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A Second Helping of Cities Personified

I swear I wasn’t planning to milk this cities-as-lovers thing for two weeks in a row. I was planning an original post, writing it in my head a little bit as I took the elevator to my dentist’s eighth-floor office for what was supposed to be a routine semiannual cleaning. While in the dentist’s chair, though, wearing my stylish yellow bib, I mentioned casually that my left lower molar had given me a sharp twinge the day before while I was drinking some Lebanese iced tea at Mona’s.

And now, six hours later, having undergone an emergency root canal for an abscessed tooth (which is just so disgusting I can’t even deal with it), I have a throbbing jaw; a belly full of Ensure, Percocet and amoxicillin; and really no will to do anything beyond lie on the sofa while whining and re-reading Tiger Eyes for the 53rd time. I can be stoic about some things, but when it comes to my mouth, I am the world’s biggest baby.

So please forgive me for outsourcing this yet again, but I hope you will enjoy this international edition. As I said last week, I recently asked my Facebook friends to personify their own hometowns as lovers.

Erin on Simcoe, Ontario: “Simcoe's a simple farm boy full of muscles and tanned due to years of hard work in the field. He never knows what all the fuss is about. He won't take you to a 5-star restaurant, but will serenade you with his guitar around the campfire. He plays hockey with all his buddies every Wednesday night. He's loyal and isn't afraid to throw down against those that wrong his loved ones. Even if you don't end up with him, you'll always remember him fondly and wonder what might have been if you'd stayed.”

Laurel on Penang, Malaysia: “Penang made a horrible first impression. He showed up half an hour late, his shirt rumpled and buttoned cockeyed, and he shuffled from a recent blowout on his thongs. And, OMG, was that BO? How did my friends set me up with this guy? Far from the dashing, exotic islander I had imagined. But I climbed on the back of his scooter anyway, and we were off. As the evening progressed, I admit I started to warm up to him. He seemed so experienced (he was a bit older than I had expected), so connected and confident as he navigated his neighborhood of winding and one-way streets with difficult to pronounce names. He knew everyone, and waved to friends as we slipped around stand-still traffic. We stayed out late, much later than I typically do, but just relaxed eating and chatting. When he invited me to spend the night with him, no pressure, I accepted. We awoke to the call to prayer, had kopi and ate (again! No wonder he's a bit pudgy) in the cool sunlit morning, then spent a lazy Saturday afternoon under the ceiling fan. A year later, we were living together. Sure, he's never on time and his butt crack shows as he hunches over his scooter handles, but his old-world charm has won me over. After all, the man can cook, lah!”

John on Shanghai: “Shanghai's either the kindest woman you've ever met, or the cruelest bitch. Every morning you awake not knowing which you'll roll over to meet, but you don't care – you're just happy she's in your bed. She has expensive tastes, and you'd better be paying. You know she's just biding her time, and will eventually dump you for someone in a nice suit and a black Audi, but until then … let's face it, she's out of your league, and you can't do any better. She can be shockingly immature, and when she's angry she's violent. She has powerful friends – they think she's a whore and she thinks they're bumpkins  but you'd better not screw with her or you'll find out just how powerful they are. You know that you shouldn't put up with her, but you can't help yourself. If you're lucky, if you put up with the petulance and the fits of rage, you can catch her softer side, the girl who likes long strolls down tree-lined boulevards and drinks on the patio, but the longer you know her the more fleeting those moments seem. You know you'll regret breaking up with her for the rest of your life, that you'll forever miss the energy she brought to your life. She'll hardly even notice you're gone.”

As always, please feel free to play along in the comments. I am going back to my couch-nest and my regularly scheduled Percocets now, perhaps supplemented with a pint of Haagen-Dazs eaten straight from the carton because I am feeling sorry for myself. I hope you all have the very loveliest of Labor Days.  

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