownership and moved on. Some of you, I’m sure, are shocked.  Some of you are thinking, “Who the hell is this guy?”  Well you’re both right. 

I was the guy behind the bar who forced you on to this email list.  (To be clear, I am not pictured above. That is Pez.) I am the guy who cannot buy garden shears from a garage sale in New Jersey because they think I keep saying “garden chairs” and want to sell me two beat-up blue folding chairs for 10 bucks.  “Oh, you mean the SHE-AIRRRSS.” I painfully digress.

Truthfully, I stayed a year longer than I should have.  The only thing that was keeping me there was the terrific staff and customers new and old in the bar every night.  I learned more about being a New Englander in the five years since I opened Professor Thom’s than in the 20 years I spent growing up in Boston. 

I found across the bar in most of you a mild recalcitrance in common, some dogged unwillingness to completely open up until it was safe to do so.  And the bar sure was safe.  I learned from you that my guilt-obsessed, overly reserved, insecure, mistrustful personality was not just an awkward vestige of my Calvinist forbearers, but a true, not so subtle mark of being a New Englander. We’re guarded and then some.  And we’ll be damned if we let on how we feel. 

When you ask a New Englander, “How are you?” Generally, “OK” means fine, “Fine” means “great”. And “Great” means “terrible but I don’t want to burden you with my problems.” That is, until you become close to the person. At that point the answer is always “terrible”.

Furthermore, and most important, I now know where some of the Massachusetts suburbs are in relation to Boston. Whitman is south and South Hadley is west. 

I know that Everyone from Brookline lives in New York City. Most of Newton too.

People from New Hampshire will never tell you which town they’re from because they assume you’ve never heard of it, even though we have all driven through almost the entirety of New Hampshire.

Rhode Island is small.  People from there do all know each other.  They just need five minutes (and three beers) sitting at the bar to work out how.

Mainers are nuts.

People who say they are from Lowell are from Haverhill, unless they say they’re from Haverhill.  In that case, they’re from Dracut.

If you tell someone in New York you’re from Boston, you will be asked if you are from Southie. [Editors note: Since the release of “The Town” and its subsequent popularity, some have replaced the assumption of Southie with Charlestown.  Same thing.] However, until the Afflecks do a movie about Brighton (where Old Benny boy shot “Zoom” as a tot) no one will understand that Brighton is part of Boston.

Those are but a few of the takeaways for me.

This isn’t meant to be negative. I already miss every single detail listed above.

I understand that not everyone that came into Thom’s was from New England, and, gasp, not everyone was a Sox fan. That’s what made Thom’s work.  No matter where you were from, you could feel at home.

Also, I take with me terrific memories of Sox games and Celts and Pats games which are immortalized on YouTube and on DVD. Among other highlights were Clamapaloozas, a kick-off for Narragansett 3 years before they came to New York and dozens of Harpoon events. How about Bill Lee’s birthday party and Luis Tiant’s film premiere party?  How about Freddy Lynn just hanging out at the bar drinking?

Although, I am not at Thom’s I still retain the honor of being Governor of Red Sox Nation for the state of New York.  As such, I will host watch parties all season and a World Series Trophy party as season’s end.
Follow this occasional newsletter or my blog for updates on Sox parties and some of the writing I’m doing about baseball.  Hell, follow me on Twitter.

If you have questions or comments about any of this, feel free to email me or post it on the blog or on Twitter.

Thank you sincerely for the past 5 years.


Is this the end? are you my friend? 
It seems to me, you ought to be free.
You used to be mine when the chips were down.
You used to be mine when I weren’t around.

- Jonzun, Michael; Starr, Maurice

...If You Ain't Got That Ring.