Copy of Scott ProutyLast year on May 17th I went to work behind the bar — made the usual drinks, chatted with customers, earned some tips and went home satisfied that I’d done my job.  That same evening, another Boston-born bartender had a somewhat more productive shift.

Remember the election last year, with a secretly-recorded Mitt Romney video going viral just before November’s presidential vote?

The video was made by unknown person/persons while Mitt was speaking at a private $50,000-a-plate fundraiser.  Many experts claim the release of this clip may have swayed the election, completely turned it around.

Who was behind the camera?  Who made the secret recording?

Scott Prouty finally ended this mystery when he was interviewed on The Ed Show” (MSNBC) last Wednesday night.  Turns out the bartender done it.  And he’s from Boston.

Most of you have already seen this part of the video — the part that went viral — it was played and replayed on every news outlet.  Everyone was talking about the “47% video.”

But it wasn’t the “47%” part that bothered Scott Prouty the most.  A blue collar guy and a bartender, Mr. Prouty was more interested in Romney’s attitude toward everyday workers.

From the full video — listen to the heightened tone in Romney’s voice as he describes the working conditions in China.  He was looking into the purchase of a factory in China, and he’s almost salivating as he talks about the cheap labor available there.

Romney’s company, Bain Capital, ended up buying that factory.  They couldn’t resist all those young girls working so hard, and being paid so little.  (For living quarters, twelve girls crammed into every room, with ten rooms to a section — and in each section — all 120 young girls share one small bathroom at the end of the hall?)

What about that “huge” fence . . . the tall fence surrounding the factory, with barb-wire strung along the top, and armed snipers in guard towers above?  That was to keep people out?  Be serious . . .

No matter, Bain Capital was interested in cheap labor.  Slave labor, child labor . . . that doesn’t seem to concern international business companies, as long as they achieve their bottom line and make lots of money.

This is what bothered Scott Prouty, and he made that clear during Wednesday’s interview.

“This was the clip (referring to the China part) that motivated you to go public?” interviewer Ed Schultz asks.

“100%”, Mr. Prouty replied.

Was he worried about the consequences, what retaliation he might face from releasing the video?

“These were the most influential, the most powerful people in America,” Mr. Prouty recalls, “I had to ask myself . . . do I want to put myself out there?“

But according to Scott, as he debated for weeks what to do, he walked into the bathroom one night and looked into the mirror.  Out of his mouth, without thinking, the words “You coward” came out.

The rest is presidential history.

“Today Mitt Romney lost the election,” (; the day after the video was released.)

“Bartender put Romney’s campaign on the rocks,” (a CNN headline following Wednesday’s interview.)

The fact that a presidential contest was influenced by something a bartender overheard was not lost on MSNBC interviewer Ed Schultz.  Here’s some of what he had to say about the irony:

“Bartender’s are in the service and hospitality industry . . . but they are also some of the best ‘arm-chair’ psychologists you can find.”

“Bartenders are some of the best ‘people-readers’ on the face of the earth.  They can tell if someone’s in a good mood, a jerk, the worst guy in the place . . . one of the nicest people in the world you’ve ever met.  You know how it is . . . they interact with everyone.”

“People confide in bartenders.  They tell bartenders things they might not tell anybody else.”

“What I’m saying is that the bartender sees it all.  The bartender knows people . . . and in a way, you know it’s kind of perfect that the guy who secretly recorded Mitt Romney was in this industry . . . was a bartender.”

On May 17th of last year, I guess you could say bartender Scott Prouty put in a pretty good shift’s work.

Back next with a more typical post . . . more bar stories.

(To view the entire video, click on part one and part two.)

Posted in Life on a Cocktail Napkin | 6 Comments

DROPPING THE BALL (Restaurant fuck-ups)

We’ve all seen it.  At a crucial moment in the game — when everything is on the line — some key player makes a horrible mistake.

(Bill Buckner’s legendary error costs the Boston Red Sox the 1986 World Series title as he allows the ball to go between his legs.  Go to the 00:56 second mark — and weep.)

