Usually this column doles out indispensable advice on living in Somerville, and this week is no different. Seriously, if I were to rank the advice today on a scale from one (funny, but not important) to 10 (funny, but helpful), it would land somewhere in the nines. For new readers to this column, that’s extremely high.
Now that the hype is out of the way, let’s get down to business. If you are going to be venturing out into the world of Somerville and plan to interact with any of its denizens, you absolutely, crucially, indisputably must know what happened during that ‘last game.’
Let me explain: the key to any good conversation is a good preface of small talk. Anywhere else in this country you can get by with some facts about the weather or traffic, but not here! In Somerville you need to know about what happened in the most recent local sports game. Whether it’s the Pats, B’s, Sox or Celts (sorry Revs, no cultural hegemony) you have to at least know the highlights of the most recent game to have a chance at connecting on any level. To not know about local sports in Somerville is tantamount to trying to ride the T without a Charlie Card.
Now, I know what you are thinking: “I thought Somerville was a bastion of progressive thought! Why would something so base as sports be the fulcrum of local conversation?” To some extent, you are right; not everyone loves sports. But everyone speaks the language of sports. In New England, sports are basically local news that you can throw out an insane opinion on and actually have an audience. For that reason, they are a pretty great jumping-off point. Here is an example from my actual life:
(Setting: Townie Tim sits down to get a haircut)
Barber: You see the Pats last night?
Townie Tim: Yeah, Tom’s looking old.
Barber: Aren’t we all these days?
Townie Tim: Speak for yourself.
(Everyone in barbershop: raucous laughter)
You see what happened there? In those few seconds, we became friends. No joke, he’s getting married this fall and I’m totally invited! The key is that most folks around here (myself included) associate knowledge of local sports with caring about the community. It can seem shallow, but remember, it’s just a starting point.
Now, a key distinction I want to make is that you do not have to be a fan of the local teams. More than likely, you grew up outside of Boston and from that fact alone you probably harbor some animosity for the perennial contenders here in New England. The good news is that arguing about sports is always better than agreeing about sports. Just make sure you know what happened during that ‘last game’ and you are good to go.