Editor’s Note: As we in Cambridge prepare to surrender our streets, sidewalks, bike paths, green spaces, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, pizza shops, coffee shops, liquor stores, drug stores, book stores, and will to live to the students, it’s time for the annual posting of my open letter to their parents. All I ask is that the parents look up briefly from their iPhones to enjoy the impact of their U-Hauls against the pedestrian bridge on Memorial Drive near my home and then read my letter as they await the jaws of life.
fourth fifth year running, here it is.
You don’t know me, but typically I use this space to bitch about food. Inferior hot dog buns, people who blog about cupcakes, stuff like that.
Today, I’d like to take a moment of your time to talk to you parent-to-parent about an important non-food matter.
You see, when I’m not complaining about food, I attempt to parent a college-aged child of my own. I am also a long-time resident of the greater Boston area. So, I understand completely that you are super-pumped that your child is attending a prestigious Boston-area college (or alternately, Boston University). And I know you have a lot on your mind as you prepare to drop your child off in Boston all too soon.
Congratulations. It’s so exciting, almost as if one in the world has experienced a joy as great as yours ever before.
But in reality, 250,000 other parents and students exactly like you are about to descend upon my home like rats on a fresh carcass.
For my survival, and yours, I’d like to offer you a few tips — parent-to-parent:
1. Yes, there certainly IS a lot of traffic here. And you are preventing it from going anywhere. Never stop moving.
2. Right now, you are driving your Volvo station wagon/BMW/Mercedes the wrong way down a one way street in Cambridge. I can guaran-fucking-tee it.
3. Those people do indeed look different and are speaking funny languages. Your child is perfectly safe nonetheless.
4. Under no circumstances utter the phrase “pahk ya cahhhh in hahhhvaaad yaaad” until you have returned home. You will be murdered on the spot and everyone in Harvard Yard will watch and cheer.
5. Please throw away all the clothes you were planning to wear while in Boston and buy new ones. Mom, that means those cute new capri pants with matching visor and enormous white sneakers go straight in the trash. Dad, EVERYTHING you own must be burned. Your child will thank you and it will save you from being robbed and beaten.
6. If you child is attending MIT, remind them to bring plenty of shorts to wear when the temperature dips below zero. We may have another record snowfall, so don’t forget the flip flops.
7. If your child is attending Harvard, remind them that cars are also allowed to use the streets in Cambridge. (Even though the cars didn’t get a 2400 on their SATs, nor did they receive a nice shiny community service award for visiting poor people in Central America, they are still actually entitled to use the roads.) Gently suggest that your little wonder try walking the sidewalk, but don’t get your hopes up. I’m not.
8. Could you try again to get your kid to understand that IN CITIES PEOPLE WALK ON SIDEWALKS AND NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET? It is really annoying. (Note: if your kid goes to BU, they are intellectually incapable of understanding complex concepts like this. But take consolation in the fact that they are attractive and well-dressed.)
9. The honking stops approximately 2 seconds before your beating by tire irons begins. Never stop moving.
10. Go home as soon as possible. It’s better for everyone that way. Especially me.
With these few simple tips, you should make it through this difficult transition period for me.
And rest assured that you will forget every one of these tips when you return again in June as you happily drive your Volvo station wagon/BMW/Mercedes straight at me the wrong way on DeWolfe Street.
Again, congratulations to you all!