21 things you have to explain to out-of-towners about Boston

You live in Boston, the "Hub of the Solar System" (a tip of the hat to you, Mr. Oliver Wendell Holmes). You will inevitably have people visit who have not been to Boston, because they love history, or they once watched Good Will Hunting, or they are your parents. They'll invariably have questions while you're walking the Freedom Trail with them (it's inescapable). You'll need some answers. Here they are.

1. Quincy Market isn’t that great

This grand old historic building is now a glorified, really long, really REALLY crowded food court. Locals steer clear of this hot mess. There are better places to eat. We swear.

2. The original Cheers bar isn’t the one you just saw at Quincy Market. Because you insisted on going there anyway. Because you don't LISTEN.

It’s by the Public Garden. And inside, it looks nothing like the one on the show. Melville’s is not upstairs. Nobody will know your name. What's that? You want to go anyway? Sigh.

3. The Freedom Trail is really, really long

Seriously. It’s 2.5mi end-to-end. To non-city dwellers, that’s the same distance as from Earth to Alpha Centauri. You’ve been warned, Mr. "I can barely walk to the end of my driveway" who insisted on sporting flip flips today.

Harvard Yard Things you have to explain to out-of-towners about BOS
Harvard University

4. Not everybody "pahks the cah in Hahvahd Yahd"

The oft-imitated, never-quite-duplicated, frequently mutilated Boston accent (cough... Tim Robbins in Mystic River... cough) is only prevalent in certain pockets of town (cough... Southie). Side note: there is no parking in Harvard Yard. Please, just don't say this. Ever. 

5. "Wicked pissah" means "really good"

Accents aside, the local lexicon has lots of peppah. If you need a water fountain, ask for a bubbler (or bubblah). We also put jimmies (NOT sprinkles) on our ice cream, and buy booze at a packie.

6. Don’t even bother trying to spell Worcester, or Gloucester, by sounding them out

It won’t end well for anyone.

7. Southie isn’t really like all those Ben Affleck movies starring Casey Affleck

Due to some pretty intense gentrification, some parts of Southie now seem like extensions of the South End. While other parts of Southie are still EXACTLY LIKE THOSE BEN AFFLECK MOVIES STARRING CASEY AFFLECK.

8. Everyone here drives like a Masshole

Have you ever seen a "Massachusetts Left"? You will. Any hesitation AT ALL while driving (or walking, for that matter) gets you an ear full of car horn. Don’t take it personally when Nana flips you the bird.

9. We don’t call it "Beantown" anymore, so neither should you

Why? Because nobody has made or eaten Boston baked beans since FDR was in the White House.

Subway Things you have to explain to out-of-towners about BOS
Flickr User idntfd

10. On the weekends, bars close at 1am or 2am

It's going to feel early if you're used to NYC hours. Good news though, the T (that's the train) now runs until 3am on weekends. It used to stop at 12:45am. This made sense to no one.

11. The cab situation is abysmal

You won’t get one when you need one. You will be treated like a pariah if you call dispatch. You can’t hail a Boston cab in Cambridge, or a Cambridge cab in Boston (Dumbest. Thing. Ever.). It costs $38.50 to go four blocks. Every trip somehow requires a detour through the Ted Williams Tunnel. And if you think the driving of the rest of the population is scary, wait until you see the cabbies.

12. Yes, there really is a Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner

Sometimes there are several, just in case. 

13. There is no tunnel to the Cape and no bridge to the Vineyard

You've been had!

14. Not every Irish pub here is authentic, but they all claim to be

Pro tip: the louder they broadcast their authenticity, the more suspect you should be. For your best pint of Guinness, find a quiet corner bar filled with old men tucking into shepherd’s pie or bangers and mash. Or just go to JP.

Winter Things you have to explain to out-of-towners about BOS
City of Boston

15. Winters are... challenging

They start early. They end late. Nor'easter might be the worst pseudo-word in the English language. If the snow doesn’t get you, the frigid, persistent winds will. Maybe plan your visit for June.

16. The Big Dig is over

And you helped us pay for the most expensive, troubled, ridiculed nightmare of a highway project ever in the US. Thanks! We don't want to talk about it.

17. The street system defies geometry and human logic

It looks like the work of a 5yr-old using a broken Spirograph. Every street is one way in the opposite direction you need to go. Just walk and forget driving. Consider Downtown one of those "closed courses for professional drivers" that you see on commercials.

18. Candlepin bowling is better than what you call bowling

It’s the same basic configuration and you wear the same gross shoes. But you get three chances to roll a skee ball at 10 skinny, weirdly shaped pins. The pins don’t get cleared each time so you can use the "dead wood" to knock down anything left standing. Basically, it's awesome.

Frappe Things you have to explain to out-of-towners about BOS
Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage

19. We get the day off for the Boston Marathon

Not only does it happen on Patriots’ Day, where we celebrate kicking the crap out of the British during the Revolutionary War by getting an official holiday, but it also has enough unique quirks (the Wellesley College scream tunnel, the BC students at Heartbreak Hill, the Sox game at 11:05am, hordes of people in silvery metallic capes drinking at bars) to dominate all other marathons, ever.

20. A frappe is a frappe

It’s NOT a milkshake and you’ll never understand and WHEN ARE YOU LEAVING ANYWAY?

21. It's better than New York

No arguments.

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