When I was a kid, growing up in Connecticut, I hated driving around with my dad on the weekends. Not because I didn’t like him nor because the errands were boring or I had better things to do. It was because of Car Talk. I didn’t care about cars and, more importantly, I didn’t get why it was even remotely funny. I just hated it everything about “Click and Clack,” who I figured had the dumbest names of pretty much anyone in the whole world.
Then I grew up and got my own car, where I could finally control the dial myself. A few years later I moved to Boston and didn’t really drive unless I was home for the weekend. I pretty much forgot all about Car Talk.
After graduation, I moved back home to Connecticut. I had a job at a local paper, one that sent me driving all over the state with little but my radio for a companion. And with so very little decent musical options on Sunday of work, I tuned my radio over to a public radio station. And there it was again: Car Talk.
I almost changed the channel that instant, my initial hatred bubbling up after years at bay. But I decided I’d give the Car Talk guys a chance for a minute. And then the weirdest thing happened: I kept listening. I laughed harder than I had in ages.
Suddenly Car Talk reminded me not of long weekend car rides as a kid, but of Boston. It reminded me of the crazy way people talk here, of the way everyone can tell a much longer story when a shorter one would certainly suffice. It reminded me of the way my friends from school and college jobs made me laugh. Even without specifically mentioning any of it, the show reminded me of the weather and of the Charles and of every little thing that made that city home. And with every additional hour of that show, I knew a little bit more that I ached to be back.
The program, recorded at WBUR by Tom and Ray Magliozzi, brothers who own a garage near Harvard Square, isn’t about Boston. Hell, they even refer every week to “our fair city” — Cambridge, not Boston. But their spirit is totally Boston. It’s brash, but friendly. Jokey and a little bit offensive sometimes, but certainly not mean. Enthusiastic to a fault, even. Just like a true Bostonian.
I’ve got some deep Boston roots — my grandfather worked for the telephone company before there was more than one; my whole family hails from Massachusetts and most of us still live here — but that isn’t what makes be a Bostonian. I’m one because I decided to love this city, or maybe because I just couldn’t help myself. Now I’m back in Boston, here in Brighton for some 18 months now. I don’t know if everyone would agree that makes me a Bostonian, but I certainly hope I am.