Let's declare a city-'burb truce

OPINION

August 22, 2012|By Ernest Wilkins, @ernestwilkins | RedEye

As long as there have been cities, there have been suburbs. Humans have lived their entire lives in both and turned out well. Yet as long as there have been cities and 'burbs, there has been friction between the inhabitants.

The recent outrage about a phantom Kuma's Corner location in a Schaumburg mall remind us all of this ever-present yet thankfully bloodless conflict. The Kuma's story—which started when RedEye spotted a coming-soon note on a mall directory and quickly was dismissed by the restaurant—turned into the online Civil War. (Or was it the War of Suburban Aggression?) The point is, people on both sides went absolutely nuts, and it left me completely conflicted.

Like a lot of Chicagoans, I spent some of my formative years in the suburbs (I see you, Homewood) and some in the city. So what's my affiliation? Do I get to claim that I'm a "real Chicagoan" even though I moved to the 'burbs when I was 10—and then back again in my 20s? Does any of this even matter in the long run?

No, it doesn't. I'm about peace, y'all. We don't have to keep up this vicious cycle. As someone who has spent considerable time living in both the city and the 'burbs, allow me to propose these rules for better relations.

For city dwellers

1. You don't get to cast judgment if you're living a suburban existence in the city. There are some of you who fail to take advantage of your city and all of the cool stuff in it. If you're only going to work, then the same four bars and restaurants, what's the difference between you and someone in Oswego? Nothing.

2. If someone from the suburbs does something notable, you don't get to claim him or her as a Chicagoan. Seriously, should it matter to you that Bill Murray was born and raised in Wilmette? NOPE. Let those neighborhoods claim those folks.

3. Recognize that, sometimes, the 'burbs have it going on. Red Lobster. Ikea. A lot of amazing restaurants that aren't chains. Breweries such as Flossmoor Station and Two Brothers. You CAN have a good time outside of the city limits.

For suburbanites

1. Stop acting like it's 1953. There's a sort of weird suburban nationalism from folks who pretend bad things happen only in the city. "It's too loud." "Too much crime and too many weirdos." You may want to check what your little brother is up to in your suburban basement. Uh, better knock first.

2. When visiting the city, stop behaving like it's Vegas. You know damn well you're too grown to be out here passed out in a Tapout shirt at age 28. Everything in moderation.

3. Know the three S's of city living and apply them when you're visiting. Shut up on public transportation. Stay on the right side of the sidewalk so people can get by. And seriously, shut the hell up on the train.

See? World's already a better place. Now if you need me, I'm off to Red Lobster. Endless shrimp, y'all!

Ernest Wilkins is Chicago's wingman.

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