After reading the numerous stories regarding the CPS strike and general frustration with the Chicago Public Schools, it occurred to me that some current city dwellers might be contemplating packing up and heading to the land of minivans, lawn movers and cookie cutter abodes.
Before you trade in your urban-cool digs, there are a few things that you should know about life in the 'burbs:
1. Don't sleep with the Schwan's man. It doesn't matter how cute he is, or how helpful he is, or that he likes to come around and compliment you. And, yes, I know that a man driving around a truck filled with convenient, yummy deliciousness is difficult to resist. But resist you must.
The rest of the neighborhood can and will watch and calculate just how long his truck sits in front of your house. Resist the UPS man, too.
2. Close all the windows before you do or say anything which you do not want broadcast around the neighborhood. Sound carries, and your neighbors will grab beverages and head outside when they hear voices raised, regardless of the reason.
Before I learned this fun fact, my neighbors heard my toddlers' tantrums, my youngest child's conception and several horrible moments when I lost my patience. Nowadays, nothing puts fear into my children more than the sight of me taking deep breaths while closing all the windows.
3. Don't be a cheap ass and skimp on your window treatments. Pay extra and get the blackout lining on any linen shades or lightweight window treatments in your home. Yes, these are expensive, but are you willing to discover years after you purchased them that your beautiful linen roman shades above your bathtub are actually quite see-thru at night when the bathroom light is on?
No, you do not. Trust me, you really do not want to learn that fact while you are drinking in the neighbor's living room and glance over to your house to see the silhouette of your spouse standing in the bathtub.
4. Don't speed. You live in a neighborhood. And if you live in a neighborhood, which is anchored by an elementary school, you are an ass to even attempt it.
My speed limit is 25 miles an hour, which might seem slow to you when you are late to a meeting or to catch the train, but when a bunch of children are playing outside - Slow down! 25 mph seems like 80 mph when a basketball slips into the street, quickly followed by a child.
And just because you slept through your alarm or the Mexican food you ate last night kept you in the bathroom when you should've been getting ready for work doesn't mean that you have the right to break the law and endanger my children. On my street in the 'burbs, we write down license plate information and report your vehicle.
5. If you are going to have an affair, please go outside the neighborhood. Is this so very much to ask? You are already going outside of your marriage, so venture a little bit farther. Consider how awkward your extramarital affairs are for your neighbors during next year's block party.
And, yes, I know that you think you are oh, so sneaky, and that no one will ever find out. You are an idiot and re-read #2 and #3. We will see and/or hear you and your not-so-discreet lover. Don't mess with my block party and Back-to-School night events!
6. Just say No! While those suburban home parties are great ways to meet your neighbors and exchange neighborhood gossip, save your money and say no to that Mary Kay/Tastefully Simple/Lia Sophia/Pampered Chef party. Those suckers are expensive and really add up. Invite your neighbors over for a BBQ or Happy Hour Fridays instead.
Exception: For those who are adventurous, there are two exceptions to the rule: a Surprise Party ("marital aides") and a Technique Party (Give better fellatio with these simple steps). At those parties, you get an opportunity to learn way more about your neighbors then you've ever really cared to know, but kinda really wanted to know anyway. Several years later, we are still laughing and talking about the fellatio party. I even blogged about it in Not Your Average Suburban House Party. Attendance at these parties might also alleviate the need for #5, so it's worth a try to spice things up in the bedroom.
While nothing can beat good public schools within walking distance of your home, life in the 'burbs isn't nearly as idyllic as it may seem.
We moved from Chicago in 2002, and I often miss the anonymity of city life. I miss the culture and diversity. I miss walking to the grocery store, library and the red line. And I dream of when the kids are gone and we can move back to the city.