Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Boston and Birth Control

OK, so I've got two topics in for today's blogging challenge. We'll start with the one that's undoubtedly less controversial, but I guess that depends entirely on who you ask. Sports fans may disagree. :)

I was born and raised in the suburbs around Boston, Massachusetts. Not many people know this about me...I've moved around so much since then and I haven't lived in MA for more than three months since I left home to go to college in August 1989. 

It's funny that a few people don't believe me when I tell them where I'm from. Those of you who know me in person have figured out that I don't have an accent anymore. I used to have one--a fairly thick one at that--but I shed it when I went away to school because a linguist can't really have a Boston accent, or any accent, except one of the language he's speaking or risk looking stupid. Those who have known me for a while know that I can use it whenever necessary to blend in. 

Anyway, I am a huge fan of many things Boston. I love the sports teams; I'm a lifelong New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox fan. My dad used to take me to Patriots games growing up--when they were only $10 to get in, if you can believe that--and at that time they truly SUCKED. Going to the games was always awesome but those 2-14 seasons were rough. It makes me appreciate these days a lot more because I know what it's like to be sitting at home watching the playoffs while your team does the same. As for the Red Sox, well...I didn't get to many of their games but I feel very connected to Fenway Pahk and the Green Monstah. And yeah, I love Dunkin' Donuts, too. I've even been to the first one EVAH. 

Here are a few Boston tibdits for you:

1) We don't call it "Beantown". 
2) We are famous for our role in the Revolutionary War. I've been to the Old North Church, you know..."one if by land and two if by sea". Incidentally, the Battle of Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed's Hill. :)
3) There is only ONE kind of chowdah, and it's the white kind. There is no other chowdah. 
4) If you visit, go to the North End for fantastic Italian food and pastries, and to the Gahden if you want to see the Bruins or the Celtics. Good luck getting tickets, though. 
5) The inspiration for "Cheers" is a pub in Dorchester, a suburb near South Boston. A "Cheers" was constructed in the heart of downtown for tourists. No self-respecting Bostonian would ever be seen in there. 
6) If you fly in, don't look down...Logan Airport is built on an isthmus, an "island" connected by one strip of land to the coast. It reached its capacity years ago and has about 50% more flights coming in a day than it should. You have to fly over the water to get there and you won't see the runway until you're about 100 feet off the ground. You have been warned. 

I also went to high school in Boston. This brings me to the second part of my post. 

Before you continue, please understand that what comes next is a joke, something that really happened to me during high school. I do not in any way espouse the views to follow expressed by my former teacher. I hope to make that clear as we go on. 

Anyway, here's the background: In my junior year I had a math teacher who I'll call "Father Irish". He was a crusty, 70+ year old Jesuit priest who taught me Algebra 2. He was supposed to be teaching me math, but sometimes Father Irish decided he would educate us in other areas. His prayers before class were offered to "the Communists", "those who are mentally and physically ill" (he was annoyed with a classmate and looked directly at the young man as he said it one day!), and other groups who were not necessarily unfortunate as looked on as inferior. He also was not a fan of Italian I was far from his favorite. (My friend Luigi had it the worst, I think.)

One day after our prayer he decided to share with us his thoughts on sin; specifically, he had written a document he called "The Alphabet of Sin", and wanted to share it with us. Keep in mind that he's addressing 15- and 16-year-old boys; sadly, my high school had no women. When he started to speak, ahead of me in the row, a fellow classmate had an enormous pile of Doritos hidden under his book, and was receiving a two-liter bottle of soda from the guy in front of him. Father Irish had lost more than a step or two in his old age, but with this proclamation he had everyone's attention. 

While I didn't mention this in yesterday's post, he declared that, "A is for abortion and AIDS." I was stunned. He was really doing this! I knew the Catholic Church THOUGHT abortion was a sin, but I never believed it then, and I still don't. (As a man, my opinion on this issue is irrelevant, except to say that if my opinion mattered I am very staunchly pro-choice.) And the idea that AIDS was a sin? I thought...this is a disease that is killing people, and somehow it's a SIN? BULLSHIT. I was pretty upset, but at 15 in a Catholic high school, you shut up and keep your seat. 

"B is for BIRTH CONTROL!" he continued at a dull roar, and received a warm round of applause from the entire class. Birth control may have been the only control he knew about, because the laughter, catcalls, and jeers began, like, "What would you know about it, Fatha?" Despite feeling really uncomfortable, I started to laugh. I just hoped we all weren't going to get our collective asses kicked for being so disrespectful. It just became a complete joke. 

This is where the "alphabet" began, and he went through every letter "except for some like Q and Z". While I can't remember them all, as I go through this month, I'll be continuing the keep returning to the blog for more pieces. 

One final word: Just so there's no misunderstanding, neither abortion nor AIDS is a sin for me; since "sin" is not a concept that I believe in, they can't be, anyway. And I'm a huge fan of birth control as well. So there! :)

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