Life in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte
(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville Times belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville Times, its staff or publishers)
Originally published September 13, 2008.
I love Somerville. Why do I love Somerville? There are tons of reasons. One reason is that I know where most of the streets are. I also know a lot of short cuts, especially during rush hour. Here are a few more reasons:
You run into people you know everywhere you go! Up at Old Orchard Beach I hear, “Hey Jimmy, what’s up?” I actually saw a guy who grew up on my street at Disney World about 15 years ago. If you are from Somerville, I’m sure it happens to you too.
My kids say, “Dad, you know everyone!” I love Somerville because my sons and I were at a 1 p.m. showing of The Dark Knight a while back at the Somerville Theater, when I saw some familiar faces. Sitting about four rows in front of us were Vinnie and Howie. For about a half hour before the movie started, we caught up on things. Important stuff like, “Have you seen Jackie Veri lately?” and “How’s your father doing?” and “Too bad about Joe…” and “Hey, are you still driving the Lincoln?” We weren’t talking real loud, but loud enough. Okay, we were bordering on yelling. In the row in front of us was this guy named Ryan who was born on my street and recently moved back into the family house. He’s 34 and I remember him as a kid.
Funny thing about us old Somerville people, we don’t care where we are or who is around, if we see an old friend, we catch up right there on the spot. We may be loud, but we are sincere. We are genuinely happy to see one another. We are also pretty good at avoiding someone we don’t want to talk to. Spending most of your life in one city can create a lot of friends, but also some people you would rather avoid. Not so for these two old friends. A couple of weeks ago I ran into two guys in Teele Square and we talked for 30 minutes. I am always especially happy to see some of my old partying buddies, for the mere fact that we are still kicking. Just the fact that we survived this long is an accomplishment considering the craziness of the 70’s and 80’s.
I love Somerville because when another lifelong Somerville friend calls and asks if you can do him a favor, you say yes before asking what the favor is. I came home Friday and found a container of lawn furniture cleaner by my front door that my cousin picked up for me from the Christmas Tree Shop. Thanks, Carol!
This past Sunday afternoon I was up at Powder House Park with my dog, and there were two couples with infants, a group of picnickers who rode their bikes there and several other sun worshipers laying out. I just looked around and felt very grateful that we have such a beautiful park that people can enjoy on a picture perfect day in peace.
As I become an “older” Somerville resident, remembering names gets a little tough. You spend your entire life in a city and you know hundreds of people, so it is especially embarrassing when they know your name, but you can’t remember theirs. They say, “Jimmy, how have you been man?” and you have to reply with a safe “buddy,” “pal” or one of my favorites, the old reliable “my friend.” I love the term “pally,” but that’s usually reserved for more familiar friends. Not everyone earns the title of “pally.”
Most of the time I really do remember those old faces and that’s great and sometimes I remember the face, but not the name. But after a minute or so, it all comes back. Somerville is where you make friends and keep them for life. So, if I see you and I can’t remember your name, don’t mind if I just say, “How have you been pal?”