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Prompt 161: Suburbia - Pros & Cons
161. What are the top five benefits of living in a suburb? What are the top five drawbacks of living in such an area? Write a story in which your main character experiences a few of each over the course of one day living in the sequestered middle-class burbs.
Were I to follow this prompt faithfully, I imagine I'd come up with some "first world problems" satire. For some reason, a scene comes to mind from a film I've not seen in ages: that old Tom Selleck/Kevin Kline comedy, "In & Out." Klein plays a high school theater teacher, and his protege - now a Hollywood movie star - comes back to town to celebrate some award, and brings his girlfriend with him.
The movie star and his girlfriend check in at the small-town hotel. An urgent matter of some kind emerges, and the movie star tells his girlfriend to sit tight in their hotel room while he runs off. After a brief moment, the girlfriend panics and attempts to call her boyfriend using a rotary phone... Having never seen one before, she whines as she presses the numbers in vain.
In all seriousness, I think I've discussed my thoughts on city living versus suburban/small-town living already. In general, there are more people sharing less space when it comes to cities. The suburbs are for people who want to spread out, and waste their money. The primary positive off-shoot of suburban life is that of homogeneity. Everything is designed to be the same: the buildings, the housing developments, the people. If you want to keep your head down and blend in, then you have a good chance of doing that in the 'burbs.
You can be ignored in cities too. However, unless you're wealthy you're more likely to be a victim of property crimes or - in the worst case - physical violence. The crimes that occur in suburban locales are typically incel-related: violent white males striking out at their communities because they feel they're not receiving the attention they feel they deserve. Either that, or some pervert's sex slave escapes her confinement and he's finally busted by the cops.
You're under less scrutiny in the 'burbs. As long as you pay your bills and don't drink n' drive, local law enforcement will typically leave you alone. Men thrive in these environments, engineering their homes and lifestyles so that they are the main provider for their family, the woman in the couple forced to fulfill the stereotypical role of child-raiser and domestic servant.
Not being able to "keep a lid on" your domestic affairs in the 'burbs often results in the woman leaving the man, as she finds him intolerable and untrustworthy. If she wants to leave but can't - due to fear of physical violence or from a sense of duty to cultural mores or even just wanting to raise the kids in a big house, then she lives a life of quiet, constant desperation with little in the way of constructive outlets.
Probably the worst thing about living in the suburbs of major cities is that - since you're not in competition for space - you are in competition to fill that space you've been granted. Massive cars (the signature vehicle being the SUV)... In-ground pools... chemically-greened lawns... patios festooned with weather-resistant simulated-wicker furniture and propane grills... MAMILS ("middle-aged men in lycra/spandex," typically riding expensive bicycles, either alone or in packs)... outdoor flat-screen televisions on the deck... trampolines for the children... alcoholism.
The suburbs encourage you to stand out in some way. I'd say this is a cultural artifact of buying on credit, and the USA's reputation of being the Best at Everything for 50 of the last 80 or so years. Now that the US isn't the only Big Dog in terms of the global economy (China is nipping at its heels), the suburbs will change. Will those who willingly, enthusiastically participate in typical suburban life be equipped to adapt to such changes?