This happens in our business, too.  Bars and restaurants see really good players, as well as the bad ones, make serious errors they’d like to take back.  Here are three of them I’m remembering today.

“Oh the humanity . . . ”

Let me be frank, Jeanne was a big girl.  She was around 5’ 5”, and must have weighed 225-250 lbs.  And she was loud.  It was as though she had decided not to be intimidated by anyone . . . so everything she did was exaggerated and in-your-face loud.

When she said — “Why do I have to do the roll-ups?” — you could hear her from one end of the restaurant all the way to the bar at Johnny D’s.

She wasn’t a bad kid, and although her loudness could be irritating I don’t want give the impression that I’m picking on her.  (I’ll relate one of my own embarrassing moments below.)  It’s just that something happened to her one night that was pretty amazing, a little frightening, sad  . . . and yet somehow funny, all at the same time.

Jeanne was in the kitchen getting ready to take food out to her customers.  She must have layered 8 – 10 plates of hot food on a large tray that night.  She was carrying it on her shoulder, using the other hand to hold the edge of the tray.

Nobody but Jeanne would have stacked so many plates on a single tray at one time.

One her way to the platform dining area, she successfully negotiated the two steps up . . . but then she seemed to pause on the platform carpet.  She began to sway a bit, first a little to the left, then to the right.

The large tray on her shoulder began to sway with her.

She took two quick steps to the right to keep her shoulder under the tray, then two quick steps to the left as the tray swung the other way.

Back and forth that tray swung, and Jeanne was taking quick little steps, a little dance beneath the moving tray.  

The tray swung to the left . . . back to the right again.  We watched in horror from the bar.  Everyone on the platform began to watch.  She was losing control.

The tray swung too far!  Suddenly Jeanne’s feet came out from under her — and for a moment that tray seemed to be suspended in the air.  But then it followed her down . . .

Jeanne landed with her arms and legs bouncing a little.  Her entire large body seemed to bounce up and down, so it looked like something in slow motion.  The plates and silverware clattered all around her like debris falling from the sky.

John B. and I were watching the spectacular fall from behind the bar — and recalling the Hindenburg incident, he solemnly announced,  “ . . . Oh the humanity!”

(“Oh the humanity . . . ,” John said as Jeanne hit the carpet.  The line from the Hindenburg video is at the 00:42 second mark.)

I’m sorry, I don’t mean to appear thoughtless or cruel.  Fortunately Jeanne jumped right back up unharmed, but she must have been terribly embarrassed.  Anyway, it’s not nice to laugh.

But I  couldn’t help it . . . at the bar, John’s wisecrack had me biting a knuckle to keep from cracking-up out loud.


Bright lights, big FUBAR . . .

Steve wasn’t a bad manager, really . . . just a little inexperienced when it involved working in the trenches.

He had the right attitude and a good heart when he came up with a new plan to help the wait staff.

At Johnny D’s on a busy night the customers sometimes can’t spot their waitperson . . . there’s just too many people in the crowd.

Steve wanted something to easily identify them.  Something to immediately let customers know that this person could get them drinks.

I don’t know if this is the same tray, and for all I know this particular brand might actually work.  Ours didn’t.

I don’t know if this is the same tray, and for all I know this particular brand might actually work. Ours didn’t.

His solution was a wait staff tray rimmed with small, flashing lights.  I guess he figured that no matter how packed the club, no matter how short the wait person — with those flashing lights on their trays they could be spotted at once.

Of course, the trays were very expensive.

They came as a package that had to be assembled.  Included in the package was a handle that was to be attached under the tray.  It was supposed to make it easier carrying large rounds.

The handles didn’t really work well, and soon all the wait people were taking them off, after spilling too many rounds of drinks.

But the biggest problem was something that the manufacturers apparently hadn’t thought of . . .

The strings of lights circling each tray . . . the small, colored flashing lights . . . those lights weren’t waterproof.

