Having officially been a resident of New York City for a little over five months, and as I begin my second week into my new life as a married man, now seems a good time to list some of the notable differences between Salt Lake City, Utah, and here — my old hometown and my new one, separated by almost 2,200 miles of highways.
- Many New Yorkers think Utah is either in the South or on the West Coast; it’s neither, located rather in the Mountain West. Many Utahns share Woody Allen’s view of NYC from Annie Hall: “Don’t you see the rest of the country looks upon New York like we’re left-wing, communist, Jewish, homosexual pornographers? I think of us that way sometimes and I live here.”
- In Utah, chubs are considered a trash fish; in New York, they’re a delicatessen delicacy (a “delicatessy,” if you will).
- Utah has mountains; New York City has skyscrapers. What New Yorkers think of as mountains are really just hills; what Salt Lakers think of as skyscrapers are just buildings with failed ambitions.
- SLC has a magnificent library system, with plentiful and comfortable local branches and convenient hours; NYC has largely nondescript places where you can check out books from one o’clock to six on Mondays and Thursdays, one to eight on Tuesdays, ten to six on Wednesdays and Fridays, eleven to three on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays.
- In NYC you get pizza by the slice; in SLC, you get Pizza Hut or Domino’s.
- Soda refills are pretty much automatic in SLC restaurants: you finish your drink, and another one magically appears. In New York, more often than not, once you empty your glass, it’s removed — never to be seen again.
- There are more Joes and Moes per capita in SLC than in NYC. Conversely, I’ve met not a single LaVel nor LeGrand since I moved to NYC.
- Since NYC is truly the center of the universe, why can’t we make a right-hand turn on a red light (the mark of a truly civilized civilization)?
- Parking in SLC is at a surplus, whereas finding a parking spot in NYC can be as challenging as Sinbad’s seventh voyage.
- In NYC, the motorists conform to the traffic; in SLC, the traffic conforms to the motorists, many who see themselves as self-appointed traffic cops determined to make sure everybody else abides by the laws as they interpret them. (For instance, a motorist encountering a double-parked car in NYC simply maneuvers around it; in SLC, the motorist would pull up behind the offending car and honk until it’s moved.)
- Rainstorms in NYC start and stop as if with the flip of a switch; in SLC, storms announce themselves slowly, easing their way in and out of the valley.
- Kissing hello and good-bye abounds in NYC; not so in SLC, where a handshake and, on a good day, a hug suffices.
- Just as there are more Mormons than Jews in SLC, there are more Jews than Mormons in NYC. Ironically, the most popular question I receive from new acquaintances in either city remains the same: “Are you a Mormon?” And I’m still considered a gentile in either locale.
All of which is to say, both cities are fine in their own unique ways. But New York City — and what it represents to our country, if not the world, and the arts — feeds my agnostic soul in a way that, no offense intended, Salt Lake didn’t. I’m glad to be a New Yorker.