Humor by Jen Lancaster

Last week Chicago gangs held a press conference to express their displeasure at being targeted by law local enforcement.

Worth noting is that this event did not follow a press conference held by residents expressing displeasure at being targeted by local gangs.

Apparently gang members feel they're being unfairly harassed by the police, whereas law enforcement feels gangs should stop selling drugs and shooting people. Currently both sides are using the media to cast aspersions on the other team.

Failing to find middle ground, the situation has devolved into an increasingly snarky he said/she said war of social media soundbites. If this keeps up, they're totally going to unfollow each other on Twitter and block one another on Facebook.

The whole conflagration supports my decision to leave Chicago and move to the suburbs. I've been nothing short of delighted with this choice, yet I'm finding that city habits die hard.

In an urban environment, spotting a stranger in one's backyard is a clear and present source of danger. The appropriate reaction -- at least in my household -- has been to chase said trespasser away with the business-end of a shovel.

However, I've since learned that waving a D-handle spade is not the best way to introduce oneself to the kid who mows the lawn. (On a related note, I suspect this is why my young landscaper didn't properly weed-whack the edge of my patio.)

In the city, people constantly solicit on the street. Although I respect the entrepreneurial spirit expressed by those peddling soccer balls and tube socks in the intersection, I need neither. I have little patience for the guys attempting to squirt dubious liquids on my windshield and even less for those offering no services in exchange for my cash. Anyone living in a metropolitan area quickly learns to say no while avoiding eye contact.

So, when approached at the suburban grocery store by a group of girls in full cheerleading regalia, my ingrained response was to keep walking. Then I remembered the shovel incident and I forced myself stop and listen.

"Corn rows?" they queried in unison, to which I replied, "I'm sorry?"

"Corn rows?" they repeated. "Corn rows? We're doing corn rows for poms?" In typical teenage girl fashion, they ended every statement with a question mark.

"Wait, what?" I asked. "You want to braid my hair?" My response confused them, which then confused me and led to the kind of protracted misunderstanding best resolved by a press conference . . . or someone pointing to the barbecue spit where the Pom Booster Club was selling ears of corn.

Oh, corn roast. That makes a lot more sense. (And is delicious.)

Cultural misunderstandings aside, the biggest change has been getting used to all this nature around me. In terms of wildlife, the city has nothing on the 'burbs. The notion of urban critters makes me want to tuck my pant-legs into my socks, whereas the woodland creatures up here are practically Disneyesque. So far I've seen chipmunks, hummingbirds, hawks, a couple of cranes and a wild turkey. I'm told raccoons will get into my garbage if I'm not careful, yet I'm confident none is doing so to steal my identity.

The thing is, I've learned that almost hitting a white-tailed deer in my driveway produces the exact same rush of terror-adrenaline as almost hitting a crackhead in my alley, so perhaps things aren't so different between the two places after all. Regardless, I'm happy to be in a more rural setting, far away from the gangs and their microphones and publicists.

But should these groups of toughs choose to migrate north, be advised I still swing a mean shovel.

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