That’s right.  If some beer should spill off the top of a pint glass, or a drink was knocked over onto the tray (or God forbid if the tray was washed) . . . the LED lights simply shorted out.

And once they shorted out, they never worked again.

One by one, tray after tray began to quietly blink out in the middle of the crowd.  Maybe when a server’s lights went out, customers thought that person was simply going off duty.  (Like at a cab stand . . . “Nope their lights are out, we’ll have to wait for someone else!”)

Steve left the club shortly after that, although not just because of the winked-out trays.


My own fuck-up . . .  (I’ve told this story here before, but that was almost three years ago, so I hope you don’t mind me repeating it.)

I was new in town, and The Sunflower Café was my first job in the Boston area.

Having done my time at the service bar upstairs, this was my first shift in the basement club.  It was Christmas Eve; none of the other bartenders wanted to work.

There was a manager on duty somewhere, but I didn’t see him all night.  I was alone behind the bar, and feeling a little nervous.

The evening started with my only two customers somehow getting into an argument that escalated into a table-toppling fist fight.  Later a woman broke down and began to sob uncontrollably halfway through her drink.

More people wandered in and as the place got crowded, a waiter we knew from a nearby restaurant got really hammered and began loudly yelling a surprising, and most intimate confession.

“I’m gay,” he shouted as he stood up on the rungs of his barstool, “I’m gay . . . I’m gay!  And I don’t care who knows it!”

Finally I managed to quiet him down, but the worst part of the night was yet to come.

Around ten o’clock, some guy stumbled down the stairs and wove his way to where I was standing behind the bar.

I’ll a and tonic,” he managed to stutter.

I looked at him. He was a mess. He was an average-sized guy, twenty-five or so, with thinning hair. His glasses were tilted on his nose and his hands kept jerking as he tried to order the drink.

G..g..g..gin and . . . Te..Te..Te . . .” .

I stopped him before he could repeat his request.

“Not tonight,” I told him. “I think that’s it for tonight. Come back another day.”

He looked at me.

He adjusted the glasses on his nose.

I’ve g…g…got,” he said.

I’ve g…g…got . . . Pa…al .. palsy!” he managed to stammer.  His hands were jerking in front of his face as he spoke.

I felt the eyes of everyone at the bar bearing down on me.

I could hear them all thinking:  “That poor man . . . he has cerebral palsy, and now the bartender is calling everyone’s attention to it!  Rather than just serve him . . . and it’s Christmas Eve!”

I felt like such a jerk.

“I’m sorry,” I told the man.

“I’m sorry,” I said again as I set down his drink, “I really am.  This one’s on the house.”

Apparently, although the man really did have cerebral palsy, he was also falling down drunk.

Halfway through that first drink, he tumbled off the bar stool and lay helpless on the floor, unable to get up.

He’d probably been shut off someplace else before stumbling in here.

Now the manager of The Sunflower Café suddenly appeared.  As we carried the man up the stairs to a cab, the manager kept glaring at me as if to say:  “What the Hell were you thinking?  How could you serve someone that’s so trashed?”

Dropping a tray full of food, serving a drunk who has cerebral palsy . . . if you play the game long enough these things will happen.  Sometimes you gotta laugh, even when the joke’s on you.  See you all next week.

Posted in Life on a Cocktail Napkin | 13 Comments


Faneuil Hall Marketplace after revitalization.  (Photo by Gary Burke.)

Faneuil Hall Marketplace after revitalization. (Photo by Gary Burke.)

This post may be a little disjointed, but right now I’m thinking about one of the best jobs I’ve ever had — at Friends & Company, in Boston’s Faneuil Hall.

Today I want to tell you about the owner, Pam Carson, who took it in her mind to open a restaurant  . . .  even though she had no restaurant experience.  (Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn’t it?)

There’s a hundred good stories from that time, as Pam struggled with her new business; this is just one of them  . . . an hysterical incident arising from a good, if uninformed heart.

