Looked out her front window
Struggling for breath,
Suffering slightly from
“Think I’ll just stay in and
Write about Death.”
“Doom” is the tough love message of New England: If you go around happy all the time, you just don’t understand the situation. I suspect this is partly the residue of Puritan religion (the real sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-angry-God stuff, not that hormone-soaked prissiness we call “puritanical” these days). Yet it must also result from living in a place where “Spring” is mostly an abstract construct with no identifiable correlative in the physical world.
New Englanders devise any number of strategies to cope with this, and I think it’s important to remember that giving right in to gloom–à la Belle of Amherst, supra–is but one. There is also sublimation (calling all BoSox fans) and projection (“I’m OK; you’re doomed”).
A few years ago, my daughter developed car trouble taking an acquaintance back to Cambridge. I drove into the city to rescue her and naturally got lost. I have long believed that in laying out the street system for Boston, the founders sought to create a metaphor for the Calvinist’s labyrinthine path to Grace. They were breathtakingly successful.
The maps I had printed out from MapQuest served me reasonably well until I made the first wrong turn, but I was soon hopelessly lost. I knew that the situation was ripe for a classic Boston moment. With a sinking feeling, I stopped to ask directions. The first person I saw was a huge guy loading boxes into the back of a station wagon. I explained my situation to him.
He looked at the MapQuest pages in my hand and shook his head. “You got these on the Internet?” he asked.
I admitted that, yes, I had.
“See,” he explained, “that’s why you’re completely fucked, right there…” He then gave me elaborate, utterly incorrect directions and walked away.