To: Marty Walsh
From: The City of Boston
Re: Our relationship
The past few days have been a lot of fun. I think it’s obvious by now that I really like you, and you seem to like me, too. But . . . I see you left your toothbrush in my bathroom this morning, so I’m thinking this might be a good time to tell you what I want from this relationship. I’m sorry if this seems self-centered. I guess they don’t call me the Hub for nothing.
We’re both adults, Marty. You’re 46, I’m 383. I’d like to think we’ve reached a stage in life when we can tell it like it is, so let me just say it: I don’t see this as a long-term thing.
As you’ve known since our first date, I’m just getting out of a serious relationship. Twenty years is a really long time. Tommy, my soon-to-be-ex, was great to me. Sometimes I didn’t understand him — as in, he’d talk and I’d have no idea what he was saying — but he was an excellent provider. He knew every inch of me. And he was quite the handyman, just lived to fix things. No job was too small.
But it wasn’t all roses and ribbon-cuttings. He had a bit of a vengeful streak. If you were one of his people, he’d do anything for you. If not, well, you were nobody. He was possessive, too. He always made it clear I was his city, and nobody else’s. Woe betide anybody who so much as flirted with me — let alone tried to win me away. Also, though he always made sure I looked pretty, I was never quite sure of where we were headed.
Still, I loved him. Since we’re being honest, I still do. But when he told me he was moving on, I was OK with it. It was time — for both of us.
You guys are similar in a lot of ways. You’re both likeable, average-guy-type guys. Neither of you is the sort to pore over Governing magazine, or to rush back from Paris or Amsterdam with inspiring new ideas to sweep me off my feet. You’re both endearingly humble — amazed and grateful that somebody as gorgeous and storied as I would choose to be with a plain-talking son of the neighborhood such as yourself. Although I will say this: Your friends are younger and cooler than his.
Obviously, I think you’re great. Most of me — 52 percent, to be precise — doesn’t want to be with anybody else right now. True, the other 48 percent had a thing for John Connolly, but that didn’t go anywhere. When I said I wanted you on Tuesday, I meant it.
But I’m not looking for another 20-year thing. For as long as I can remember, I’ve gone from one really long relationship to the next. In the ’40s, I even stuck by a man I knew was a crook. (As my “friend” New York could tell you, I have self-esteem issues.) Stay with somebody too long and you get too comfortable, maybe even a little lazy. You stop meeting new people. And heaven knows, it’s hard to keep things fresh and exciting after 20 years.
Besides, I’m curious about what it might be like to be with somebody completely different. I don’t need to remind you I’m majority-minority these days. Is it so unreasonable to want someone who looks more like me? Say, someone like your good friend John Barros? And yes, maybe I’d like to see what it’s like to be with a woman, too. It’s true I’ve never tried it before. But this is 2013, and I’m a 21st-century city.
So here’s what I can offer you right now. I’m all yours for four years. And if those years are truly breathtaking, I’ll give you another four. But please, don’t ask me for any more. I’m done with forevers.
I don’t want to hurt you, Marty, but there’s no way to put this delicately.
You’re my rebound mayor.