But first, here’s the back story — how Pam got started — something that still amazes me.

So you want to own a restaurant . . .

Pam Carson already ran a very successful antiques outlet called The Boston Flea Market.  Once a year she rented the entire Hynes Convention Center for a three-day crafts exposition.  Pam’s annual “Christmas Crafts and Antiques Show” featured thousands of vendors, and drew over one hundred thousand visitors yearly, each purchasing a ticket as they walked through the turnstiles.

(What did it cost just to rent out the Hynes for three consecutive days and nights?  Pam Carson was no stranger to big-risk ventures.)

Somehow in her business dealings, Pam learned about a revitalization plan for Boston’s Faneuil Hall district — and that’s where she decided she should open a restaurant.

Copy of Old bulidings TwoBack then Faneuil Hall was a run-down collection of dilapidated buildings on Boston’s waterfront, and few people could have imagined that in a short time the rows of boarded-up warehouses would become one of America’s top tourist destinations.

One of those who couldn’t imagine it was the owner of the small, empty building Pam wanted to rent.

Pam rented two floors and the basement of a vacant property for something like ten times less than that space would be worth a few years later.  She got an iron-clad, ten-year eighty-page lease, with an option to extend.  She was looking ahead — big-time.

Pam hired architects, a construction company and restaurant equipment companies to help transform her new empty space . . . and then she hired Jerry Gilbert, a highly-respected and long-time fixture in Boston restaurant management scene.  (After Jerry left Friends & Company, he became president of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association.)

A little over a year later, the result was a brand spanking new two-level, two hundred-seat restaurant and bar with offices on the top floor.  She’d built herself a restaurant from scratch.


The learning curve . . .

Pam had never worked in a restaurant . . . never been a manager,  or served as a waitress or bus person.  She’d never gone to school to learn, and in fact prior to thinking about opening her own place, she really hadn’t spent much time in restaurants.

So what did she do about that now she was an owner?

She asked at lot of questions.

I’d taken over as general manager after Jerry Gilbert left (I’d been the assistant manager/bar manager a year earlier.)  Now every day when Pam and I sat down for a working lunch, we’d order food . . . and then she’d start.

“I’m going to pick your brains,” she’d say with a smile.

“What do you think about trying this?” she’d ask about some new idea.

“How can we eliminate the dead time between lunch and the night business?”

“What should we do to get our drinks out faster?”

Pam picked the chef’s brains, the floor manager’s brains, even the wait staff and bartenders were solicited.  Then she’d make her decisions based on what she’d managed to pull out of everyone.

Between all her ideas, and what she learned from others, Pam put together a one-of-a-kind place.

(One of the most interesting things about Friends & Company was that everything in the restaurant was for sale.

All the unmatching tables and chairs, the odd collection of booths, the variety of old lamps that lit the place . . . all the antique posters and memorabilia that decorated the walls . . . everything had a small price sticker on it somewhere.

Pam had furnished and decorated both restaurant levels with stuff from her Boston Flea Market.  People would meet for a first date at Friends & Company . . . then come back a few months or a year later to buy the table they’d met at.  People would have a great time at the bar, and at the end of the night take home some of the memorabilia that had been hanging on the walls.  Now back to the story . . . )

In the end, Friends & Company would serve over 600 people during busy lunches . . . turning every seat over three times each . . . and then there was the bar business, as Faneuil Hall became one of Boston’s hottest nightspot attractions.

Cover of Boston Magazine

Cover of Boston Magazine

Pam’s new place won so many awards that she didn’t want to put all the plaques up because she thought it detracted from her décor:  “Boston’s Best Hamburger,” “Boston’s Best Omelets,” “Boston’s Best Blender Drinks,” “Boston’s Best Juke Box,” “Best Restaurant Décor,”  . . . I honestly can’t remember them all.


But what about the problem of learning as you go (this is the funny part) . . .

It certainly wasn’t all beer and trophies for Pam at Friends & Company . . . along the way there were (quite) a few bumps in the road.

