Friday, August 1, 2008

Confessions of a True Suburbanite

Hi again to everyone in Readerland from Kate P, putting in a guest post for Nina.

It's pretty easy to tell I grew up in the suburbs, right on the edge of the city. I'd get my taste of the city once in a while--church and shopping in the immediately adjacent communities, trips to the Art Museum and other must-see sites, the department store light show at Christmas, my dad's office--but I didn't really know my way around. I had a friend in college who knew the public transportation system practically inside and out, and I relied on her for both companionship and navigation when we wanted to hit South Street for shopping or go to a concert down by Penn's Landing. In my mid-20s I drove downtown just about every week to see an acupuncturist, but I didn't venture much outside of the area where her building was located. I knew how to get there, and how to get home.

Last night, I attended a dinner organized by a high school classmate for all of us local high school classmates to surprise the new chef at a particular downtown restaurant, because the chef was one of our classmates as well. (Little did I know this skinny blond kid in my art class would become a chef who is starting to get recognition for her talent; little did she, judging by the circuitous route she took.) Nobody took me up on my carpool suggestion, so I drove it alone.

Driving into the city requires consulting my dad, who worked downtown for decades and knows the city well. His directions got me pretty far, until it came to finding a place to park. The restaurant came up fast on my left, and there weren't any parking garages in sight. So a drove around the corner, and turned right at the first street sign with the "P" parking symbol indicating parking was that way.

It wasn't until after I had parked and gone down to the street level that I realized I didn't quite know how far I was from the restaurant. So I memorized the stores on the corner and started walking up the street--the opposite side of where I'd come in, so I was in essence making a loop instead of (probably more wisely) walking back up the way I'd driven. Fortunately I came upon someone from the Parking Authority, and while she sighed at my tourist-y ignorance of how far I was from the restaurant, she told me where I needed to turn.

After I'd turned the corner and made my way toward the restaurant, I had one of those "only in the city" encounters. Because this was a fairly swanky restaurant, and it was hot and humid out, I decided to wear my blue cotton sheath dress that came to my knee and a white linen shirt to cover my bare shoulders, with heeled sandals. I'm short and I'm not a toothpick, but I have nice legs (if I do say so myself), so what happens?

"Baby, you so beautiful."

Called out from some random stoop in front of some random store, a good block or so from the restaurant.

So, as an ignorant suburbanite, I ask those of you city-dwellers and city-savvy people, what should be the proper city response?

(A) Ignore it and keep walking;
(B) Yell "Thanks!" over your shoulder and keep walking;
(C) Turn around to see who said that;
(D) Hug your purse tighter and pick up the pace;
(E) _____________, you spoiled, uptight, ignorant suburbanite.


LizB said...

Hmmm, I think A is best. Thanking the person for the compliment could invite him to make further comments.

maryse said...

i think it totally depends on who it is doing the complimenting, but A is the safest option.

sometimes a compliment is really just a compliment. i hope it made you smile inside at least.

Kate P said...

LizB--that's pretty much what my thinking was: don't engage and you won't be pursued.

Maryse--you're right; it is nice to know every once in awhile that I still "have it." I just wish the compliment had come from a nice available man in his thirties. :)