Advise and Resent

Life advice from a costumed reenactor

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By Dan Forward

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ditor’s note: Benjamin Franklin Hancock Washington III is a volunteer freelance writer who answers people’s questions about love and life in his advice column, “Ask a Depressed Former Investment Banker Who Now Has to Work as One of Those Tour Guides Dressed Like a Minuteman Outside Park Street Station,” which appears annually in Spare Change. Here is some of his timely life advice:

Dear Depressed Former Investment Banker Who Now Has to Work as One of Those Tour Guides Dressed Like a Minuteman Outside Park Street Station:
Boston girls are tough nuts to crack! It seems like they can’t hold their attention on one guy for more than one night. Call me old fashioned, but all I’m looking for is a nice lady I can bring home to mom back in good old Gloucester. Where in this wonderful city of ours can I meet the woman of my dreams? —Lonesome on Lansdowne Street

Dear Lonesome:
This costume is really hot, you know? You might think they make it out of a synthetic fiber that just appears to be the dress of a common man, a farmer or a shopkeep, perpetually ready to lay down his life for our liberty at a moment’s notice, but no, it’s the real deal. It smells like Josiah Franklin died in it. And in the winter, it’s freezing. It is appropriate attire for literally one day in late October and one more day in early April, and aside from those it is the worst thing anyone could ever wear. If I even take off the hat, I get fired. I really need this job, bro. I’m so beyond salvaging dignity. I need this like John Adams felt he needed to be legal counsel to Thomas Preston and his regiment of British soldiers who fired into a crowd of Boston protesters on March 5, 1770, an act known today as “the Boston Massacre.”

Dear Depressed Former Investment Banker Who Now Has to Work as One of Those Tour Guides Dressed Like a Minuteman Outside Park Street Station:
I have an empty wallet and a guilty conscience. Whenever I see those people who work for the Red Cross or Children’s International on Tremont Street who are asking for a little bit of my time and a lot of my money, I don’t know what to do. I try crossing the street or avoiding eye contact, but they chase me down. I’m between jobs at the moment and just can’t spend $22 a month to support a child in Africa. How can I tell them politely but firmly that I want to help them, but that I just can’t manage right now? —Destitute in Dorchester

Dear Destitute:
BU. Honors program. Magna cum laude. Majored in international finance. Minored in American History. MBA from Georgetown. Freaking Georgetown! That place is harder to get into than the Saturday Club, Boston’s most exclusive intellectual circle, which met at what is now the Omni Parker House and welcomed into its ranks such local luminaries as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and the inimitable Ralph Waldo Emerson. And now look at me. I’ve given names and backstories to most of the pigeons that roost here. My future was brighter than the dome of the State House, which was not gilded with gold leaf until 1874, 72 years after Paul Revere’s company covered it in copper. And now, I’ve been peed on three different times this week, by a dog, a homeless woman, and a kid from Idaho.

Dear Depressed Former Investment Banker Who Now Has to Work as One of Those Tour Guides Dressed Like a Minuteman Outside Park Street Station:
Hi there. Long-time reader, first-time writer. I live in Allston, about halfway between BC and BU. I’m also 35, and I have a wife, with a child on the way. I wasn’t one to say no to a kegger on a Friday night when I was younger, but I’m settling down now, and I’d like some peace and quiet. The problem is, our neighbors are some very enthusiastic college-aged kids who seem to party seven nights a week. I don’t want to ruin all their fun, but I would like some time off from the ruckus once in a while. Is there any way I could compromise with these young fellows so that we’re all happy?—Concerned on Comm. Ave.

Dear Concerned:
Drunk? You think I’m drunk? You, ma’am, you are the drunk one. What? That’s what I said! I said “Sir”! Yes I did! No, in fact, I do not care if your kids just wanted to walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile walk encompassing 16 sites of historical importance not only to Boston’s heritage, but to that of our entire country, rather than see a desperate man at the end of his rope who just wants a little peace and quiet and to not have to answer your stupid questions all day while pretending to be Ebenezer Munroe, the man who fired the first shot in the Continental Army, which you ingrates all know as “the Shot Heard ‘Round the World.” That wasn’t even in Boston, goddamnit!

Dear Depressed Former Investment Banker Who Now Has to Work as One of Those Tour Guides Dressed Like a Minuteman Outside Park Street Station:
How do you ever find your way around this city? Boston seems to be one of the most confusingly laid-out urban areas in the entire country, and I don’t think the Big Dig helped as much as everyone said it would! I only moved here for my fiancé so I didn’t grow up learning to expect the unexpected. I feel like every time I want to drive somewhere I’m confronted by a “One Way” sign or an on ramp to a road that has no exit. Can you give a new citizen some tips for navigating our lovely yet illogical metropolis?—Bewildered in Beantown

Dear Bewildered:
It is with profound and court-ordered sincerity that I apologize to all of you for what happened earlier. While I always get emotional upon seeing the Old South Meeting House, completed in 1729 and most famous for being the staging point for that pivotal moment in our national identity known as the Boston Tea Party, and from where I can also see the top of the office building in which I used to work and from which I nearly jumped to my death not six months ago, I should not have held all 12 of you at gunpoint with my flintlock musket until one of you agreed to give me a job interview for anywhere beside here, even if there was no gunpowder in the musket.

I’m not like Jerry, you know, who portrays David Kinnison, the last surviving member of the Boston Tea Party, who lived to be 115 years old and who was actually photographed before he died. I don’t do this because I love it, and I don’t have a big fat trust fund to lay my head down on every night, like Jerry does. I’m hurting for cash. I’m hurting bad. Now if you will all follow me this way, I’ll lead you to our last sight for the day, this McDonald’s, established in 1997 A.D., where you’ll learn how to make a perfectly adequate meal out of ketchup packets and the fries that fall behind the condiment stand.

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