As smart as she was (maybe the quickest learner I’ve ever seen), there were bound to be gaps in her knowledge.

For Pam, it was a problem simply understanding her staff.  She really had no idea what their lives were like, or where they were coming from.

I remember one early meeting just before the lunch rush — a meeting to discuss recent policy changes — Pam offered a new idea.

“I’ve been thinking,” she told the gathered bartenders and wait staff, “That you all come in just a minute or two before your shift starts.”

“A lot of you seem stressed and rushed, and that might not be the best way to make sure our customers get great service.”

“So . . . ,” she continued, “I’m wondering if we might not all show up a little early. Maybe I’ll have donuts, and coffee, and juice set out . . . and we can all chill out a little, relax, and get focused on the business ahead.”

“Maybe we could do some group meditation to become more centered,” she said.

Copy of meditationCome in a little earlier?  So we can all meditate before a shift????

Maybe only those who’ve worked in restaurants can appreciate the staff’s reaction.

Everyone sat there dumfounded.  Some of them had their mouths open, their jaws dropped.  There was a stunned silence . . .

Having never lived the life, Pam had no idea how a day begins for servers.  She couldn’t imagine being that hung-over and burnt-out, struggling just to make it to work a few minutes late.  She didn’t know that some of them used every little trick in the book just to show up showered, and in clean clothes.

I felt my own jaw drop.  (“She didn’t tell me she was going to say this!”)  It was like something from another planet — meditate together before work?  We’re talking about daytime bartenders and wait staff . . .

Fortunately, Tony the chef saved the day.

“Well, I could see coming in a little early,” he said with a big grin, “ . . . If we were going to play some basketball . . . some hoops!!!”  Tony was a tall black guy who lived for basketball, always playing on the streets, always talking about the sport.

Everyone burst out laughing.  I’m sure some of them thought it was hysterical, and some probably just laughed because he’d broken a dead silence.

I used the disruption to quickly scrawl a note to Pam, then turned the pad toward her.

“Let’s talk before you push this . . . ,” the note read.

Pam glanced at it, and when everyone stopped laughing at the chef’s comment she said, “Well,  get back to me with your ideas.  See if any of you can match Tony.”  Then she smiled and continued with the meeting.

Later in the office when we talked it over, the idea was dropped.  Now Pam just made sure that she always greeted the staff with a good-morning smile and lots of  encouragement . . . no more talk of pre-shift meditation, or being centered.

Anyway, even with no prior experience Pam Carson was still one of the sharpest owners I’ve worked for . . . but I guess there are some things you only learn from having been in the trenches.

(There’s a new feature in the right sidebar . . . Cocktail Napkin Haiku.  For the real deal on restaurant haiku, I’d recommend checking out Brittney’s blog — Same Food For Every Day.  See you next week.)

Posted in Life on a Cocktail Napkin | 9 Comments


Copy of BrittneyTwoA server I know from Davis Square (Somerville, MA), recently started a blog featuring restaurant haiku.  English language haiku is typically only three lines and is meant to capture a single moment, or feeling.  Here’s a description from WikiHow“When you see or notice something that makes you want to say to others, ‘Hey, look at that,’ that experience may well be suitable for a haiku.”

Haiku-style seems perfect for bar blogs — it’s in line with today’s shorter Twitter-like communication.  (“Easily digestible, aren’t they?” this server said when I raved about her posts.)

If you want the real deal, I suggest visiting her site . . . but here are few of my own in the general style.


A bartender’s life . . .

Finished with work, tired and burnt-out,
searching through the frig for something to eat.
So you have a beer.


If you’re going to behave like a little girl, where’s your . . .

You are a restaurant worm, talking
behind everyone’s back.  PssstPsssst.
Where’s your little skirt?


You know your life is different when . . .

Hit the snooze button twice — then
struggle to sit upright, bare feet on the floor.
Trying to get to work by 6:00 PM.


I’m tempted.  I’m flattered.  But . . .

