Chicago is the best. Some born-and-bred Chicagoans have known this their entire lives and have been capitalizing on it since they came out of the womb (lucky bitches).
Unfortunately, it took me moving far too many times to figure this out, but thank the dear heavens I cracked the code before it was too late.
I love Chicago. It is arguably the greatest city in all of America.
Even so (and even though I could probably write a list of 100 people, places and things that make Chicagoans, happy, lucky and #blessed to live here), there are a few things that make Chicagoans cringe:
1. People who don’t wear coats in the winter
Here’s some insight for non-Chicagoans who, presumably, hold a misconception of Chicagoans about the weather: No, we don’t ever “get used to the cold.”
We might be slightly more tolerant than others, but we never get comfortable with the chill of Chiberia.
Our cold is different than anything you’ve ever experienced, unless you’re familiar with the feeling of 1 million daggers stabbing every part of your exposed skin, slicing and dicing you until your body’s chunks shrivel up and turn a shade of hypothermic blue.
When it's -16, it feels like -40 degrees outside. When our city is covered in a 3-foot sheet of ice, we are not used to the cold.
When the Sears Tower looks like Princess Elsa’s castle, WE ARE NOT USED TO THE COLD.
Real Chicagoans — people who have survived the Darkness known as November-through-March — hate people who claim otherwise.
The guy not wearing a coat is also probably the same jackass who “loves” doing the Polar Plunge and wears a wife beater during the summer.
2. People who call the Sears Tower the “Willis Tower”
…Umm, excuse me, no. You’re wrong.
3. People who say they’re “from Chicago,” but they’re from the suburbs
In self-defense, when you’re dealing with out-of-towners, this is acceptable because there's no chance they'll know where “Hinsdale” or “Woodridge” or “Northbrook” is.
This is why we tell our friends from different states we are “from Chicago.”
While it isn't an outright lie, it is a contextual one. But, again, this is only appropriate when you are far removed from Chicago.
Having grown up in a suburb and speaking this lie for years when living in different states, I only now know, after actually living in the city, it is no longer okay.
That is because, within Chicago alone, there are apparently 77 neighborhoods (according to Google).
So, lying to someone who lives in one of these neighborhoods could get your ass kicked if you’re in the wrong spot.
I now dislike suburbanites who say they live in Chicago. They’re lying and they should go home.
4. People who don’t choose between the Cubs or White Sox
I don’t like baseball. In fact, I hate it. I only go to the games to eat peanuts and drink beer.
Still, I would be a moron if I weren’t a “diehard baseball fan” in Chicago. I'm a diehard Cubs fan, one who has lived and breathed for the 23 years of my existence solely to see the Cubs win a World Series title.
In Chicago, you have to pick.
You have to adamantly support the Chicago Cubs, meaning you own at least one t-shirt with some inappropriate reference to Albert Pujols when he played on the Cardinals. You frequent your friend’s season tickets and claim Wrigleyville as your stomping grounds.
You also must believe THIS YEAR is THE year for the Cubs. (If you were unaware, the last time the Cubs won a World Series was 115 years ago.)
Or, you have to adamantly support the Chicago White Sox, meaning you are from the Southside, like your Bratwursts with caramelized onions, enjoy competitive baseball, love Steve Bartman and secretly hate the fact Comiskey Park was renamed the US Cellular in 2003.
You have to be diehard one way or the other, and if you’re not, pick. If you don’t have a preference, you don’t belong in Chicago, and you should probably move.
Being indifferent during Crosstown Classic each summer is basically as bad as being a Bears fan.
1. Perry’s Stage at Grant Park during Lollapalooza
Flower crowns are the bane of my existence. I kid you not, I truly do think wearing flower crowns is my biggest pet peeve ever.
Whereas the concept of the music festival once existed as a gathering of people who enjoyed like-minded music, at Perry’s Stage in Chicago’s Grant Park each August, it has turned into a clusterf*ck of high-waisted shorts and flower-crown-wearing 14-year-olds doing ecstasy in 80 degree heat.
(The probability is high that at least three-fourths of them have a pacifier, hula-hoop and/or flat Stanley. Everyone is also wearing crop tops.)
Let me clarify, I do enjoy Lollapalooza and have done one (or more) of these things in my many years of attending the three-day festival (and I still wear crop tops), but for the first weekend in August, Perry’s Stage is public enemy number one.
Mass crowds of tweens plus sweltering heat, overflowing Porta-Pottys and countless faux flower crows in one place is my personal hell.
2. The Chicago Taste
Stay away from this for the same reasons as above, except instead of wannabe hippie tweens, expect mass crowds of sweaty, obese people.
