Don#039;t do that: A local#039;s guide to Boston

by Beacon Staff • September 16, 2009

Steeped in historical significance-like that one time the harbor was steeped in tea-Boston is one of America's most interesting cities, for tourists and seasoned residents alike. But Emerson's colorful pamphlets and brochures won't tell one key thing: What not to do. The Beacon has compiled a list of faux-pas to avoid during your down time:

The Swan Boats. A time-honored tradition,

these fake-feathered dinghies "take flight" through the water a few hundred times a day. Featured in children's books like Robert McCloskey's "Make Way for Ducklings," the attraction is the heart of the Public Gardens, romanticized by many, despised by some curmudgeonly locals. Forget the boats-experience the real Public Garden with a picnic blanket and a book instead, perhaps pointing and laughing

as the tourists float by your post, their feet wet, their pockets at least $3 lighter.

Allston parties. The frat houses are a myth. It will take 45 minutes to get there and the stop-and-go Green Line will make you wish you pre-gamed for Emerson's fictitious "football team" instead of from the recycled Poland Spring bottle in your purse. Indeed, it is a rite of passage to attend basement parties during your freshman year. What says fun more than packing yourself into a can of sweaty sardines in your best "little black dress" along with 50 other people you'll never actually meet? The fishy-friendships you made last Friday are, simply, flops.

Don't take the T from campus to South Station, even if you have a rolling duffel. You're better off walking, and really: How lazy can you possibly be?

Bova's Bakery. For those of us under 21, Boston closes at 11 p.m. No bar will take your fake. They know better, and Limelight Stage and Studios karaoke will make an announcement over the mic announcing that it's past your bedtime. And now, left out on the street with little to no dignity, your only option is to take part in the Emerson tradition of walking around late at night.

Bova's Bakery is a favorite North End destination simply because it is open 24-hours and because a cannoli doesn't require an ID. But later doesn't mean better in the world of baked goods. Most of the cookies were probably made two shifts ago, and even shrink wrap can't stop the hands of time. During daylight hours, try Modern Pastry-they fill their cannolis fresh to order. In the meantime, watch a movie, and, if you're feeling inspired, hit up one of the Colonial's common rooms-they have ovens.

Don't stiff street musicians. That could be you someday. They make the city a more interesting place and provide us with sweet tunes all over the city.

Boston Duck Tours. If you've been hiding in your dorm room for days, and your only method of seeing Boston's "sights" is on an amphibious bill-shaped boat, you are not ready to live in a city. Take a walk on your unwebbed human feet and look around: You will see everything that the tour guide points out and more, minus the excruciatingly family-friendly commentary. And if you plan on being here for longer than a week, unlike most people who pay money to sit in a boat and quack on command, you're going to have to experience

Boston sometime. Suck it up, stroll past the discarded trash and triumphant trees, and accept both as part of the city you live in.

Avoid the Green Line before or after a Red Sox game. Think smelly people who will be highly unpleasant if the Red Sox lose. Look ahead and plan an alternate route.

Don't board a subway car until the people inside have a chance to get out. If we have to explain why, save us the headache:

Don't take the T. No one wants to deal with you.

When friends and family visit, do not risk a parking meter violation. Meter maids hover relentlessly. It is a boring job and they will ticket you. Park instead at Riverside Station and take the T.

Don't stop when a person wearing a green, loosely-fitting vest waves a clipboard and asks you to save the whales. Yes, whales are nice, but these twenty-somethings only want your money, and being polite will not make you any richer. Tell them you are already a member and visit Emerson's Student Service Learning Center if you enjoy philanthropy-your time is worth more than the 500 emails from non-profit X, Y or Z.

Don't go to Emerson's Fitness Center immediately before and after class times-it packed with hot and steamy students. Get up early and sign up for the machine of your choice before the only elliptical left is the weird one on the end that probably dates back to the Reagan Administration.

Don't muss up the dining hall's salad and ice cream topping bars with rogue sprinkles. No, your mom isn't watching you, but your fellow students are, and if you spill the croutons into the ranch dressing, their vengeance will be swift.

Don't travel to Southie alone if you are not familiar with the area. Bring a buddy and know where you are going. Southie culture can be summarized by The Departed and any St. Patrick's Day celebration. On every street corner there is a bar most likely filled with intoxicated locals playing Keno. The Irish roots of Southie are certainly something to experience, but perhaps with a friend if you haven't learned the ropes just yet.

Stop sunbathing on Boston Common. There is no beach here and though Emerson is often referred to as "Campus on the Common," this is not your backyard. The Frog Pond is close by and the children don't need to see that.

Don't, with your other slow-walking friends, form a human barrier whereby people who want to walk at a normal clip have to resort to the street to get by. Can't you feel the daggers in the back of your head?

Don't jaywalk unless there's a clearing in traffic. The red hand means don't walk, you ninny. You can wait here on the cozy sidewalk with everyone who is following the social contract.