Eight ways to tell New York from Los Angeles from London

ONE: When it rains in New York, the cabs all disappear. You'd think they were made of brown sugar. They simply melt into thin air. When it rains in Los Angeles, all the gas stations close down as if in observance of a solemn occasion. In L.A., if you run out of gas on a rainy day, you're in big trouble.

It's always raining in London.

TWO: On the first day of spring, New Yorkers, known for their urban stoic indifference, break into song, hug total strangers, join in a celebration of the survival of yet another winter.

On the first day of spring, people in Los Angeles go to the beach. The same as they did the day before.

On the first day of spring, Londoners notice through the rain that the crocuses have arrived.

THREE: On Christmas Eve, New Yorkers huddle around cozy fireplaces in Connecticut and sing carols.

On Christmas Eve, people in Los Angeles go to the movies.

On Christmas Eve, Londoners huddle under umbrellas and sing carols at St. Martin- in-the-Fields, until they hymn books get too soggy. Then they go inside.

FOUR: For fun, New Yorkers go to French films, eat Italian food, jog in German running shoes through Central Park.

For fun, people in Los Angeles go to work. It provides a pleasant change from the daily routine of discos, roller skating, tanning and self-improvement classes.

For fun, Londoners slosh through the countryside in galoshes, making brass rubbings in the old churches until the rain gets the paper too wet. Then they go have tea.

FIVE: New York definition of work: Whatever you have to do to pay the rent, buy the food, keep body and soul together.

Los Angeles definition of work: Could you repeat the question?

London definition of work: A glorious way to stay out of the rain for eight hours unless you work outside, in which case work is the reason you go home at night -- to dry off.

SIX: Typical New York behavior is so survival-oriented it's strikingly similar to aggressiveness.

Typical Los Angeles behavior is so laid back it's prone to be mistaken for laziness.

Typical London behavior is curt but polite and mistaken for soggy only because the Londoner is always wet.

SEVEN: New Yorkers argue about the sinking values of our culture.

People in Los Angeles don't argue. They confront their feelings, explore their motivations and then resolve to include more roughage in their diets.

Londoners argue about the rising cost of living.

EIGHT: New Yorkers love London, hate L.A. and go there all the time to confirm their feelings.

People from Los Angeles love London and New York equally, but never leave L.A. unless they go to Palm Springs.

Londoners love L.A., hate New York and go there all the time to confirm their feelings.

There is only one place on Earth that people from Los Angeles do not like. And that is San Francisco. But that is another essay.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.