In July, more than 1 million (!!!) food-obsessed people converge in Grant Park.
This may sound epic, but once you get inside the gate and realize you are trapped in the hoards of food fanatics and ensuing Chicago stenches, your throat might start to close up.
It’s kind of like a Chuck E. Cheese birthday party; you pay money to get tickets to buy prizes.
In this case, the prize is large quantities food, and you wouldn’t believe how crazy some of these people get.
Again, the taste is great and Chicago food is fantastic, but I would love to eat Italian beef or a hot dog any day. Just not there, ever again.
3. Navy Pier
Navy Pier is kind of deceptive. Conceptually and aesthetically, it’s cool. It includes a ferris wheel against the stunningly beautiful backdrop of Lake Michigan, which always makes for a nice picture and/or scenic view for driving down Lakeshore Drive.
But, it’s super touristy and inundated with mediocre funnel cakes and long lines. It most certainly does not epitomize or represent Chicago in any way.
4. North Avenue Beach
What other place brings together the best of both worlds — the water and a badass city skyline — like Lake Michigan juxtaposed against Chicago’s skyscrapers?
However, it is the place to avoid during the summer, unless you’re into sharing beach towel space with 1,978 other people bumping Bone Thugs-n-Harmony from a boom box and sporting a portfolio of eclectic tattoos. (Large, leg-wrapping pythons are not off-limits. Japanese symbols, butterflies and short, inspirational quotes are encouraged.)
Plus, there is a huge deficiency of public restrooms, so everyone pees in the first three feet of the water. And, swimming in piss is gross.
1. Selfies at the Bean
I don’t know what’s more personally offensive, the fact that Chicago’s most infamous landmark is synonymous with the word “clitoris,” or that people take selfies in front of it.
Like, there are actually people who fly to Chicago just to take a selfie in front of reflective steel.
To be fair, it’s cool the first time, and the backdrop of the backdrop of these selfies — the Chicago skyline — is dope.
But, to anyone who hasn’t captured that ever-so-coveted Bean photo opp, let me just spare you a couple hundred bucks: It’s literally a giant silver bean. Buy a postcard.
2. New York-style pizza
Pizza’s great, but there’s something better: deep dish pizza. Deep dish pizza is basically a pizza pie oozing with cheese and sex.
If you’ve never eaten deep-dish pizza, come to Chicago. Or order one online. (Lou Malnati’s ships, I’m positive of this.)
So, when you’re in Chicago, do not order New York-style pizza. Just don’t. You will be disappointed and you will look stupid.
3. The L (especially in the summer and winter)
Overall, the L isn’t the worst form of public transportation in the world, especially when compared to my two other frames of reference: The subway in New York and the lack of infrastructure in Los Angeles.
However, it is still awful every season. But, especially so in the summer and winter, when bipolar Chicago weather is at its prime.
It’s terrible in the summer because it really sucks to spend the only daily personal time (during my commute to and from work) sandwiched between two armpits.
I cannot sit; I cannot stand; I cannot bend my knees. It is a sensation I can only imagine is similar to being a straitjacketed cow about to be made into veal.
To exacerbate the claustrophobia, the stench is a combination of rotting cheese, halitosis, stale smoke and greasy pores.
You know that phrase, “You are what you eat?” I would say after a two-stop commute on the L, it is more accurate to say, “You are what you stand next to on the train.”
It’s terrible during the winter due to only one factor: the L is above ground and the idiot who built Chicago’s public transportation had clearly never experienced Chiberia.
4. The accent
I’ll admit, I hate the sound of my voice. People who know me might attribute this to the low baritone pitch my voice makes or its gurgling, raspy sound. (I lost my voice when I was 14 and never got it back.) But no, I just despise my own Chicago accent.
And if we’re being real here, we all hate our notorious Chicago accents. But, the beauty of it is that we can’t help it, so we just roll with it.
Sometimes, just for fun, I’ll start fist-pumping and yelling, “Da Bears, Mike Ditka” (you know, a tribute to one of the only Bears’ coaches in history who hasn’t been a complete disgrace to the entire city… and a tribute to one of the most epic SNL skits of all time) on the streets.
Phonetically, it sounds more like this: “daaaaaah be-aayyyers. Mike ditkaaaaah,” a phrase that epitomizes a real, authentic Chicago accent, where a short "A" sound is held three times too long.
This is always a fun test because I am able to weed out the imposters and con artists from the real deals. Non-Chicagoans look at me like I’m an alien and shudder.
But, my people — my fellow Chicagoans — smile. They laugh. They respect me. And every now and then, I’ll get a fist-pump back and realize that I’m truly home.
Man, I faaaaacking love Chicaaaago.