Photo: Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock

How to Become a Chicagoan in 17 Easy Steps

Student Work
by Hank Mendheim May 14, 2015

1. Don’t say “The Windy City.” It’s an advertising moniker more than anything. Locals never use it. And “Chi-town” is out too.

2. Love the Cubs or love the Sox, but you can only choose one so choose carefully. There’s no going back and your loyalty to a Chicago baseball team, or lack thereof, is going to be taken seriously.

(And if you choose the Cubs, you have to love them even when they lose, which is a lot.)

3. Respect that Chicago is known for deep-dish pizza, but don’t eat it all the time. We don’t do that. When you do want the real deep dish experience though, go to Pequod’s or Burt’s.

4. Always order your hot dog “Chicago style.” It’ll come with yellow mustard, green relish, onions, tomato slices, pickles, sport peppers, and celery salt all served on a poppy seed bun. Don’t even think about asking for ketchup. And for the real deal, go to Gene and Jude’s in River Grove.

5. Lower Wacker Drive is your friend. You’ll hear people trash talk it, but a real Chicagoan knows if you want to get around town quickly, Lower Wacker is the key.

6. For football, love “Da Bears” and hate Green Bay. And know that everyone hates QB Jay Cutler, except for maybe his wife and kids.

7. Respect that Michael Jordan was, is, and forever will be a god. To consider him in any other light is a sacrilege to Chicagoans.

8. And D Rose is king, well, for the moment.

9. Kane, Toews, Sharp, Hossa, and Keith — know them, love them, they are the foundation of the Blackhawks.

10. Whenever you see one, buy a Bears, Bulls, Blackhawks and Cubs or Sox jersey. You’ll want to wear one to work on game day.

11. Avoid Navy Pier and the throngs and throngs of tourists there. Unless you want to see an IMAX film, then it’s acceptable to go and you just have to grin and bear it.

12. Always call that tall black building against the Chicago skyline the Sears Tower. You won’t ever hear locals call it the Willis Tower, even though that’s the building’s legal name.

13. When it comes to New York, you hate it. New Yorkers think they’re the best so they brag about it. Chicagoans know they’re the best, so no bragging necessary.

14. Call that elevated train that runs through the city the “L,” not the subway. It’s short for elevated train and Chicagoans love and hate it at the same time. You will too.

15. Don’t think you’re too good for the Wendella architecture boat tour. Locals love it. Take the spring and summer tour along the Chicago River — it’s the only way to truly appreciate the great architecture in our city.

16. In winter, call ‘dibs’ on the parking space in front of your home by placing a chair, table or other large object in the spot so no one else can take it. Yeah, it’s not legal, but in Chicago, who cares?

17. Spend every waking moment of summer outside soaking up the sunshine. Bike or jog along Lake Michigan. Have BBQs and picnics. Feel the warm air against your skin. It only lasts three months and you’ll be back to bitching about winter before you know it.

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