Jan. 26, 2013
"T" for "Twilight Zone?"
by Lynn Holmgren
It is late afternoon on a frigid Saturday in January, but the Rosebud Bar & Grill has no windows to remind me of that. I couldn’t think of a better place to leave what remains of daylight at the door and defrost over a pint or hot toddy while listening to people tell stories. Some drove here, and others walked, but most have arrived via Boston’s public transportation system - familiarly referred to as the "T."
|"On the T" tellers!|
The slam’s theme of “On the T” is ubiquitous – can anyone live a week in Boston and not have a T story? Every public transportation system is embedded with its own unwritten code of ethics, manners, style, and stereotypes and I was curious to hear if others experienced the same T I did.
Massmouth emcees Paula Junn and Katie Liesener welcomed the crowd to Rosebud, and Dan Dahari broke the ice with his sacrificial tale of T terror that involved a free Green Day concert, tripping on mushrooms, and a dragon.
Now if the suspiciously stained T-seat did not previously give you pause, the stories of this afternoon might certainly require one to reflect further on its origins and then remain far, far away. For Dan would not be the only one admitting to unleashing unwarranted bodily fluids while riding public transportation. Fellow tellers Theresa and Lisa F also exposed drunken mishaps on public transportation, much to the delight of the audience. Lisa told her story of getting drunk for the first time at age 26 and throwing up in her boyfriend’s messenger bag, “under the bay,” on San Francisco’s version of the T (“BART”). Theresa was "on the level" of the inebriated Boston Bruins’ fan-base when she found out how impossible it is to hold a full drunken bladder to the end of the Green Line.
H.R. Britton and Laura Effron took listeners off of the subway and onto the bus, where they respectively encountered the angriest person in Boston and the horniest person in Chile. H.R. found himself forced to defend his “teacher” voice when he told passengers on the packed 34 bus to please move to the back. Meanwhile, Laura found herself bonding with the man who inappropriately touched her on a bus in Chile after they determined that 1) she was not a man and 2) they both identified as homosexuals.
Chance encounters with the general un-muzzled and crazy public continued to be a popular topic for stories, as Mo Lotman and Jason Rabin (Audience Choice) shared their misadventures in MBTA riding. Mo found himself riding North, spending a day in ‘romantic’ Rockport with a stranger who increasingly appeared to be a paranoid-schizophrenic. Jason paid homage to modern technological devices, praising the fact that they allowed him to politely ignore people like the crazy “Cadillac” man he met one day on the T; a man who couldn’t understand why anyone would drive anything else.
Ellen Robertson shared her story of rare friendship on the Red Line with a bird lady who turned out to be the daughter of Alfred North Whitehead. First-place winner Michael Anderson’s story also began on the Red Line, which he referred to as a “political walking tour.” His brilliant answer to a son testing his limits in a packed car was to serve him a strong dose of embarrassment by strangers, as they all sang “Happy Birthday” to the mortified youngster.
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Photos courtesy of Molly Hartigan
Molly Hartigan Photography
A lifelong eavesdropper, Lynn Holmgren relishes massmouth story slams because no one need pretend otherwise. Lynn lives in Dorchester, where she eats short stories and writes bananas. She is currently a student in the MFA Creative Writing program at UMass Boston.