I don’t know what scares me more
than the thought of another relationship
with someone who’s a little crazy.


Not even one more . . .

I could serve you another drink, but
then I’d lie down tonight, close my eyes
and I’d still see you sitting at my bar.


Will this shift ever end . . . ?

Making martinis, margaritas, the maple honey badgers.
Pouring the draft beer, the glasses of red and white wine.
How really good would any of them taste right now?


An older couple at the bar.   Tell yourself it’s none of your concern . . .

Back and forth under their breaths,
they continue to throw at each other
cupfuls of acid.


Service industry blues, thinking this is a tough way to make a living . . .

Busy night, customers swarm the bar.
So many are taking little bites
like ants crawling up your arm.

(This is not how I feel about bartending — for that see here, or here.  This is just a quick snapshot of a feeling I had once, when in a terrible mood, and every little thing a customer asked for seemed like a giant imposition.)


Running late . . .

Socks and underwear in a tub of soapy water in the sink.
Dry them in the microwave oven,
or on the car radiator as you drive to work.

(The radiator trick is from Caveman, Tales from a Bar.  The microwave method is my own.  Back next week with a more typical post.)

Posted in Life on a Cocktail Napkin | 9 Comments


The crowd at the Pat's first victory parade.

The crowd at the Pat’s first victory parade.

There was no Super Bowl parade for the New England Patriots this week.  (First, you have to get into the big game, and then win it — that means not dropping key passes during crucial playoff drives.)

But I’m thinking back to a better year now — back to the Pat’s first title win, and the celebration that followed.  That was a parade shared with my best friend, Colleen, and it involved a fur coat, a daring escape from the maddening crowds, and finally, a lost trophy.

The Fur Coat . . .

I was working behind the bar the night of Super Bowl XXXVI, stuck in Boston while Colleen was off in Connecticut.

She’d driven from New Hampshire to join others at the home of her friend Tom — and it sounded like a hell of a party.  On Friday night they all went into NYC’s Little Italy for dinner at Tom’s favorite Italian Restaurant.  On Saturday they were off to the Mohegan Sun Casino to try their luck at the tables, and then on Sunday they settled into Tom’s plush residence to watch the game.

“It wasn’t quite a mason,” Colleen later described Tom’s home, “But it was close.”  On two acres of land in the most expensive section of town, Tom’s home had a downstairs sauna, an outdoor whirlpool, and a large game room with a huge, big-screen TV.

There was a pool table in the game room which was in constant use, as well as pinball machines, two large arcade machines, and a full bar with Tom making drinks behind it.

While Tom and his daughter, and eight or nine of his close friends were watching the Super Bowl, the doorbell rang.

“It’s the dog,” Tom said, “He’s ready to come in.”

None of the guests believed him, so Tom took a few of them to the front door to see.  Through the windows they watched as the dog waited for Tom to let him inside.

Zeus — Tom’s friendly German shepherd — sat there wagging his tail.

The dog looked quizzically at the closed door, then at the people watching him through the windows, then at the door again.  The dog began barking while looking at the people in the windows.  He was probably thinking, “Hey, I rang the bell . . . what’s the problem here?”

Finally he stood up on hind legs — bracing himself steady with his left front paw on the front door.  Still standing upright, he used his right front paw to impatiently ring the doorbell . . . once . . . twice . . . three times, slapping it with his right front paw each time.

Then Tom let Zeus in, with everyone laughing and patting his head and back.

Anyway, the thing I want you to remember about this party is that all Tom’s friend were “high-rollers”, so Colleen took only good clothes to the gathering.

Now back to the game . . .

The Patriot’s were 14 points underdogs, but near the end of the game with seven seconds left, they were tied 17 -17 with St. Louis — and a 48-yard field goal could win the Super Bowl for them!

Copy of vinatieri_ap-01As the ball rose from it’s tee, with the clock showing 00:00 time remaining, and I was behind the bar shouting — “Yes! . . . Yesss! . . .  YESSSSSS!!!!” — as the football sailed on, and finally split the uprights.

