mánudagur, maí 08, 2006


Last Friday, E and I were (the only ones in Iceland) celebrating Cinco de Mayo ("Gleðilega hátið!") at the new Red Chili place downtown, a place with a good just-inside-the-781-beltway vibe, and a hell of a lot better food than the shamed and now closed Mama's Tacos nearby, when toward the end of the meal we heard the lilt of what I thought was a North Shore accent, something like "Oh my gawd! Are you American?" The lady with the accent was questioning Frank, the manager of Red Chili, who is indeed from Brooklyn.

So I went over. The woman perched on the barstool turned out to have grown up in Roslindale, so all my Saugus-Danvers-Beverly suspicions were off-base. "And where'ah you from?" she asked. When I said Billerica, her B-cap wearing friend at the next stool said she was, too. And smiles broke out all around. Class of '86, BMHS. And a cheerleader to boot. They were with two other women, one of them from Tewksbury, and had just gotten into town that morning for a weekend in Reykjavík. They were exhibiting the enthused delirium of many a first-day Iceland visitor.

So E and I stayed and chatted for a long while, advising them them on tourist sights (thumbs-up on Adventure Golden Circle with snowmobile twist, thumbs-down on Bláa lonið) but the conversation kept turning back to Billerica. The East Billerica fire station was mentioned, as was the old red CCD house in the center. And Almy's, of course. Also Lums, site of many a Billerica kid's dreams of an occasional meal out. Thanksgiving Day games against Chelmsford made their appearance as did the Shahkstah, Dr. Sharkey. And a mutual appreciation of the "street smahts" that the Billerica Public Schools had bestowed on us.

It was a great happy conversation. Afterward, I came out into the street and heard a passing "er það ekki?" and had no idea where I was.


Blogger EnuhCorK said...

Great post...but I wonder how many other readers of The Iceland Report would agree.

I typed that last part because it's hard for peeps to understand the attachment we have to that town...sometimes I don't understand it myself.

Maybe everyone has fond memories of their hometown...unfortunately for them, we are more vocal about it...

What were some of the street smaaaaaahts that were discussed at the restaurant?

Blogger JB said...

Well this post was for my Billerica homies. Sorry, other Iceland Report readers not "fohtunate" enough to have grown up in this humble Mecca.

As for "street smahts", well, basically nobody's gonna fool you if you came through the Billerica school system. Billerica teaches a healthy (sometimes bordering on unhealthy) cynicism.

Anyway it warmed my heart to randomly run into someone else from the Brix in a bar a stone's throw from the Icelandic parliament. Somehow it brought everything full circle.

Now I gotta go watch a gawkahblockah.

Blogger carmen said...

What! Isn't the Billerica area internationally known? I'm shacked up with a guy from "Chumsfud" and am no longer surprised when conversations about that area turn up in the most unexpected places.

Anyway, you might like to know that the first time I said the name of your town aloud, I called it "bill-ER-i-ca." (Come on! That's what it says!)

Blogger JB said...

Billerica residents are used to their town's name being mangled by those "out of the know". In fact, that's how we know whether or not someone is trying to sell us something.


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