Matthew Nash

The Ongoing Saga of The Mysterious Tab Drinker

One of the weirder things going on in my life is the saga of The Mysterious Tab Drinker. Yes, that’s right. Someone is drinking that forgotten, terrible diet soda from the ’80s — TAB — in a way that makes me wonder what the heck is going on.

There’s no real logical or professional way to explain this. It JUST IS. It’s a thing in my life, without explanation or meaning. All I can say is that someone, outside my door and in my neighborhood, loves Tab — that ’80s diet soda that tastes like Band-Aids – and wants me to know about it.

All I have to offer is a series of social media posts from the past few years. This is the story of The Mysterious Tab Drinker. Do with it what you will.

October 4, 2013

My wife, Nicole, posted this picture online. At the time, nothing seemed mysterious.This photo was taken on a small, hidden street in Boston near our house and the English High School. It is not a road people travel down, and this spot is on a remote corner above the football field and tennis courts. It is, in truth, nowhere. There are no houses or businesses nearby. There is a gas station and the police station at either end of the street, both several blocks away. In other words, our Tab Drinker is standing alone, on a side street, knocking back several cans of ’80s diet soda.13-10-04

For a while, The Mysterious Tab Drinker (MTD) was absent. Or maybe they were always there, lurking… and I didn’t know to look for them. It took some time for me to notice. Some extreme weather, a few blizzards to reduce the world to a stark landscape of white.

Here’s a photo I took of my wife in the midst of the worst winter in Boston history.

February 9, 201515-02-09


Just a few days later, this turned up…

February 12, 201515-02-12


Two weeks later, they were back with an impressive Tab display.

February 23, 201515-02-23

Three days later…

February 26, 201515-02-26

A week later…

March 6, 2015



A few days later, and epic display of Tab enthusiasm…

March 10, 201515-03-10

Two weeks later, a double-sighting. First in the morning…

March 23, 201515-03-23

And then that evening, on my way home. In the meantime, my friend and former colleague Bob Siegelman has joined the conversation to say that he has actually seen The Mysterious Tab Drinker in person.

Apparently he hangs out at the nearby subway station — Green Street on the Orange Line — and drinks Tab all day.

March 23, 201515-03-23-2


As the long Boston winter came to an end, the worst winter in Boston history, so did the story of the Mysterious Tab Drinker. With the end of the cold weather, it appeared that they might be fading into the greenery.

April 10, 201515-04-10

By this point, my friends thought this whole thing was a joke. Sure, a strange Tab-drinking mad-person was running around my neighborhood littering the place with pink cans, but the whole thing was just a joke.

April 18, 201515-04-18

After that, things were quiet. Summer is not a time when the Mysterious Tab Drinker is out, apparently. There weren’t many clues for a long time. My Facebook friends were wondering what was going on, but April ended quietly.

April 28, 201515-04-28


In June, my wife had a brief spotting that raised some hopes, but only briefly.

June 8, 201515-06-08


By late-August, with no sign of Tabby for many months, I was feeling nostalgic.

August 26, 2015


But just as things seemed over, the weather turned colder and MTD came out. At first it was just a tiny glimpse, a little hint of their return. A glorious moment!

September 22, 201515-09-22


Something had changed, though. Our Mysterious Tab Drinker was more bold, no longer hanging out near the tennis courts and football field. They were going to the subway station, making a statement.

September 28, 201515-09-28


About a month later, my friend Bob — see above for his interest in this mystery — Bob sends me this picture from the escalator at the Green Street train station nearby. Mystery semi-sort-of-solved!!!!!

I mean, I know this guy. I’ve seen him around. Jamaica Plain is a pretty small neighborhood, and someone with such a unique style certainly stands out. Not that I know him, just that…. well, maybe if I’m patient I can meet him…

November 20, 201515-10-20



After the big sighting, the great reveal….


I took almost a month to find any evidence of our Mysterious Tab Drinker. Was Bob even right? Or was this whole thing a mirage?

November 23, 201515-11-23

So now what? The Mysterious Tab Drinker roams the neighborhood. I know his face, and yet I can’t figure out his mysteries.

On New Year’s Eve — I think he was taunting me.

December 31, 201515-12-31




And then….



When all was lost…




January 6, 201616-01-06



Wow it’s been 2 years since I updated this post! A lot has happened with our mysterious friend. It’s time to update the story!


May 20, 2016

On my way to the store, I spotted our Mysterious Tab Drinking friend on his way to the laundromat. I BOLDLY took a side street, following him at a distance watching through the trees until… he did some laundry. Not very mysterious. But HE WAS DRINKING TAB THE WHOLE TIME!




June 16, 201616-06-16

July 4, 2016


August 30, 2016

Morning and afternoon posts from our mysterious friend.



October 18, 2016


November 14, 2016

A week after the election of Donald Trump…


November 30, 2016

A few weeks after the election of Donald Trump…


December 12, 2016


January 9, 2017

This is the point in the story where my friend Jackie starts going a little nuts.


February 14, 2017


April 11, 2017


April 24, 2017

OK, this one requires some explaining. In the months after Trump’s election, there was some racist graffiti around my neighborhood. This part of Boston is still somewhat diverse, and people were being jerks. The day that I took this picture, someone had written stuff on a wall and lamp-post near the high school. My hope was that our Mysterious Tab Drinker played the hero and fought some jerks.



October 17, 2017

One morning, waiting for the train….


December 4, 2017

The final sighting of 2017. I know that I, for one, am looking forward to a great 2018!!!!



Categorised as: Rants

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