Photo: Robert Martinez

1. You know what “Lake Effect” means.

Bundle up, that’s what.

2. You’ll always think Channel 11 is the best public access channel ever.

You learned to cook with the Frugal Gourmet, listened to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and first fell in love with Siskel & Ebert and their movie reviews watching WTTW.

3. You know the Empire Carpet jingle by heart.

Sing it with me: 800-588-2300 EMPIRE!

4. Coach Ditka and The Bears are your religion.

You still listen to the Super Bowl Shuffle and routinely chant, “Daaaaa Bears Da Bears Da Bears Da Bears!”

5. You still rep the reign of Jordan (rightfully so).

You outreach your arm, tongue wagging in the air for pictures, and break out your number 23 jersey to attend Bulls games (or to go anywhere in the city).

6. For you, LSD isn’t just a psychedelic drug.

Lake Shore Drive (LSD for short) is one of the prettiest inner-city drives in the country. Traffic can be a nightmare, but it doesn’t bother you because you have front row seats to the number one thing that makes your city so great: Lake Michigan.

7. You’ve left the house bundled up looking like Randy from A Christmas Story.

After Tom Skilling issued the warning for impending sub-zero temperatures, you’ve left the house wearing a minimum of 3 layers including a snowsuit, mittens, and face mask.

8. You’d never dare put ketchup on your hotdog.

All Chicagoans know that their hotdogs are to only be comprised of the following: An all-beef dog on a poppy seed bun topped with tomato slices, white onions, relish, a pickle spear, sports peppers, celery salt, and mustard. It’s a cardinal sin to even consider reaching for the ketchup. Chances are you tried to once, but a hardcore Chicagoan slapped your hand away from the bottle.

9. Even though Brookfield Zoo is bigger, you know Lincoln Park Zoo is better.

Although Brookfield is more “fancy,” you prefer Lincoln Park Zoo to the hoity-toity suburbanite zoo any day. You appreciate that Lincoln Park Zoo is right near the lake in the city, and best of all, it’s free!

10. The “El” isn’t just a letter in the alphabet.

You’ve never had a problem getting where you need to go in Chicago because you’ve always relied on the El. Every local knows that the “El” stands for Chicago Transit Authority’s elevated rail system, but that’s too much of a mouthful. “I’m gonna take da El down to Chinatown for some of dat der Dim Sum.”

11. You’ve attended The Taste every year.

Nothing stands between the crowd of a million plus people and your love for a barbecued turkey leg. The Taste of Chicago has always been and always will be a staple of your summer festival schedule.

12. You grew up vacationing in Wisconsin Dells.

You remember going up to The Dells before it was the waterpark capital of the world. You probably stayed at Old Newport in a modest little cabin and rented a boat to explore the upper and lower Dells’ rock formation beauty. And you’ve most definitely ridden the Wisconsin Ducks.

13. You still call it Sears Tower.

You absolutely refuse to call Willis Tower by its new name and still refer to it as Sears Tower.

14. You know who the hell Svengoolie is.

You eagerly look forward to Svengoolie and his top hat-makeup-wearing shenanigans on television. His low-budget hosted horror movie program is chock-full of corny jokes, commentary, and trivia. You can’t get enough of his ghoulish getup any time of year, and you just can’t pass up another viewing of The Brides of Dracula.

15. You or someone you know has a cottage in Michigan “on the lake.”

As soon as the weather turns nice, you’re planning a getaway to your cottage for a weekend of grilling out, boating, wave running, and bonfires.

16. You know some of the best food is slung from Mexican pushcarts.

Tacos, tamales, corn, chicharrones, Mexican cokes, frozen chocolate-covered bananas: the treats found from a Mexican pushcart are endless. Usually while relaxing on Oak Street Beach you hear the familiar sound of bells jingling. Like a Pavlovian dog, you immediately begin to salivate, dig for your wallet, and chase down the pushcart for some Mexican treats.

17. You’ve learned to accept that there are two seasons in Chicago: Winter and Construction.

Construction is nearly constant in the spring and summer months. With pothole damage caused from long, hard winters, road construction easily sets back your commute 30 minutes to an hour every day.

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