“We won!” Colleen was shouting over the phone when she called me at the club, “We won!”  I could barely hear her.  With the cheering from Tom’s house in one ear, and the noise of the celebration in our nightclub behind me, it took several minues for each sentence to be repeated.

I asked Colleen when she’d be driving back, and it turned out that she’d be passing through Boston on her way home to New Hampshire . . . on the day before the victory parade.

“Why don’t you stop here, and we’ll see the parade together,” I shouted over the phone.

“What?” she shouted back.

The following day I reserved Colleen one of those bread-and-breakfast places in downtown Boston.

Copy of fox coatWhen I came back the next morning to pick her up for the parade . . . she was wearing a mink coat!

(Ed. note 2/23:  Colleen is back from her FLA vacation and the first thing she did was correct me.  It was her fox fur coat she had on that day, not one of her minks. To me, they’re all “mink coats.”)

She was about to head out into over one million people crowding the streets.  People would be spilling beer from their plastic cups, splashing ketchup and mustard from their hot dogs, perhaps some of them drooling . . . and she was wearing a mink coat.

“This is all I brought with me to Connecticut,” she explained.  (Of course — I hadn’t thought of that — for a party at Tom’s she would have only taken good clothes.)

Colleen on the balcony of that Bed-and-Breakfast.

Colleen on the balcony of that bed-and-breakfast.

“Well, I’ll just go like this then,” she said taking off the mink.  Now she stood there wearing just a white sweater and slacks.

This was in February.  It was brutally cold outside, freezing.  There was no time to head to my place to get her something else to wear, and she wouldn’t take my coat.

So we left the B & B, and stopped at a discount clothing store on the way to the parade.  I bought her a short ski-type jacket, nothing fancy, but warm, cute and it only cost $39.99.

“It’s a good bop-around coat,” she said, trying it on in the mirror.  (She still has it today.)

Then we headed back out onto the streets, where it was insane.


Escaping the masses . . .

For blocks and blocks, there was nothing but people.  People were shoulder-to-shoulder, touching butt-to-front . . . everyone crammed together as tightly as an over-packed elevator.

We wanted to be at Government Center, where Bill Belichick and the players would address the crowd, so we worked our way along the sidewalk toward the nearest “T” station to catch a subway.

We were literally inching our way through the crowd.

Inside the train station, layer after layer of people waited ahead of us.  After a trolley car finally picked up the first layer, everyone shuffled forward a couple of inches and another layer of people crowded in from the turnstiles behind us.

We were only two trolley stops from where we wanted to be — maybe a ten minute walk above ground — but there were too many people up there to walk anywhere.

We were stuck.  It looked like this would take us forever.

Then we heard someone in the crowd shout out, “Follow me!”

There was a man working his way along the narrow open space against the back wall.  “Follow me!” he was shouting, “Follow me!”

He was only ten feet away . . . so I grabbed Colleen’s hand, and we followed him.

Just like that . . . we didn’t know who he was, or where he was leading us . . . but we followed him.

The guy opened a door at the end of the wall; the sign on the door read:  “DO NOT ENTER!”

By now other people were joining the line behind us.  “Where are we going?” someone way back yelled.

“I have no idea!” I shouted over my shoulder, “Maybe the guy knows a shortcut!”

This is something close to what it looked like.

This is something close to what it looked like.

The door led down into a narrow tunnel lit only by those dim bulbs in their small metal cages.  They were strung along the wall in a connecting line as we lopped along.

“Follow me!” the guy kept shouting.  His voice echoed back through the dark, winding tunnel.

It was like something from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

“Followww meeee!!!”

Maybe five minutes later, we came to some stairs leading up.  When we exited a door, we were at the Park Street stop.  We must have walked underground beneath the Boston Commons.


The Lost Trophy . . .

We finally made it to Government Center where there were an estimated 1.4 million people in the area with us.

