After 20 years of residence in Minneapolis’ Fulton neighborhood, comfortably tucked in between Lake Harriet and Edina, I have a new address. According to the perky news folks at most of our local TV stations, I now live in “The Metro.”
What used to be the Twin Cities, or Minneapolis, or St. Paul, or even southwest suburbs is now a very homogenized “The Metro.”
And even though it kind of bugs me every time they do a teaser, like “House collapses on metro man,” or “Property taxes rise in the metro,” there is a benefit: It shortens up the news coverage to make more room for the happy talk. Count it out. “Metro” only has two syllables, compared to the four in “Minnetonka,” or “Inver Grove Heights.” And don’t even try to figure out how long it would take to say, “Southwest Minneapolis” (seven syllables, for those of you who insist on counting anyway) or “Kingfield neighborhood” (a respectable five). I guess all those saved syllables frees up more airspace for the news folks to chit chat about their socks or what they think about State Fair food.
But living in The Metro can be disorienting. The other day my teenage son burst into the kitchen to let me know that (more) snow was coming our way. “When will it start? I asked, looking out my window at a cloudless blue sky. “The weather guy said it’s in The Metro now,” he responded, grabbing his coat and hat to start shoveling. I meandered into the TV room, only to see on the radar blip that the major snow was clipping the edge of the far Northern suburbs, nowhere near us and likely to stay north, but yes, in “The Metro.”
I think I know what’s going on here. We aren’t comfortable calling ourselves “city” and “suburb,” even though most of us make very conscious decisions to live in one or the other. And most of us are proud of our towns or neighborhoods and make very clear distinctions. Do Linden Hills folks know exactly where they end and Fulton begins? Absolutely. Can you get higher-class junk at the Excelsior garage sale than you can find at the Armatage sale? Duh. Don’t ask me about Brooklyn Park vs. Brooklyn Center. I’m sure there’s a difference, but I’d be happy calling the duo the ”Chupatzville Metro,” which is Yiddish for “town with no sidewalks.”
Just in case I’m not the only one who cringes at the overuse of “metro,” I thought I’d better come up with a better solution. If actual city and suburb names are too troublesome, how about “conurbation.” The headline tease could be, “Young men flock to conurbation festival.” Oh, maybe that would make some of the anchor ladies blush. Okay, how about “Minneapolisland”? Wait, that leaves out St. Paul. How about “Land-of-lakes”? No, that’s already taken.
I’ll have to ponder this some more, but not right now. It’s not snowing, so I’m going to take my dog to a Metro park.
Nora Leven is a freelance writer and focus group moderator. She lives in The Metro.