1) IN NE: You exchange the phrase, “We should get together” at least 5 times—can be as many as 10 times—before you make concrete plans with somebody.
IN NY: If you hit it off with somebody, you whip out your business card, she whips out hers (even if you’re a stay-at-home parent in NY, you have a card), and you pull out your e-planners to see when in 5 weeks you might have a 2-hour block free.
2) IN NE: If you’re invited to someone’s house, you offer, “Can I bring something?” The host says “No, just bring your lovely self.” You’ll bring something anyway and your host knows you’ll bring something anyway.
IN NY: If you offer to bring something, the host usually says, “Sure.” That’s it—host tends not to ask any more questions (and has already hung up and is talking to somebody else.)
3) IN NE: You bring a platter of, let’s say, coffee cake. The host doesn’t put it out, because that would be gauche. She does, however, transfer your coffee cake onto one of her own plates and hands you back your platter, having washed and dried it immediately. (Same is true of flowers. If you bring flowers, the host will say “How nice! Thank you!” and immediately put them into a vase with water, but will put them to the side, never on the display table. Again, gauche. She has her own bouquet of flowers already.
IN NY: Your coffee cake not only gets put out, it will likely stay in its original container. Even if you purchased the cake (likely in NY), it will be put out in the bakery box.
4) IN NE: Potlucks are common.
IN NY: Potlucks are rare, unless the host recently moved from somewhere up North or somewhere down South and hasn’t yet learned that nobody knows what potluck means here.
5) IN NE: When you think of a catered event, you think Wedding.
IN NY: Everything from children’s birthday parties to BBQs are catered.
6) IN NE: The host spends a good 3 days preparing for a dinner, cleaning, cooking, and preparing everything from scratch (i.e. No brownies-from-a-mix; brownies are made with real ingredients like cocoa.)
IN NY: Host may just be coming back from a run or a tennis game or a weekend in the Hamptons when you get there, so she excuses herself to go shower while you sit and admire the botanical prints. Host’s house may be in disarray but this is all part of the blasé NY scene. It’s not uncommon for host to run out “to grab a couple things” after you’ve already arrived.
7) IN NE: If host has help, the help has usually been dismissed long before anybody’s arrived.
IN NY: Host typically has help before, during and after event. Help is likely to open the door for you. (Even a sitter is more apt to respond to the doorbell than a host). I once went on a playdate where there was an au pair, babysitter, housecleaner and handyman hanging curtains, all at the same time.
8) IN NE: Visits typically last no more than 1 ½ hours.
IN NY: Time with a person can last entire days, depending on the situation. Sometimes you’ll chat with your friend at Starbucks that morning, meet them at noon for lunch with another mutual friend, then see that friend, the mutual friend and 10 other people at bookclub that night.
9) IN NE: You always end the visit by saying, “Thanks so much for having us, we had the best time,” even if you had the worst time.
IN NY: You sometimes don’t know if a visit has ended or whether the host got some pressing business in another room somewhere. (Exception is children’s birthday parties that typically don’t last more than 1 ½ hours. NY kids have things to do.) Sometimes the host’s next guests arrive but you’re not sure whether those guests are part of your event and just a couple hours late, or whether they’re here for a different event entirely.
10) IN NE: When a friend has a baby, moves into a new house, is sick, suffered a loss, or has some other tragedy going on, people set up a meal train.
IN NY: Like potlucks, nobody knows what a meal train is. I once set up a meal train for a co-worker going through chemo. My officemates, though eager to help, asked questions like, “You’ll be giving me a recipe for the day I signed up for?” and “What restaurants does Suze like so I can pickup some takeout?”
11) IN NE: Sitter gets the afternoon off during a playdate.
IN NY: Sitter accompanies to the playdate. Awkward as it may seem to have a mute stranger lurking in the corner listening in on your every word, you get used to it, like so many things in the great Empire State.
12) IN NE: Topic that’s off limits = money.
IN NY: Topic most frequently discussed = money.