Passage of the Week


This week’s passage consists of a single, particularly spot-on description. The passage comes from Jen Kirkman’s I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, and is near and dear to my heart, as it describes the inhabitants of the city I consider home. Kirkman is probably best known for her work as a stand-up comedian, screenwriter, and actress, but on top of all that, she can put together a damn good – and consistently hilarious – book of essays.

In the middle of an essay about meeting and marrying her (now ex-) husband, Kirkman mentions a discussion the two had about the 2004 Boston Red Sox – the team that referred to themselves as “the Idiots” and that, after nearly a century, broke the Curse of the Bambino and won the World Series. After a brief qualifying statement – “In case you didn’t know because you’ve been living in a vacuum-sealed hut off the coast of New Zealand or are a Goth teenager…” – Kirkman goes on to explain the curse and, more generally, the Red Sox’s place in the lives of Massachusetts residents and Bostonians in particular.

Never before have I come across such an apt description of the peculiar spirit and mentality that Bostonians spend their lives trudging around with. And, as you’ll see, Kirkman’s description also serves as an eloquent and, to my mind, very sound argument as to why – amazing city that we are – we’ve helped produce some of the most talented and hilarious individuals in the arts.

Hopefully, Kirkman’s passage (and her book as a whole, if you go out and read it, which you should) will bring you to a better understanding of the people in your lives from the great state of Massachusetts – or, as us idiots like to call it, the center of the universe.

From I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, by Jen Kirkman (p. 72)

Most people from Massachusetts know a little bit about the ride of Paul Revere but “a lot a bit” about the curse of the Boston Red Sox. It served as a metaphor for all of our lives on an as-needed basis. If something didn’t go right in your life, you could remember that nothing was going right for the Red Sox either. The entire state was cursed. The entire state was an underdog. Sometimes things don’t work out and maybe we’re working against a punishing power higher than ourselves that doesn’t want us to win. That kind of “I’m the piece of shit that the world revolves around” attitude is unique to Massachusetts and I think it’s why so many comedians are from Boston, and why most people in Boston are sarcastic, angry, and wicked drunk.

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