March 7th, 2008

Tom Lehrer is Smug

Mr. Spatch takes a walk

Today at 11:00 my boss approached me and said "We drew names to see who could take the rest of the day off and you won. Do you accept?"

I said, "Well, let me think about it."

He said "With pay?"

I said, "I'll be done at 11:30."

I walked to Downtown Crossing and enjoyed a leisurely lunch with Carolyn, which was very nice because we could take our time instead of the usual process of running to get something and then gobbling it down before The Computer gets mad for your spending one or two minutes over your Alotted Amount Of Lunch Time You Rotten Humans How Come You Cannot Process Your Nutrients In Efficient Paste Form. After lunch, I realized that the day was so beautiful that I couldn't possibly waste it simply by going home and taking a nap, so I decided I was going to go on a nice walk instead. Walking is one of the few physical things that I am good at so I figure I better do it as often as possible. I am not good at running and I am a complete and utter hopeless failure at dancing and I am about as flexible as a brick, but I can sure put one foot in front of another and repeat that action over and over.

Usually when walks are planned it is a fun idea to go investigate something. My goal this day was to investigate The House With A Crack In It. This was a building somewhere on Beacon Street which I've noticed while riding the Red Line. It is a five or six-story brick building which, when you're looking at it from the Longfellow Bridge, looks like it's got this humongous spidery crack in the wall. Such an edifice could not possibly exist without people going "Uh, guys, you really gotta fix this" so I didn't really think it was a crack. Nevertheless, I wanted to know exactly what the heck it was and, if it was something interesting, come back some day with the cameraphone and take pictures for you.

This Google Maps route is the approximate route I walked today. I say approximate because Google Maps is for cars and as such, it is definitely a very good driver and obeys all one-way streets. This means it kinda freaked out around the Downtown Crossing area. Just pretend, when you look at the beginning of the walk in the southeast corner, that I walked in a straight line from the South Station mark to the Downtown Crossing station mark and didn't have to do that crazy-ass zig-zagging to obey traffic laws, because I am a pedestrian and thus a sacred cow in this, our fair Walking City. Moo, motherbitches. Hit me while I'm legally crossing a crosswalk and the ears of a hundred personal injury lawyers will suddenly perk up and I will eventually write you a letter from my private island in the Caribbean once I regain the use of my arms.

Actually, while plotting out this walk, I was very amused every time Google Maps pitched a revisionist fit.

"Then I walked down Washington Street to Essex and took Essex towards where it becomes Boylston Street," I said to Google Maps.

"No you didn't," Google Maps insisted. "That section of Essex is one-way and you'd have been going the wrong way up that street. So instead you took Tremont to the intersection where it becomes Boylston Street. Trust me. That is how it is."

"You are full of beans, Google Maps," I said, "so much so that you should change the Os in your cute logo to look like beans. And maybe that lower-case G of yours could be a peanut."

"Whatevs," Google Maps said. "And just for that, you didn't walk down the Charles River Reservation path either."

I did make my way down Back Street and the little dot in the middle of Back Street, near where you cross over to the nice walking and biking paths, is roughly where the House With A Crack In It is. I was slightly disappointed, but not very surprised, to see that the crack is actually a very severe shadow formed by a very thin extension of the wall in a shape that looks normal up close, but from far away looks like a crack. Humph. So much for you, House With A Crack In It, and so much for your aura of mystery. If Jamie and Adam were here, they'd say the myth of you being interesting was just BUSTED.

I enjoyed walking along the Chahls as the day got slightly warmer. There were a fair number of joggers out, and some of the benches have been freshly painted just waiting for the new season, and the nifty monument to Mr. and Mrs. Storrow looked as neat as ever. I still don't understand the purpose of two very small concrete buildings whose entrances are surrounded by a cage of chain link, but I like looking at them. Then I got to Massachusetts Avenue, crossed the Smoot Bridge (Google Maps decided to play along with this last leg of the journey) and into Cambridge.

There is a plaque dedicated to Harry Houdini on the southern end of the bridge, as he performed one of his famous Tie Me Up And Throw Me In The River And I Swear I Won't Drown, Ta-Daaaaa tricks off the bridge (which, if I remember my Houdini stories correctly, was packed with curious onlookers and snarled traffic something fierce. It's not often you see a monument on a bridge commemorating the time when you couldn't cross it.) It's time for Lambda Chi Alpha to repaint the Smoot marks, as the latest color has begun to worn off. While it looks like a case of neglect, it was somewhat nifty because you could see all the different colors the marks have been repainted over the years. After walking 364.4 Smoots (plus one ear) I toddled up Mass. Ave and called it quits at Central Square. I thought that would be a perfect time to take the T home (it was nearing 2:00 at that point) and get some new shoes besides.

I didn't get new shoes. The Payless Shoe Store didn't carry my brand. The second shoe store was a Totally Useless Foot Locker, which had decided long ago to devote most of its retail space to t-shirts and caps and keep a token amount of shoes huddled apprehensively on a table near the front. As luck would have it there was a shoe of My Kind on the table but as luck would not have it, the darn thing was not my size. So I picked it up and approached the one employee in the store.

"Do you have this in size 11?" I asked.

"That's the only one we got," he shrugged.

He probably meant it was representative of the only pair they had in the store (single shoes on display deter theft unless you have need for only one, or you want to take your chances and return when they put the second shoe out on display.) Well, I mean, if the store wanted to sell only one shoe and leave you wondering where to get its mate, it was well within its right to do so. I took the employee for his word, because he was dressed like a referee and we all know referees are always right. Unless instant replay is involved.

Anyway, I got home at 2:30 and promptly napped for four hours. That was the best day ever.