Periscope Depth

one foot in the door, the other one in the gutter

When the Red Line rolled into Davis Square on Friday evening, Sylvia and I boarded a car that already had ten young guys in it. I have never been able to estimate age accurately, so they could have been anywhere between 20 and 28. But Sylvia and I narrowed down the age range using several context clues:

* They were dressed near-identically: clean blue jeans, button down shirts (light or white colors) with collars open but not popped.

* Several of them had “Gatorade” bottles, because what goes better on a 25-degree Boston evening than a G2 straight from the fridge?

* They were talking loudly. “God, that sounds like every GB 101 business plan ever,” one of them said. “Let’s open a sports bar and we’ll all be millionaires.”

* They got off at Harvard.

* None of them had jackets. Sure, it was sub-freezing, but why bring a jacket? That’s just another $5 you’ve got to give to some jerk-off coat check.

Now, none of those clues by themselves would prove that they were college kids. Sylvia and I got off at Harvard, after all. But connected together, they presented a compelling picture.

We caught up with Ben, whose birthday we were celebrating, at Russell House Tavern. Over the house burger and a Vieux Carre (pisco sour for the lady), we hashed out our theory with some of Ben’s friends.

“My only question,” I said, “is what college they’d be coming from? If it were Tufts, they’d have boarded with us at Davis. But they were already on the train, which means they had to get on at Alewife.”

“There’s plenty of buses that run to Alewife from points west,” Sylvia said. “Arlington, Waltham, Lexington …”

“Waltham,” I said. “Could they be Bentley kids?”

One of Ben’s friends overheard and asked us to describe them. We gave a recap: dressed well but not richly, drinking illicit alcohol, traveling in a pack. I could still picture them as I saw them last: milling in the Harvard Square terminus, peering at exit signs before heading up the bus tunnel.

“That sounds like Bentley,” he said.

A quick trip to Google confirms that freshman business majors at Bentley University have to take an intro course called GB 101. Bentley, please put something in your freshman orientation about jackets. Maybe some charts on how cold Boston gets. Plus one or two scare pics of people dying from exposure. These guys could use the help.