We’ve lived in South Philly all our lives. In this row home for 54 years. But we’re about to move to Center City. I know. I know. We’re joining the enemy. Most South Philly people hate Center City. You know how they see my move? Like we were in the middle of the Civil War and Robert E. Lee decided to move to Vermont. It’s like Frank Rizzo moved from Rosewood Street (oh, wait. He DID when he was a toddler).
South Philly people, I know that you will never forgive me or my wife. Uncle Nunzi is having a stroke (I told him if he has a stroke, blame the cured meats, not our move). There’s only one place you’re allowed to move if you have to move out of South Philly. South Jersey. South Jersey is considered South Philly with grass. Moving to South Jersey is aspirational for many South Philadelphians. South Jersey is supposed to be our utopia. Yeah, the property taxes are high, but South Jersey is utopia we’re talking about here.
Let’s talk about South Jersey, please. I don’t consider a grass yard in front and back a big advantage. Sorry. I see grass, I see work. Like cutting the grass. Not fun in my world. The funny thing is, many South Philadelphians don’t seem to like grass UNTIL they move to South Jersey. Ever notice that when these same folks lived in South Philly, they poured concrete over every piece of grass on their property. Oh, there are a few exceptions. They’re usually wealthier folks who can afford to get somebody else to cut the grass for them. Otherwise, if you’re standing on grass in South Philly, you’d better move because there’s certain to be a cement truck heading your way. These very same people move to South Jersey and they’re suddenly in love with greenery. They’re out there on weekends with their lawn mowers humming. Waving to their neighbors, shouting, “We got grass!” ( A dozen people seeking weed show up). Other than cutting their grass on weekends, what do these South Philadelphia transplants do on weekends? They come to South Philly to buy their meats and loaves of bread. For culture, they go to the mall and hang out in BED BATH & BEYOND. Know what my favorite song about Jersey is? — John Gorka’s I’M FROM NEW JERSEY — I DON’T EXPECT MUCH.
But hey, moving to Center City is considered “uppity,” right? A bit snooty. Too liberal. What now, you’re going to hang a poster of Bernie Sanders in your living room? Lead protests around City Hall? Say nice things about socialism? There’s nothing in Center City that anybody from South Philly is ever supposed to desire other than the statue of Frank Rizzo. And, how about the parking up there?
You’re moving to where? Center freakin’ City? Where the hell are you gonna park? You’re probably going to ride a bike, right? You’re one of these people who wants more bike lanes, is that it? Actually, I don’t own a car or ride a bike. I’m the human equivalent of a dinosaur in the English language — I’m a pedestrian. Remember those? There’s still a few of us around. You remember what’s it like to walk, right? You put one foot in front of the other. You might have to have your shoes repaired once in a while. Walking is where you don’t get to put your fat ass in a car to go get a haircut.
Speaking of haircuts, notice none of the transplanted South Philadelphians ever go to a barber or a beautician in South Jersey. They all head back to the city to get their hair cut. If you’re a barber or beautician in South Jersey, you might as well be unemployed. Being a barber or a beautician is not recognized as a legitimate occupation in South Jersey. You might as well have your mother or your wife put a bowl on your head and cut your hair.
For some reason, historical sites and museums tend not to fascinate many South Philadelphians. In fact, culture of any sort that doesn’t include the word food in it generates apathy. You’re moving to Center City? Whaddya, one of those culture freaks? You need to live next door to museums? No, what we are is old — we need to live where there are no steps. This is not a move designed to get us closer to the paintings of Manet. Nor is it an ideological move based on our politics. Or a cry for diversity. What it is is a move to a one-floor apartment in order to save both of us from knee replacement surgery. The Rothman Clinic might be nearby, but surgeons, don’t hold your breath. We both want just enough cartilage to walk to Trader Joe’s and back. And as for us shopping at Trader Joe’s, please don’t start.
I know you’re not fond of Trader Joe’s, dear South Philly friends. But it’s not the organic kale chips that we’re after. We favor their decaf coffee and those bangers that drip cheese when you put them in the microwave. Believe me, we’re not deserting DAD’S for plastic-wrapped meat or, for that matter, my very favorite ACME at 19th and Oregon. Hey, folks, I got news — the buses run both ways.
Wish us well.