Metro, Column

Zombies, A Roof, And An Ultimate Realization About City Life

Most of my days are spent sitting on the roof of Walsh Hall, staring at the blood-red sky as a lonely guitar plays a chilling yet hopeful melody in the background. That was where I was yesterday, perched on the edge of the roof, the Prudential and Hancock Towers visible over the horizon past the reservoir.

“Boston,” the air whispered like a creepy neighbor. My hair swayed gently in the breeze, and my face glowed with the fire of the night.

It had been a hard few weeks since Halloween. I had decided not to dress up and to just stay in and study on Halloween. I spent most of the day in the lounge where I was repeatedly accused of insensitivity for dressing like a homeless person. People had taken to calling me Bologna as though that was my name for no apparent reason. My hair was growing scraggly and unruly.

“Then why don’t you get a haircut?” Ben, my personal guitar player called from behind me.

“Ben,” I said, my voice calm and cool, like Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, and Richard Arlen combined to create some deformed voice-baby. “I pay you to play dramatic guitar songs while I stare at things, not to comment on my personal appearance.”

“But you were talking to yourself.”

“You know who else talked to himself? George Washington, that’s who. Do you hate America, Ben? Is that what this is? Now get back to playing the guitar.”

“I realized that I had somehow backed myself into the antithesis of what a Metro column is supposed to be. I don’t really want to live in the city. Almost definitely not after I graduate.”


As Ben began to strum the guitar, I squinted at the sunset and grunted in a very awesome way. I’m just too loyal to my Milwaukee barber to get a haircut here. It wouldn’t be right. But the mop of greasy, black vomit on my head was making me sweat, blurring my vision, destroying my ability to write life-illuminating columns. I knew I had to come up with something Boston-tastic for my penultimate column.

“Dark have been my dreams of late,” I said. “What is to be done?”

“I read an article that said Boston was ranked the number one city to survive a zombie apocalypse,” Ben said, from the other side of the roof.

“Really?” I said.

“Yup,” he said. “It was mostly because of all of the medical and biological scientists who’d be able to hole up and research a cure.”

“That makes sense, Benjamin,” I said. “Boston is full of specialized medical professionals because it’s a great city and only truly fantastic people are allowed to write columns about it. Thank the Lord above that you told me that must-know factoid about Boston surviving a zombie apocalypse. That’s really practical and useful in my day-to-day life.”

“New York got last place.”

“Ha,” I said, not actually laughing, but literally saying “ha” phonetically one time and then stopping.

“So,” Ben said. “My hour’s up. I can do another if you’re willing to pay me, Bologna.”

“That is not my name,” I said before climbing down the ladder I had placed on the side of the eight-story Walsh dormitory. Once I reached street level I looked around and wondered if all these cherry-faced little college students knew that they were living in the city most likely to survive a zombie apocalypse.

I also wondered if I really cared. I quickly decided that I didn’t. What did it matter? In a strange coup d’etat of my mind, I realized that, as I neared the end of my penultimate column, I no longer really wanted to live in the city.

For the past year I’ve been writing columns about how fantastic the city is. I’ve experienced many facets of what the city has to offer and then wrote completely ridiculous accounts that had very little in common with the actual experience except for maybe general sentiment. A fictionalized Archer did a lot of crazy and weird things while real Archer didn’t do very many exciting things, except for occasionally writing about himself in third person.

Now, for my penultimate column, after reading about a zombie apocalypse in this fine city and staring at some gigantic metal towers, I realized that I had somehow backed myself into the antithesis of what a Metro column is supposed to be. I don’t really want to live in the city. Almost definitely not after I graduate. After spending over a year here, I don’t know why anybody would ever want to live in the city, not just Boston, any city. It’s expensive, unpleasant, loud, smelly, and despair-inducing. Last week I saw a man wearing a tattered pair of jeans and a grey hoodie with smeared, greasy clown paint on his face walking around the Common. It was terrifying and weird and something I don’t want to see anymore. There’s a lot of interesting stuff that’s great to visit and talk about but that’s only because I can escape back to the cloistered BC campus afterward. Maybe Boston would keep you safe in a zombie apocalypse, but why even bother thinking about something so stupid and unpleasant?

After my four years are up, I plan to return to good old Nowhere, a place where I can wear my trademark, absurdly-large pantaloons in peace and stare at things pensively for hours on end. I don’t mean to dissuade you from enjoying city life. I’ve been writing about how you should enjoy it for almost a whole year now, but I also know that it’s not right for everyone. This may be a very un-Metro moment, but just remember that an entire country exists between the two coasts, a country that might not be well equipped for a zombie apocalypse but also might be the better place to live.

Featured Image by John Wiley / Heights Editor

November 12, 2015