Patriot, Hero, Drunkard Paul Revere

the old north church among the Boston skyline

Photograph by City of Boston


“Nice Thunderbird,” two ladies, each a decade my senior and I don’t tend to turn down a smile.

“Thanks, yeah,” I got out of the turquoise convertible and slid my hand kind of slowly across the top of the door. Immediately I wondered what I was doing, where did I learn to do something like that? 70’s porn?

The women didn’t seem phased and were now looking both ways across Salem Street, just near the Old North Church where Paul Revere would signal the beginning of the United States they say, and beginning to walk across the street. I was full of confidence, they think I have a nice car. I’ve never had a nice car before. This isn’t even mine, I’m borrowing from a friend on a lost bet. He bet me his dog that he could light a dumpster on fire with just one match. People are stupid, but I couldn’t take his dog. So I ended up with his completely restored 1955 Ford Thunderbird convertible.

Instinctively, I puffed up my chest a little, sucked in my gut, and ran my hand back through my hair. “So this is what the Fonz feels like?”

They were within inches, looking the car up and down, smiling. “Can I drive it?” one asked, laughing.

“Yeah, we’ll have to see abou–” I started but was quickly cut off.

“Which engine does it have?” The question caught me off guard. I stumbled a little over my words. I was found out.

“It’s not yours, is it?”

The morning after Paul Revere allegedly saw the light in the Old North Church signaling the British were coming, the night we’re all told that he rode his horse around alerting everyone, coalescing our not quite yet new nation’s militia, he must have had one helluva hangover.

The real story, so they say, is that he was drunk and his buddy Will did most of the leg work. I can imagine old Paul waking up in a sort of, “What happened? Are we a country yet?” stupor, completely unaware of what to do next.

So was my situation. Before I could react though, the two women had moved on down the street, looking over their shoulders and giggling like I was a teenager caught with a Victoria Secret magazine in the boys room.

Not a Patriots fan, I got back in my car and headed west out of town. Boston is a parking lot, and every time you do make it a block or two, they toll you again. But it’s a pretty town, and I was in a fancy car. Embarrassed, not having been quite so shut down since high school, I never wished I was in a Subaru quite so badly.

A while down the road, US Route 20, I saw the Wayside Inn, where a guy by the name of Longfellow wrote the poem that ensured we’d all remember old Paul Revere as a lone hero. I parked out front and looked up at the place. What could be a more fitting bed to call my own for the night, to rest here at an inn older than our nation, where the tale of that fabled silversmith riding alone in the night, sparking a flame (quite literally, back in that Old North Church) that ignited what is now known as the spirit of this fine nation.

Instead I fell asleep in the car, top down, trying to pick stars out from the night sky and wondering what all of the people out West were doing right then.