Columns, Opinion

MAOUYO: A bad bushel

I just have no idea why it almost without fail rains on weekends. Sure, we get a shower here or there during the week, which is definitely somewhat of a drag, but I don’t remember a weekend without at least one rainy day or night in the past month. If I could have a Friday to Monday period that doesn’t involve umbrellas, rain jackets or the back tire of my bike spraying water all over my back and butt, I would literally give to charity. Like an old sweater to Goodwill, or something. Really, I would love it.

It was on one of these rainy weekends a few weeks ago that I found myself making my semi-habitual mistake of going to Newbury Street with my friend Cameron. Semi-habitual because I love new clothes and new shoes and new things. Total mistake financially. But somehow I manage to stay out of trouble and stay fresh to death (which was, incidentally, the name of the stylish gang in my high school. FTD all day, baby!)

I also erred in wearing a velvet blazer in the rain and not having a big enough umbrella. (I’ll probably never buy a big enough umbrella because I’ll lose it like I lose every umbrella ‘- don’t lend me your umbrella.) Looking back on it now, the entire outset and planning of this trip was a complete failure. Whoops! I’m looking to get out of the rain, and Cameron suggests we go to a cigar bar and wait it out. He wants a cigar; I want to be dry. So this works.

Walking into this cigar place, I realized that this was the same place I went on my 18th birthday and was treated with an amount of respect with which you might regard a rodent. A rodent that pops out of your cereal box when you’re just trying to eat some breakfast. Sure, I was some baby-faced kid, but it seemed strange that I wouldn’t be gladly welcomed into the folds of Tobacco America. Apprehension reigned supreme, and yet, I continued forth.

Sitting down, I realized why I didn’t exactly feel welcome when I wanted to buy a cigar on my birthday. I had then, and had just again, intruded upon the den of the WASPy (the acronym, not the insect) male New England Aristocrat.

The New England Aristocrat is a special breed of a genus I feel that we’re all familiar with ‘-‘ the well-to-do WASP. You might even be one! (Don’t worry, I don’t hate you, which could be hard to believe after the next 400 words or so.) Anyway, you might know of other types: the southern variety has a drawl, the mid-Atlantic variety is actually kind of a crapshoot in defining, the New York-breed probably lives in Connecticut. Our focus, the New England variety, loves the Boston Red Sox a little too much.

The den of this specific species differs only slightly from any other breed in that there will always be a Boston College football game or Red Sox game playing on every TV in the vicinity. Other than that, imagine the District Attorney Fred Thompson’s office in ‘Law & Order,’ only minus the books. Wooden molding, leather couches and chairs, a bar with an attractive bartender for the subject of our study to tip well, and pretty much no other women, like it’s an unspoken agreement. This is a place where a guy can get away to match up his affluence with similar men and moan about his wife and his stocks, not necessarily in that order.

Naturally, hilarity ensues. Not the gregarious, let’s-make-a-scene comedy that we all enjoy to some extent (I hate to admit it, but I will watch Andy Samberg do ANYTHING in song), but the can-you-believe-we’re-hearing-this comedy that has to stay tongue-in-cheek.

It was everything I could have hoped for, or imagined. Never in my life did I really believe that men would sit around with the good old boys and joke about how much money their wives spend, talk about playing golf and staying in hotels with golf professionals, and discussing the pros and cons of luxury vehicles, yachts and planes. I guess I always thought that was a scene that involved a movie/TV script, a sauna, some awkward old-man nudity and anyone but me. I literally heard a man say, ‘I let my wife take care of the jewelry stores, but I take care of the refineries,’ or something of that ilk.

And then I realized that I had stopped laughing at these guys, and started chuckling with them. I wanted to jaw corporate finance and private jets, smoke cigars and drink scotch, gripe about a woman spending my money and generally fraternize/ compete with a bunch of gentlemen who had moments earlier repulsed me. The moment was fleeting, but it made me realize how incredibly easy it is for an environment to change us. How often have you seen a freshman, some nice kid, be completely corrupted (a term I’ll hesitate to define) in college? It’s more than peer pressure ‘-‘ it’s the society, the culture with which we surround ourselves that should be more carefully considered. Sure, there are plenty of great environments, but if one bad apple can ruin a bushel, how can one good apple re-ripen a bushel, fix the basket carrying them, and replant the original orchard?

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