Sunday, August 3, 2008

Playing Nice

This week I played poker at my neighbors’—there were three guys there I hadn’t met before, but they quickly introduced themselves as Tony, Jimmy, and Bulldog. They hailed from Revere and Worcester and regaled us with quaint, amusing stories from their childhood, dodging bullets and drive-bys.

“That’s just how it is there. You have to be tough,” Bulldog informed me.

Since my only “brush” with violence was hearing what might have been a gunshot driving down a road near Detroit with my family, I kept my mouth shut. Especially since when we heard the shot, my mom yelled, “Duck!” at my sister and I, and my first response was, “Where?”

They seemed proud of their past, so when I related a story to a friend sitting next to me about my close encounter with death last weekend due to a friend of mine taking me to a restaurant in Dorchester, I didn’t think anything of it. I assumed I wasn’t saying anything they didn’t already know themselves. As usual, I assumed wrong.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Jimmy cut in, interrupting my story. “Don’t dump on Dot! I’ve got buddies there.”

“Dot” is the native’s term of endearment for Dorchester, a city in Boston that has more crime than LA has drunk driving celebrities. There are certain areas of Dorchester that are nice; you just have to dodge bullets to get there. I kid; I kid. You’ll actually be dodging knives. There are way more stabbings than shootings there.

I dropped the subject, realizing it was OK for them to make fun of their towns, but as an outsider, I had to keep quiet and pretend like Dorchester was next on my vacation destination list.

Tony deftly changed the subject, “So did you hear about that moron move the Giants made with trading Shockey? You know what they say about Jersians …”

“… You don’t mess with them,” I smiled. Evilly.

Tony quickly got my gist and we all played in a moment of awkward silence until I finally touched on the one subject and city we could all agree on.

“So how about that Shia LaBeouf, huh? Damn stars driving drunk. You couldn’t pay me to drive in LA …”