“I used to live in Chicago” an acquaintance once explained to me, as if having previously lived in Chicago she was exempt from the mundane details of cooperative suburban living. It was said with a thinly veiled tone of superiority implying that her former zip code conferred upon her some sort of special status. I was supposed to be impressed.
It was clear from her attitude that she believed she was better than the other suburban moms on the block because she was from The City. It was all rather beneath her and decidedly too banal for her experienced, urban perspective.
Meh. I’d heard it all before and I’ve heard it many times since.
Although the urge to do so fades with time, former city dwellers tend to spend the first few years justifying the move to the suburbs. If it weren’t for the children, they explain, we’d still be in The City. We’re still better informed. Hipper. Less pedantic. We are not you.
Suburbanites are boring, they sneer. Tame. Monochromatic. Milquetoast. The women wear yoga pants. And gossip. And shop. The men play golf. And do yard work. They’ve lost their edge- if they’ve ever had it.
Her attitude was mild compared to some. City residents act like people go to the suburbs to procreate and die and never be heard from again. They treat going as a penitential sacrifice for past sins and prepare themselves for a visit to the suburbs as if Wheaton or Northbrook or Naperville is in another country.
And the snark when we venture into the city is abominably rude and patronizing.
We suburbanites are terribly banal, we are told. We are gross and tasteless intruders into their clever and erudite world. We are no better than (gasp!) tourists.
We don’t get it. And, because we’re suburbanites, we never will.
Seriously, Chicagoans? You think you’re tough and cool and whatever? Not so much.
You think dealing with city denizens require adroit people skills? You obviously have never had to chair a meeting filled with woman who used to work full time in prestigious jobs but have decided to stay home while the kids are young- or are still practicing law or medicine or engineering but are working part time to be available for things like school picnics and the like. PTA moms are hardcore. I don’t recommend crossing one. You’ll regret it far longer than if you commit the cardinal sin of stealing your neighbor’s freshly shoveled parking space.
Chicago mayors are tough, you say? Emanuel is an amateur when it comes to strong arming people compared to a Hinsdale Junior League member. Those women will rip your heads off and eat your liver- after it’s been made into pate and served with champagne, mind you.
And God help you if you run afoul of the school secretary at your daughter’s elementary school. I don’t care how much clout you had in the city; you get on the wrong side of the school secretary and you will follow every. single.rule.with.no.exceptions.or.allowances.FOREVER.
We’ll see your city survival skills and raise them by a bus full of singing kindergarteners. Or trying to get a permit at Village Hall for a new backyard deck. Or campaigning for a library referendum.
So go ahead and sneer and snark and insults, Chicago. We suburbanites can take it. After all, we were once just like you.
But now we have better parking.