For the bulk of the years of growing up that I actually remember, what I would consider the “formative” years, I lived in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Not to be confused with the super irritating Brookline, New Hampshire that would show up in school closing announcements only to leave me extra disappointed.) During and after college I didn’t think much of my high school years at Brookline High School. And in fact, I ended up losing touch with every friend I made there. But thanks to the internets I have reconnected with many of them, some very recently. It’s been super positive, and it’s stirred up all these great memories of my time in Brookline. That’s what this song is about. These three incidents in particular:
- My friend Pete works in Kenmore Square in the building next to the one with the Citgo sign. He summons me. I comply immediately. We climb up to his roof and scramble to the adjacent roof. (They were attached so it’s not that impressive.) We climb up inside the Citgo sign, we can see into Fenway Park (Cool!), and I shut it off. This is the most hoodlumy thing I have ever done. We immediately bolt. I am later admonished by my friend Ethan. He tells me I should go back and turn it on. I do not comply.
- My friends, Roee, Pete, Ethan, Amy, and others spend an inordinate amount of time in Pete’s basement doing what kids do in basements. We also drive around a lot in Roee’s used Mercedes. When it’s late, and we’re starving, we head to the open-all-night falafel truck in the hospital district in Brookline. I order shishkabab and hummus every time. I try to use the lingo the staff uses to order and I am soundly rebuffed. I am convinced this is a political statement by the Lebanese dude taking my order. I enjoy the Shishkabab Hummus despite our political differences.
- My friend Roee works in Brooks Drugs in Coolidge Corner. He tries to get off work early so he can go to a party he is hosting at his house while his parents are out of town. Cliche? Yes. His boss won’t let him go. Roee says he’s going on break never to return. That night at the party, 300 kids show up. Things have gotten out of control. We call the cops on our own party before the house is completely destroyed. We beg the cops not to say who called them. We were already nerds in high school. If the cops had told who made the call, it would have been our death sentence.
For years after leaving Brookline I would always think of it fondly. And when I went back, I would try to analyze the place and understand specifically what it was I missed about it as if I could somehow make a list, add those things to my new home, and no longer feel homesick. Of course, that’s silly. It’s just where I grew up. So, that’s the space it will always occupy.
Thanks to Kira (fellow Brookline-ite, though I didn’t meet her until after high school) for feedback through the production process.
Anyone from Brookline, I hope you enjoy this. And, oh yeah, fuck Newton!
BTW — here are some additional Brookline stories that were candidates but didn’t make it into the song (names hidden to protect the guilty):
- Friend works in video store in Coolidge Corner. Puts on borderline pornographic movie on main monitors in the store. Customer walks in with kid. Freaks out. Friend is fired.
- About to perform with my band in the school talent show. Head to the bathroom. Look over to the end stall and see two pairs of legs. One male standing, one female kneeling (facing male). Takes me months to figure out was actually happening. I was what they generously called a “late-bloomer”.
- Friend and I are sent by friend’s parents to buy groceries for the house. Friend and I enter into a state before going shopping that leads to us spend hours at the supermarket and buying $400 worth of groceries. This was hard to do in 1986. No Wholefoods.
- I show up late to my own SAT. (Not a dream.) I have forgotten my ID. The typing teacher who is administering the test doesn’t recognize me starts quizzing me to establish my identity. Having never been to homeroom, I honestly do not actually know the name of my homeroom teacher. My fellow students laugh. They only eventually vouch for me. I am eventually allowed to take the test.
- I audition for the school musical. The British drama teacher makes fun of me for shaking my leg while I sing comparing me to Elvis. My fellow students laugh. I play the sergeant in the Pirates of Penzance.
- I am about to get beaten up by a “point kid”. I am heading to grab my backpack and a quick thinking friend grabs me and tells me the kid is not worth it and I should not take the knife out of my backpack. The point kid is convinced I was about to pull a knife on him and takes off. I am amazed at how quick thinking my friend is.
- Some white kid that we interact with once-in-awhile utters the following statement: “Hey… I know karate. I hang out with Chinese kids.” I shit you not.
- My favorite english teacher is leaning over a desk. I congratulate her on being pregnant. She is not. This is the last time I ever do this.
- Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science lived in a mansion in Brookline. The mansion is now owned by the church. It has a gorgeous pool. We sneak in there to swim. We are chased off by the caretaker who lives on the grounds.
- My friend is housesitting for some family. We all hang out at this tiny house and do countless inappropriate and illicit things in the house while they are gone. it is like our own private crackhouse without the crack.
- On my way to a friends house, who I visit regularly, I always pass a particular house. For some reason, 4 out of 5 times I pass this house, there are scraps of porn littering the lawn. This goes on for months. I have no idea why. (I often pause to examine said porn.)
- On the last day of school, I am mugged by two dudes who don’t go to our school. The cops catch them. At the trial, they wear the exact same clothes they wore on the day of the mugging. I think they thought that was part of the requirement for the trial. This makes them even easier to identify. They are not smart. The public defender tries to get me to admit that it might not be my walkman. I am forced to admit in court and on the record that the cassette in it was a custom tape I ripped from a live Billy Joel concert VHS tape and therefore could not be someone else’s. My musical taste is exposed as way uncool, but I get back my walkman and my $8. The two dudes go to jail.
- We’re all driving around aimlessly in Brookline. We pull up behind a cop. My friend who’s driving honks at the cop. Seriously. Honks at the cop. The cop gets out. Gives us a hard time. Eventually lets us go. My friend is a dope.
- I work at Star Market as a bag boy. I am desperate to be a cashier. They won’t do it. Eventually they put me in the bake shop. I give gourmet chocolate chunk cookies to cute girls at super discounted prices. I keep up the practice despite the fact that it is never effective in getting me a date. I am not yet “results-oriented”.
- I eventually get an earring and am told by Star Market management that I need to take it out at work or I will be fired. I quit my job at Star Market. I get a job making more money at a state government office downtown. Nobody cares about my earring because they are all busy calling in “sick” on Fridays during the summer so they can “recuperate” at the beach over a long weekend.
- During my senior year I date a freshman. She is sophomore age, but the damage is done. I’m a senior dating a freshman. I don’t care. At least I have a girlfriend.
That’s probably enough.