Editor's Note: Suburban living, such shame! Convenience of shopping, eating, being able to park a car; what a horrible set of circumstances this young man finds himself in!
How to Survive in the SuburbsAre you stuck in the same old one-horse town, which is connected to the next one horse-town by strip malls and fast food restaurants, and it’s making you lose your mind? Whether you are saving money to leave or have yet to develop an escape plan, there are a few very important rules that you must abide by if you are going to survive- and one day, get out.
1. Don’t become a “townie”. One way you can avoid falling into this social category is by not habitually attending the local bars. Once you become a local regular you will probably lose one of your front teeth or end up marrying either a Budweiser-chugging mechanic who didn’t graduate high school, or a ‘gangsta’ who wears polo and blasts Sean Paul music while driving his neon-colored supra that has a trunk full of speakers and subwoofers. And you may one day find yourself an underemployed 30-year-old living with your parents. Another term I’ve come up with for a townie is “suburban celebrity”. This endemic term is meant to strongly connote sarcasm. A suburban celebrity is a 20-something whose every day revolves around going to the bar at night. Social drinking in the suburbs is OK in moderation, but there is a thin line that, if overstepped, may be cause for others to call you a suburban celebrity behind your back. One sign to watch for is taking a limo with your friends to a suburban-version club that sits on a four lane expressway between a GM car dealership and a Super WaWa.
2. Buy a scale. You see, there are many factors that come into play while living in the suburbs that make you fat. Most effectual are fast food restaurants. There isn’t just a Taco Bell at one end of town and a Wendy’s at the other. You literally drive down a main avenue for half a mile and have your choice of McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, or Taco Bell. And those are just the standard ones. There are new fast food restaurants popping up in between the old ones. Even older restaurants and common chain restaurants (don’t get me started on Applebees and TGI Fridays) are BUILDING drive-up windows to make the consumption of crappy food ever more abundant and effortless. Hopefully keeping a scale and weighing yourself regularly will prevent you from engaging in the fast-food fury. Another fat factor is strip malls. I think strip malls replaced indoor malls so that people could drive from one end, to the middle, to the other end, for a nice, intermittent Shop-Drive. Or maybe people are just way too addicted to driving? (see tip #3)
3. Do not engage in futile driving. Cruising around the suburbs can tend to be incredibly self-destructive and depressing. If you must drive, say, for going to the grocery store, try to take back-roads. Otherwise you will pass eight CVS drugstores (one of which employs the polo-wearing gangster), two Rite-Aids, a Target, and a Walmart and find yourself wondering, in disgust, how all of these places are in business when they are replicas of one another. Maybe CVS is having a sale on the aphrodisiacal Axe, and Target is having a sale on mountain spring-scented shaving cream? (ahh, mountain springs). Also, driving is addictive. If you ever find yourself driving out of your neighborhood and forgetting what you were about to do, it probably was not necessary and may even have just been an excuse to drive. You should also recognize why there are so many CVSs, etc. It is possible that they are each a half mile apart because of a marketing study that showed that the higher the frequency of store appearances, the higher the probability of attracting new shoppers. Don’t be a sucker! Beware of the following scenario: You find yourself getting into your car, driving out of your way to go to the cheapest gas station, expressing your glee to a fellow pumper about how cheap the gas has gotten, and then driving into the parking lot of a CVS because it’s the third one you’ve seen, so, what the hell. You subsequently buy half the items on the weekly flyer simply because they are so cheap. Then you get back in your car and forget why you went out in the first place, so you drive home and sit on your couch while eating your newly-purchased $1.99 box of Ho-Hos and watching some reality TV show starring somebody in Beverly Hills whose parents may or may not have more money in their bank account than you. But I digress. (P.S. If you try to go through the drive-through pharmacy to purchase Ho-Hos, then you’re in real trouble, and there may not be any saving you from the suburbs).
4. One more thing to mention about strip malls: you should avoid them because they are grossly prodigal and may make you become a bad person. Why are they so enormous? Each store has a 40 foot ceiling leaving roughly 30 ft of empty lateral space, and if the building is 30 ft. long that’s roughly 2700 cubic feet of empty space that is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer.
* These are just a few steps that may help you to Survive the Suburbs. Beyond these, just try to maintain independent thought and not lose your sense of self. The greatest threat posed by suburbs is that they encourage conformism, which breeds ignorance. Stay strong, save your pennies, and soon you will be able to get out alive.
Article added: 16 February 2009
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