“There are more people standing in these couple of blocks than every man, woman and child in New Hampshire,” I told Colleen, referring to her adapted state,  “ . . . And that includes all the cows living there, too.”

She punched me on the arm.

It was oppressive.  By now we were at the bend in Cambridge Street, a long way from the balcony where the players were.  Girlfriends were sitting on top of their boyfriend’s shoulders to get a better view.  Guys had climbed up the poles and were dangling from the street lights to get a better view.

I looked behind us . . . less than fifteen feet away, on the other side of the street where we were standing . . . there was a bar.

Copy of Copy of Government Center

The crowd gathered at Government Center. The bar is circled . . . it was only a few feet behind where we were standing on the street.












“Come on!” I said, dragging Colleen with me.

We got inside just in time . . . we squeezed by as the doorman was telling everyone that they’d hit capacity, and no one else would be admitted.

Inside, we were warm and toasty.  We could still look out the windows . . . in fact, we had relatively the same view that we’d had outside, but now we could hear what the players were saying from the broadcast on the large screen TV’s.

Perhaps more importantly . . . now we were in a bar!

Someone was just leaving and we lucked out with a seat for Colleen at the bar.  All around us people were cheering and celebrating.

I was drinking beer, but as the Patriot players continued to take turns at the microphone, Colleen said, “Order a martini next time.”

“I want to steal two of these glasses,” she said.

I protested at first — I work in this business, I didn’t want to be a jerk — but then Colleen called the bartender over.

Copy of Martini glass“You wouldn’t mind if we took these glasses with us, would you?” she smiled at him, “These will be my trophies.”

He looked at Colleen’s tasteful white sweater.  He looked at the growing pile of money on the bar in front of us, accumulating as a tip.  He looked at Colleen smiling at him.

“Naw,” he said, “No one’s going to notice something like that today.”

So I ordered an extra-dry Bombay martini.

As we left, I threw down another twenty on top of the tips already on the bar, and we took the now-empty glasses with us.

We walked down Tremont Street, headed back towards the subway station.  As we crossed a side street, right before you get to the Omni Parker-House Hotel . . . I hit a patch of black ice.

Seriously, I wasn’t drunk . . . a little buzzed maybe, definitely not drunk.  But now as we finished crossing the street, and I stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the hotel — I hit a patch of black ice.

Suddenly both of my feet went up in the air . . . they went up so fast I didn’t quite know what was going on.  Suddenly I was up in the air, stretched out like a plank of wood, parallel to the sidewalk.  And I was coming down fast.


I’d gone from walking upright to flat-on-my-back, with no break in between.

People were walking by, trying not to look at me lying there on the sidewalk.  Colleen couldn’t stop laughing.

“Sorry,” she said, “I don’t mean to laugh . . . but that was so funny!”

“Are you OK?” she asked.

I was fine, but I had been carrying one of those stolen martini glasses in my coat pocket (she had the other one in her purse.)  When I pulled it out now, it was in two separate pieces . . . the base/stem, and the V-shaped goblet part.

“Don’t worry about it,” Colleen said, as we continued to walk toward the train station, “I’ve got one . . . that’s good enough.”

I knew she was disappointed; she’d wanted a pair of them.  She was trying to make me feel better.

But at least she still has that one “trophy,” now hidden in the back of her glass cabinet.  It was one hell of a Super Bowl parade.

(Ed. Note:  I’m sitting here typing in a dark apartment lit only by the glow of the laptop, as I try to get this posted before my battery runs down and the place becomes completely pitch black.  We’re in the middle of a blizzard in Boston . . . one of the worst Nor’easters in New England history.  Three feet of snow, freezing temperatures, the wind gusts hitting 60 miles per hour, and power outages that include my street.  And where is Colleen . . . ?

She happens to be in sunny Florida.  She’s down there for three weeks at her parent’s winter home to celebrate her father’s eighty-sixth birthday — I told her not to mention the weather when I call, but so far she’s done just the opposite.)

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