Kevin Cullen

Calling the cops again

By Kevin Cullen
August 21, 2008
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Sometime back, I ran afoul of English teachers when I intentionally wrote something ungrammatical. On Monday, I made an unintentional mistake, and if you think it's bad getting roughed up by the Grammar Police, wait till you get handcuffed and dope slapped by the History Police.

My mistake, in a column about the charms of the great state of Delaware, was to assert that Delaware was part of the Confederacy. Now, as even a seventh-grader knows, Delaware didn't secede from the Union, even though it was a slave state, and the History Police pointed this out in a 465-word (and still counting) e-mailed indictment.

The arrest warrants from the Grammar Police were short, concise, and to the point. The ones from the History Police were often long-winded, sometimes longer than the offending column. Except the ones from Delaware natives, who pointed out the error with their good-natured understatement.

But that was the good cop routine. The bad cop routine had some constables from the History Police saying my shocking ignorance of which states were part of the Confederacy was clear and convincing evidence that:

a) I'm stupid.

b) I'm really stupid.

c) I am personally responsible for the Globe's declining circulation.

Hey, what can I say? I went to the University of Massachusetts. Or whatever they call it these days.

Did you see the story on the same day, on the same page, that I was besmirching the reputation of Delaware? The story talked about a big dustup among UMass alumni and staff on what to call UMass.

When I went there, we called it cheap. That's why we went there. Our parents didn't have any money. Or, in my case, couldn't see the wisdom in throwing good money after bad on someone who didn't even know that Delaware wasn't in the Confederacy. Some of us got accepted to "good" schools but we couldn't afford them. So we went to UMass, and a lot of us turned out OK.

Well, except me, of course. But even the History Police would give me an A for effort. I have gone out of my way to spend quality time of late with really smart people, like the great Jon Hite. Hite went to UMass and never left the Happy Valley. He runs the Housing Authority in Northampton, and he's a good guy, even though he smokes like a chimney.

So, the other day, I was having a conversation about history and grammar with Hite. We were sitting in the UMass Club, downtown, in our smoking jackets and ascots, enjoying a good brandy, removing our pipes only to make pithy comments about all those jamokes at Harvard who spent a small fortune to get an undergraduate degree, when Hite and I actually made money going to UMass. Now, I realize that blackmailing your friends and hustling pool at the Drake, an old bar in downtown Amherst, doesn't qualify as being an entreprenuer, but we did our best.

"I say, old chap," Hite sang, tapping his pipe against the Queen Anne chair, letting the ashes fall to the floor, where they would be vacuumed by someone who went to Boston University. "What say we turn on the telly and see how our portfolios are doing?"

"Sorry, old boy," I replied, pausing to let a plume of smoke rise to the ceiling for effect. "But I've some tickets for Tanglewood, and I've simply got to hit the road. My chauffeur, a foreign fellow, refuses to go over the speed limit. Even on the Pike. I think it has something to do with his status."

Hite rolled his eyes, exhaled his own plume, and shook his head. "It's so hard," he said, nodding sympathetically, "to get good help these days."

Last night I asked Hite what, if we can't call it UMass-Amherst, we should call our beloved alma mater. He gave the classic UMass answer: "I've got Springsteen tickets."

And then he hung up.

Kevin Cullen is a moron. Trust us. You don't want to reach him.

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