Greetings esteemed psychiatric board members! I am here today at The Rick Santorum Institution For The Common Sense-Challenged to convince you of my sanity. After all, as Rick and I know, A plus B doesn't always equal C.
Sometimes it equals "snob."
I'll start at the beginning: A few months ago, I relocated from Los Angeles to Portland. My husband insists that we moved to Brooklyn instead -- Park Slope to be exact. (That was our intention.) But I'm not convinced. Now he thinks I've lost my mind.
It's true that I've spent much of the last three months wondering aloud about the time space continuum, so I can understand why my husband -- let's call him "Andrew" since that's his name -- is trying to have me committed. (Though I do suspect he's also motivated by a desire to control the remote during The Bachelor.)
Regardless, I am confident that once you hear my case, you'll relate and perhaps even walk away excited by some pretty radical theories. Perhaps you'll suggest that I turn this defense into a TED lecture, so I get very very famous. I smell a Nobel!
Anyway, some background: I grew up the Upper West Side during Dinkins' magically anarchistic reign, long before the neighborhood was renamed Might-As-Well-Be-Westchester and the Lululemon uniform was enforced.
In those days, Brooklyn was where my grandparents owned a red brick row house with a cherry tree out back. It was where my friends with divorced parents lived half the time, where Saint Ann's students commuted for school. It was "Crooklyn."
"Now Brooklyn is the new Upper Left," our 30-something peers swore, as Andrew and I toyed with the idea of coming back east. Duly informed, we kissed our avocado tree, almond milk smoothies and spectacular movie theaters in L.A. goodbye and drove toward these things called "seasons." Or so we thought.
As soon as we arrived in Park Slope, I knew something was amiss. First, we came across a "traditional" Italian ices shop, but instead of selling the four classics (chocolate, lemon, cherry and rainbow), the menu included flavors like cappuccino, horchata and mango. In place of a Tasti D-Lite down the street sat an artisanal homemade Greek yogurt shop called Culture. And, instead of withholding a questionable ingredient list, wall signs waxed poetic about the health benefits of probiotics.
It got weirder from there and, over the next few days, I began to suspect that we'd somehow ended up in Portland instead of New York. Perhaps Portland had come to us.
In a desperate attempt to quell my conspiracy theories, Andrew dragged me to famous bread haven Bergen Bagels last week. While I hunted for clues, he ordered me an "everything" to go. I took one bite and knew they couldn't possibly make bagels that good in the Pacific Northwest. But that was before I spotted tofu cream cheese in four different flavors. Please. Hello, Portland.
For the board's benefit, I took the liberty of compiling a comparative list based on 16 straight hours of Portlandia viewing, during which I laughed out loud a total of three times (once during a Snickers commercial). Here are some concrete examples:
- There is a vegan bakery on my corner, where cashiers sport knitted skull caps and nerd glasses. (Don't tell me they're New York hipsters. They don't even have mustaches.)
- Portland's staple Stumptown coffee is everywhere.
- The delicious chicken wings from Thai restaurant Pok Pok, my primary reason for revisiting the actual Portland, are now available here.
- Park Slope's farm-to-table and sea-to-skillet restaurants regularly run out of food before the evening is out, claiming they have only limited ingredients bought fresh that day. People do not riot or curse them out.
- Faced with a 90-minute wait for one such eatery, hungry diners -- supposed New Yorkers -- sigh calmly and pledge to come earlier next time instead of telling the hostess where she can shove her crispy kale chips.
- People eat at 6 pm.
- During Christmas, carollers crowd on corners singing, irony-free.
- The winter is warm and rainy.
- There are 800 gourmet pet stores that want me to feed my cats organic peas.
- Your beer better be craft brew.
- In my well-maintained (what?!) brownstone building, the tenants are all friends. They smile at us in the halls and invite us to bi-monthly 'Sunday Night Dinners." They make wine in the basement and grow herb gardens on the roof.
- There are local talent shows at nearby "lounges."
- Everyone works at the local Food Co-op because the produce is more organic and because they aspire to raise their own grass-fed chickens, but haven't yet found space for a coop. Never mind that chickens don't eat grass. (A faction at said Co-op is also trying to ban all Israeli imported goods. Why am I tempted to walk in and ask for the matzo aisle?)
- Former members of the community garden collective down the street left after too much "lettuce drama."
- Despite all this righteousness, people still allow their dogs to shit on the sidewalk without scooping it up. (Let the record show: That is NOT in fact composting.)
- Neighbors leave clothing hanging out on the street and call it a "yard sale."
- People actually TAKE that clothing.
- Almost fascistic recycling rules outnumber the commandments and are way more important.
- My landlord actually fixes things.
- No one wears makeup.
Need I go on?
Let me address a few apparent inconsistencies that might detract from my argument: Bird boutique around the corner stocks Rag & Bone booties instead of Crocs. But they also sell clogs decorated in woven fabric. What could be more Portland than clogs?
Down the street, the guy behind the counter at Prime Meats Italian butcher does in fact greet customers by saying, "How can I help youse?" Clearly, he took the family business and his accent out west. Good for him!
Not long ago, a slightly unhinged man carrying multiple shopping bags slammed into me on the street. Though he'd been monopolizing three quarters of the sidewalk, he swiveled around and screamed, "What's your fucking problem?" Now, I know that seems very New York, but perhaps the crazy people in Portland get angry too? (I'm sure he would have come to his senses had he done a stint at your fine facility.)
Hopefully, by now I've amply convinced you, the board, that I am right in the head; that this is not in fact Park Slope, but Portland instead. (Also, women should not work and college is bad. Right, Rick?)
However, if any doubt remains, in closing I'd like to pose one single question: Would the Beastie Boys really have shouted "No sleep!" en route to buy fair trade brie?
I rest my case. Thank you very much for your time.
BTW: Does that straitjacket come in neon? That's really much more this season.
Follow Nora Zelevansky on Twitter: www.twitter.com/missnoraz