I’m not going to lie, it’s a bad trait for a tour guide.
See, I used to do a Boystown Tour. In fact, it was my one and only tour last spring. And, it didn’t go all that well.
I put all my eggs into a Boystown basket. I did the tour four times a week on four separate days. People were confused because I was straight. I think some just didn’t understand and others were just downright not interested. It’s a niche tour, this I know now. I learned a lot last summer and goldang it, things went so much better this year. But after last year, I let go of the Boystown Tour for spring. I wanted a clean slate and I was sad and upset about how Boystown turned out.
Here’s the rub, it was a good tour. I had so much help from the community. I met great people who wanted to share their history and who were so proud of the neighborhood and the tour was so much better for it. It was fun, but it was also historical. It touched on the pain underlying the neighborhood and the fight everyone still has in front of them. And it was a celebration on how far we’ve all come and the joy that comes along with it.
So, my one customer (pretty much, seriously) who loved that tour last year, booked a group for it this year.
It was a group of college kids, they seemed extra young, like Freshman young. There were 24 of them on the Friday before Halloween. I was gently warned by the group leader that some of these kids were conservative and I assured him that this was not some crazy sex tour, but a history.
Very good. Off we go. Admittedly, the boys were nervous. I could see it. They giggled a lot. A LOT. But that’s okay, I’m fine with giggling, people learn through giggles. So we’re cruising around the neighborhood, me and a group of 24 students. We were noticeable to say the least.
And every couple of blocks, someone came to say hello to us. Chris, the bartender at the Town Hall gave them an awesome history of the bar, we just happened to see him outside. Jeff, the manager of Little Jims came out to say hi to us. He was so pleased to see me again and called me by name and told me how great it was to see a tour outside again. He talked to the kids and told them about how important Little Jims is to the neighborhood. Everywhere we went people came to shake hands, to say hi, to make the boys giggle once again.
I was totally blown away. It was so nice and cool to see the neighborhood come out (heh) for this, to be open to this group of students, to make them laugh and feel more comfortable, to show them that everyone’s pretty friendly and open and what a cool freaking neighborhood this is behind the neon lights and loud music.
And most of all, I was so thankful to everyone. It meant that the Boystown Tour meant something to these people, that they remembered me and came out to talk and educate. I felt like that tour got the short end of the stick and it wasn’t me or them or the hood or anything else. It was ignorance on my part, of how tours work and who goes.
I feel like I have a much better handle on this now.
Next spring, the Boystown Tour is coming back. Maybe once or twice a month, not four days a week…but I love it. It’s a good tour. It’s a great neighborhood and I’m proud of it and me and everyone.
Thank you Boystown. Thank you so much for being such a tight-knit neighborhood. Thank you for your pride and your honesty. Thank you for letting a weird, straight lady wander around your neighborhood and ask ridiculous questions. Thank you for remembering and thank you for letting me know that your doors are still open and that me and my tours are welcome anytime.