Photo: Samuel Borges Photography/Shutterstock

14 Things Chicagoans Always Have to Explain to Out-of-Towners

by Jill Meinecke Jul 27, 2015

1. You didn’t take the subway. You rode the El.

Dead giveaway that you’re not from around these parts? Bragging about the cool mix tape you picked up from an aspiring rapper while waiting for the subway. In Chicago we call it the “El” or the “L,” short for elevated rapid transit.

2. No, you can’t visit Oprah’s house.

She doesn’t even live in Chicago anymore, by the way. But if she did happen to keep a sky-rise condo at Water Tower Place just for “personal use,” you can bet you won’t clear security.

3. Chances are you won’t get shot.

What’s with everyone asking if they are going to get shot in Chicago? Sure, our gun crime is out of control and our murder rate is outrageous, but don’t count on becoming a statistic.

4. Don’t talk shit about The Bears, Jordan, The Blackhawks or Ditka.

Some out-of-towners get wise loudmouths after too much to drink. For the first and last time, don’t pick a fight about any of the aforementioned subjects. We still love to do the “Superbowl Shuffle” in our Air Jordans. Ditka is a god among men. The fact that the Blackhawks just won the Stanley Cup…again? Just nod along in agreement that Chicago is the best city ever for sports.

5. The winters really are “that bad.”

The images you’ve seen of people walking sideways into wind, epic snowstorm footage and below-freezing temps on the news are all real. We lived through the Lake Shore Drive snowstorm nightmare of 2011.

6. Yes, Lake Michigan’s water gets warm enough to swim in.

It might be only 3 months, but those are 3 glorious, glorious months. Rally the troupes, blow up the floaties and dust off the speedboat — Lake Michigan’s ready for our failed attempts at water skiing and drunken boat parties.

7. And yes, we actually have beaches.

It’s no Maui or anything, but Chicago’s beaches are actually pretty nice. Sparkling blue waters, toes in sand at Oak Street beach, and a cold chocolate-covered banana on a hot day is all we care about come summertime. Our selfies at the beach with the Chicago skyline behind us never get old, either.

8. Pull our arms and we’ll tell you where to find the best deep dish. But our first choice? Thin crust.

If we had our choice, we’d be eating thin crust from Vito & Nick’s on Pulaski; but, since you insist on the casserole-like behemoth that is deep-dish, we’ll book a table at Giordano’s for you.

9. We refer to our highways by name, not by number.

Stop confusing us by asking for directions using numbers. In Chicago, you take the Ryan, the Stevenson, the Eisenhower, the Kennedy, and the Edens or else you don’t get directions.

10. You really do have to choose only one: The Cubs or the White Sox.

But that’s easy. You’ll always choose the White Sox.

11. You don’t have to call it a night at 2am.

Classing it up at 4am at places like Clark St. Ale House in River North is always fun, but going divey at Ravens in Lincoln Park is an at-your-own-risk adventure filled with drunks passed out at the bar seat next to you.

12. No one calls it “Cloud Gate.” It’s the Bean.

The sculpture at Millennium Park is the perfect backdrop for photos. Even though its technical name is Cloud Gate, 9 out of 10 Chicagoans know it as the Bean. We may look like we’re in a rush, but we’re nice and will take your picture in front of it.

And by pop, we mean soda. Obviously.

14. The Signature Room is still the spot to show the love.

First dates, anniversaries, proposals, or a night out with close friends calls for a table at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building. Why? See those views of the city skyline lit up at night? It reminds us how lucky we are to call this incredible city home.

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