Sunday, April 24, 2005

Toronto Looks Nothing Like New York

So, my blue-state pal, you were really angry about the last election, weren't you? Emailed that famous "United States of Canada/Jesusland" map to everyone you knew. Even logged on to the Canadian immigration site, just to check it out.

And you think, hmmm, maybe Toronto. Yes, Toronto. Aren't they always using that city as a substitute for too-expensive New York movie shoots? So it must be like New York, only better, because you don't have to worry about those goons in Washington.

Listen to the Siren, my dears. Toronto isn't New York. It isn't even Great Neck.

I moved here in October 2004. I am a proud liberal Democrat, but there was nothing ideological about going to Canada. I moved for money, and for a girl. I didn't get that much money, and the girl (and the boy--my children) didn't get much, either.

Admittedly, I was in New York before, and New York is the greatest city in the world. Just about anything short of Paris was bound to seem like I'd moved to Boise. But the longer I stay here, the more I cannot believe anyone ever uses Toronto as a New York substitute in the movies. It's like filming Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Va., and hoping a few judicious edits will make it look like Chartres.

I am horribly, achingly homesick. Toronto and I aren't getting along. Toronto and I are barely on speaking terms.

I try to stay positive. That is difficult for me. I am a Capricorn. Capricorn isn't a sunny-side-up kind of sun sign. Richard Nixon was a Capricorn. So was Al Capone. Even real (as opposed to Self-Styled) Capricorn sirens such as Marlene Dietrich and Ava Gardner weren't particularly perky. Hedonists, yes. Optimists, no.

Anyway, here I am. Circumstances dictate that here I stay for a while. So here is a short list of things the Siren likes about Toronto:

1. The Canadian postal service kicks the stuffing out of the USPS. It is more expensive, but having things arrive as they should and being waited on by polite human beings is worth the added cost.

2. Toronto is the most wheelchair-accessible city I have ever seen. New York isn't that bad, but Toronto is stellar. I am among the temporarily able-bodied, but for the disabled, sometimes all it takes is one step to prevent them from entering a place. That Canadians have taken such care to eliminate these obstacles speaks very, very well for them.

3. The shop assistants are, by and large, incredibly polite.

4. There are a lot of parks.

5. Canadians are generally too polite to bring up George Bush. So you don't have to explain, as you do in Europe, that you wouldn't vote for the man on a bet.

6. I don't mind the weather. Self-Styled Sirens are above caring about the weather, except insofar as it prevents us from wearing attractive shoes.

I hope to post more things to like about Toronto as soon as I discover them. Any day now, I'm sure.