Summer School

How to have a hot time in the city

By Gabe Durán


was describing some of my humor columns (yes, “columns,” not “blog posts”) to my friend Sara. “There was this one about a burrito, and then I talked about a fight that happened on my street, and also about how I hate sports.” She looked thoughtful for a moment, did a quick check of her phone to see if anyone had called to rescue her from having lunch with me, and then said slowly, “So your blogs aren’t really funny, huh?”

I didn’t know how to respond to this, except to immortalize, in writing, what a hurtful thing that was to say. Somehow, “No, they are funny” didn’t seem forceful enough. And anyway, what if she was right? Why didn’t anyone else tell me this? Well, no more forced humor, faithful reader(s). I am going to put my efforts to better use from now on.

It is now arguably summertime in Boston, though climate change will probably make it winter again by the time you finish reading this piece of creative nonfiction. With longer, brighter days comes the nagging feeling that you should probably make something of your time. Having been forced to do things in Boston for my entire life, I am overflowing with suggestions. If you’re lucky, you are unemployed so that you have the time you’ll need to do all of these things.


Go to the Boston Harbor Islands. Georges Island and its accompanying land masses are hot right now. They’re very pretty and very inexpensive. Explore nature or fly a kite next to the old fort. Don’t want to buy your own kite? Fashion one out of string and stray bits of plastic like my pal Eric did once. Better yet, don’t be like Eric in any way, but suggest that whoever you’re accompanying try this, and then bask in the sun while watching him run back and forth pulling trying to get trash to fly.


For aspiring humor writers: Write your comic treatises outside on the Common or in the Public Garden or anywhere along the Emerald Necklace. Not only will you be among the sculpted beauty of one of Frederick Law Olmsted’s best landscape masterpieces, you will also see lots of people who doing things that will annoy you to your very soul, inspiring you to alchemize your effortless misanthropy into scripted hilarity.


Go to a bar with a roof deck, like Daedalus in Harvard Square. There’s something about the mix of the summer air warm with false memories of halcyon youth accompanied by cool alcoholic refreshment and languorous conversation about how oppressively boring baseball is in the first 99 percent of the season that makes you want to jump off a building anyway, so why not be efficient about it?


Go to Revere Beach. Sometimes I get the feeling that my faith in humanity is growing back. To solve this problem, I take the Blue Line to Revere Beach. And sometimes I worry that I have too much money. Going to Kelly’s across the street to buy a sandwich for $20 is an easy fix for this. Sure, you could go to Wingaersheek or Crane or Singing Beach, some of the most picturesque and quintessentially New England summer spots, but-no, you know what? Maybe you should just go to one of those.


Sail on the Charles River. As a white person, I obviously know how to sail. But even if you are not white, or for some reason had the misfortune of not growing up on the North Shore, which has an economy driven almost entirely by summer sailing programs, I guarantee that you could still sail the Chuck. If there was a sailing video game, the famed Boston waterway would be the training level that you play before the first level to learn how to use the controls. It’s the calmest water in existence, but maneuvering on it still looks impressive to that special someone you take out with you. Just don’t get all heroic if you capsize. She might be a pretty young thing, but it’s every man for himself out there.


Join an Ultimate Frisbee league. No, I’m kidding. Please don’t do this.


Attend Shakespeare on the Common. The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company is putting on Love’s Labour’s Lost. Don’t blame me if it’s bad. I’m just throwing out ideas here. A few years ago they had Carver from The Wire doing Othello!


Watch a non-Red Sox baseball game. I almost don’t want to admit the inspiration for this one. Okay, I happened upon a Brookline-Shrewsbury Little League game (go Knights!) and stayed to watch the whole thing. I think we can all agree that exchanging money for a chance to watch a baseball game is as absurd a concept as voluntarily attending a function at which you are expected to dance, but there is something charming about sitting down on a patch of grass to watch two teams compete on a field with sunbathers in deep right and a pick-up rugby match in shallow left, and where you have to shag foul balls that come your way. Just don’t bring too many friends, and don’t go alone, because both of those things are creepy.


Take a vacation. I hear Chicago is lovely this time of year.

Another time I was with Sara she told her friends that I write a blog. “A ‘humor’ blog,” she added, using very mean and unnecessary air quotes to emphasize her point. Even so, I thank her for giving me the idea for this installment. If any of you want more tips for how to have the most fun in the sun in the city this summer, just knock on my door. I’ll be in my room.