Day Two: When the Piper Declines Your Debit Card…
The sunlight slicing through the window brought with it the promise of a fresh start. After a tragic end to day one, my stomach was lilting port side and I needed to take great care in the way I proceeded in the ways of food and drink. While Hope prepared for the day, I made the dangerous trip across Commonwealth Avenue to Bruegger’s Bagels and purchased breakfast sandwiches, coffee and a Diet Coke to get us started. I chose to eat a plain bagel, blank and nearly tasteless, my first attempt at a wise decision after so many questionable ones the day before. The hours ahead of us were full and I refused to be an anchor on our fun.
My biggest concern was dinner. Although twelve hours away, we had reservations at a special, high-end sushi restaurant and had been looking forward to this meal for weeks. If I needed to sacrifice the entire day to prepare myself to partake, then that was what would happen. With this mindset we met Kyle and Shannon in the lobby at 11 a.m. and began walking to find a lunch spot. We didn’t have to travel far. Eastern Standard was close to the hotel, offered outside seating and was minutes from serving their lunch menu so we opted to dine there. Although we sat outside to enjoy another blue sky and moderate temperatures, a glimpse inside of Eastern Standard reminded me of a French Brasserie, decorated with dark wood, brass and red lamp shades; a return visit at night was a possibility. There were several interesting and unusual dishes ordered including bruschetta with steak tartare, fried seafood hushpuppies and fish roe on toast but I settled on two glasses of bitters and soda and took the group’s word for how great the food tasted. Everyone enjoyed their choices (as well as the shared bites from each other’s plates) and I walked away a little stronger as my stomach began the slow shift toward its natural state. I latched on to a little confidence thinking my sacrificial plan had a chance at success, reluctantly accepting that I deserved the pain of missing out on fish roe.
We walked to Fenway Park to buy tickets for a tour of the baseball stadium. This was something I had requested we do and everyone went along, some more reluctantly than others. We are not prone to participate in tourist activities when we travel together but I could not pass up this opportunity; my affection for baseball and history were too strong. Since it was another beautiful day and, since the next tour did not start for an hour, we walked around the corner and bought beers at The Boston Beer Works on Brookline Avenue. The establishment was industrial and functional, prepared to cram as many Red Sox fans as fire code allowed before, during and after home games, but today we had the place to ourselves. When we walked in we were hit with a strong, acrid aroma of burnt vegetables which the bartender explained was the seasonal pumpkin beer brewing. He assured us it tasted much better than it smelled which, on second sniff, wasn’t totally off putting, just not remotely similar to the smell of pumpkin unless by pumpkin we are referring to an old jack-o-lantern lit on fire. Naturally, my brother ordered a pumpkin beer to see if the bartender was lying. We all tasted it and were surprised how mild it was in liquid form. The pint glass had a sugar and cinnamon mixture sprinkled around the rim, probably as a fall back measure. I refrained from licking around the edges of the glass; Hope did not. I gingerly re-entered the culinary fray by ordering a Sam Adams Octoberfest while Shannon ordered a blueberry beer complete with whole blueberries floating in it. Hope seemed satisfied after licking Kyle’s pumpkin beer glass so she did not order anything. We shared our drinks with each other, enjoyed the moment and then took our tour of Fenway.
The weather held up, clear and sunny, and a wiry old man straight out of central casting led our tour. If Boston was a person, our tour guide was his grandpa. He was entertaining and clearly loved his job, keeping a constant chatter sharing stories and history nuggets, all spoken through a hand-held PA. With the Red Sox out of town, we were able to visit the home team dugout and walk along the edge of the field. As a baseball fan, I was standing on hallowed ground and I was grateful the others in our party allowed me the time to experience it. More importantly, with each passing hour, my stomach was gaining confidence and inner balance seemed in reach. I was nowhere near 100 percent but at least I could discern an upward trend.