Our theme for the month of March is “cities.”
city slicker noun
1 : a city dweller who has found themself in a small town and feels distant from aspects of small town life, including but not limited to chatty shopkeepers, unusual types of grime or odors, and limited variety of goods and services
| I’ve lived in cities since I was 18—first in Michigan, now in Scotland. City life in Grand Rapids didn’t quite suit me by the end. It had far more green spaces—lawns, mostly—than where I live now, but that urban sprawl came at a cost. I lived on the outskirts of the city, a 40-minute walk from the nearest grocery store, linked to city life by a single bus line. Aberdeen, though gray and stony, is far more pedestrian-friendly. Just like in my hometown, I can walk to everything I need: the doctor’s office, the pharmacy, parks, schools, a bowling alley. Yet city life is louder, busier, dirtier—different dirt than the horse manure and dog food factory stench of my hometown. Those scents feel homely, cheerier than the city rot of gasoline and overflowing garbage bins and whatever the seagulls have found to devour. Still, when I go back to my hometown, I have to readjust to check-out clerks’ friendly questions about my day and encountering old acquaintances during evening walks. Life there doesn’t confuse me, but it’s no longer what I’m accustomed to. I’ve become a real city slicker.
2 : a town dweller in the company of farmers, ranchers, foresters, fishers, loggers, and all manner of rural professionals
| My high school friends mostly lived on farms and in smaller villages; not many lived in my hometown, where the school was. The population—and the number of fast food joints—was growing rapidly, and by some counts it was more of a small city than a large town. During spirit week every year, we’d have a “hick day” when everyone wore plaid and cowboy boots and farm kids drove their tractors to school. Those of us who could walk to school, the city slickers, didn’t have much to contribute.
3 : any person whose home is within shouting distance of another home
| I try not to carry conversations on the landings and stairs of my building, ’cause I know how much I can hear through my front door. Living in apartments—and even semi-detached houses, as I did in early childhood and college—entails some shared trust and tolerance of noise. There’s a limit to that tolerance, I’m sure, which leads me to my current city slicker problem: I’m planning a party, but I’m anxious about disturbing my neighbors.
synonyms : toonser (Scots), townie, urbanite
antonyms : hick, teuchter (Scots)
Formatting, pronunciation, and image adapted from Merriam-Webster.