Sometimes, falling in love requires a little help from a rather large bag, the desire to try perfectly acceptable and not very earth-shattering coffee from the region's largest chain of coffee shops, the second tallest building in the city, and a rather incredulous employee who works on the observation deck at the second largest building in the city.
Leslie had come to Boston for the first time ever, and as the person who wrote "Boston?" on her Facebook status when she had asked for trip ideas a few weeks previously, I'd undertaken the role as her tour guide, host, and general Boy Friday for her stay. Let's just say I was looking forward to this, no matter how many times we ended up taking the elevator to the Top of the Prudential. I did have some anxiety about being a tour guide, given as most my time in the city these days is spent touring record stores or just kind of staring at people near subway stations. I mean, I'm sure Leslie would have loved looking for rare Art Pepper albums and bartering cigarettes with homeless people as much as I do, but I figured we should hit some of the more traditional tourist spots before going that route. Maybe something with a lobster or a tri-corner hat or two.
So we had got up early, and before we even made it into the city we had breakfast. With grilled English muffins. And I had never seen someone so amazed and joyous at the sight and taste of a buttered, grilled bread product. My heart began to melt a little right then. Like the butter on the English muffin. Was also a reminder that I should get my cholesterol checked soon.
Old State House. Boston Massacre that may or may not have been an actual "massacre." Subways. Clam Chowder. MMMMMM... clam chowder was even more magical than grilled English muffins, if you can believe that. I mean, I imagine it might be. I'm not a clam chowder guy. But most reasonable people seem to enjoy it more than English muffins.
Along the way, we walked. We took the subway. At some point, we had to cross a street. I held Leslie's hand as we crossed. For safety reasons only, of course. Eventually, the sidewalks themselves must have become more unsafe, and we were holding hands more than we weren't holding hands. There was no discussion, it just happened. A hand held here, arm around back there, head on the shoulder on the train.
As we continued our tour of touristy type things Boston tourists should tour, we made our way to the Prudential Center. At the top, we saw all the wonderful sites of the city, and Leslie was suitably amazed, and I was suitably amazed that seeing things through such wonderful, pure eyes could increase my appreciation for things I might have taken for granted.
We took the elevator down and walked down Boylston Street, and it being Boston, and Leslie having never been to a Dunkin Donuts, we made our way to the nearest Dunkin Donuts. And it being Boston, the nearest Dunkin Donuts was all of 97 steps away. In pretty much any direction we chose. I promised Leslie that the coffee there would be perfectly adequate and not awful, as it is at every one of the other 2,039 Dunkin Donuts in Massachusetts. We went it, warmed up, because the temperature was hovering near a chilly 60 degrees, which is apparently a temperature which is considered chilly when you are from California by way of Colombia.
Leslie orders the coffee and begins fishing through her enormous bag for her wallet. I assume she must have her wallet in the bag, because the thing is the size of a hockey equipment bag, is bursting at the seams, and have no idea what else could be in it besides her wallet. At the register. No wallet. Submerges head to bottom of the bag. No wallet. I pay for coffees, we go to table and take next 10 minutes unpacking bag. Find complete works of Shakespeare en Espanol. No wallet. Find forgotten souvenirs from Leslie's last vacation to Chicago sometime earlier in the century. No wallet. Damn, we figure Leslie must have left her wallet at the Prudential, which luckily is the last stop we made.
I spring into action. And by springing into action, I really mean looking up the telephone number for the Top of the Pru on my phone. This heroic action takes all of 13 seconds. Still, I am a dashing man of action. Next step, call the number I found with my advanced investigatory skills of yelling "Top of Pru!!!" into my phone while standing outside on Boylston Street.
Honestly, I have little faith that anyone will actually pick up the phone when I call. After all, what kind of questions would people typically be calling about?
"Are you open?"
"Where are you located?"
"See that really tall building in the middle of the city? Top of it."
But by some stroke of tourist luck, someone picks up the phone on one of the first rings. Maybe the people who work at the Top of the Pru get bored spending every day not taking things for granted.
I explain to the woman who answers the phone that my friend and I had just been on the observation deck and that my friend believes she left her wallet there.
She asks me for the color of the wallet.
I poke my head back into the Dunkin Donuts and ask Leslie for the color of her wallet. She tells me it is beige. I tell the woman on the phone it is beige.
"Excuse me?" I answer.
"Beige and it's a wallet. It has money and cards and things in it. She has her license in it with a little picture of her on it. Do you actually have the wallet? Or any wallets?"
"Oh, okay.... yes."
"Yes, you have that wallet or you just have wallets in general?"
After a few more minutes, I make the assumption that the wallet is most likely there, although the woman never actually made a 100 percent confirmation on that. We walk back to the Pru, holding hands, Leslie being overly thankful that I am the hero who is bold enough and quick enough to find a phone number and make a phone call. We cross the street holding hands. We walk to the elevator holding hands. We go to the top of the Pru for the second time within the past 30 minutes.
We go to the woman selling tickets, and I immediately recognize her voice as the woman I talked to on the phone. I explain to her that I just called and my friend thinks she left her wallet here and by the time I got off the phone I was pretty sure, yet not actually 100 percent positive, that the wallet was here.
"What color was the wallet?" she asks.
"Ummm, still beige," says Leslie.
"It has a clasp! It's a wallet! It has a little picture of me in it!"
Amazingly enough, they do in fact have the wallet. Apparently the wonder of not taking everything for granted every day gets boring enough that the only other fun for the employees is to devise increasingly complex quizzes for people who have left their possessions behind.
We take the elevator down one more time, holding hands, holding hands as we walk back out into the city, the beautiful city. And maybe it wasn't the bravest or most impressive way to be a hero, but it meant something that I was there, and it meant something to me to be there for someone.