Faux Pas Things that You DO NOT do in Chicago

Faux Pas Things that You DO NOT do in Chicago

Unless you have been seriously living in a bat cave or sleeping under a rock, you saw that Justin Bieber did the unthinkable in the Chicago Blackhawks locker room by standing on the team logo while getting a picture of the Stanley Cup and just recently apologized for it.  It really made Hawk fans boiling mad.  The whole “Bieber-gate” issue really made me think about all of the things that are considered faux pas in Chicago and should be avoided at all costs….or at least to avoid embarrassment.  As a non-native Chicago suburban resident, I asked for the help from Chicago natives that know better.  Lord knows that I have done some of these items on the list and may have pissed off someone in the process. (Oops! My bad!)

  1. The BIG one: Putting ketchup on a hot dog — especially a Chicago dog.  This is one that I have not been able to completely comprehend since I moved here in 2007. I am from Minnesota and have grown up being able to put ketchup on my hot dog whenever I pleased. This is one that I am not afraid to get ugly looks at.  Sorry!
  2. Saying Chi-town when referring to Chicago. This is one that really bothers some people.  I can admit that I used to say that, but I have decreased my usage the longer that I have lived here. You will be seeing a non-native and stick out like a sore thumb if you mention this. Definitely avoid this term at all costs….period!
  3. Expecting to see Oprah on the street while on Michigan Avenue. Okay, people. Get the fantasy of seeing the big “O” while out on the Mag Mile out of your head.  I have lived here for 6 years and still have not seen her. But I have had the awesome experience of sharing an elevator with Mr. Oprah aka Stedman while at work. (That’s for another article!)
  4. Talking like you’re from the Da’ Bears Saturday Night Live skit.  Okay, peeps! People from Chicago talk like normal people that are just from Chicago. ‘Nuf said.
  5. Not dressing for the normal cold, windy Chicago winters.  I am from Minnesota where it is much flipping colder than here and I know how to dress for winter. Some people just do not know how to dress for winter. This is why I appreciate and *heart* Thinsulate.
  6. Saying you live in Chicago when you live in the suburbs.  Chicago people are very touchy on this. If you live in the suburbs, say that you live in the suburbs. Do not say you live in Chicago…period. ‘Nuf said.
  7. Not knowing your “sides.” This is one I can completely relate to. It took me a whole year before I got my Chicago geography straightened out. There were times that I really got lost or did not know my way around and it drove my husband, a lifelong Chicago-area resident, NUTS….completely NUTS.  If you are a newbie, fine – give yourself time to get your way around. But after that, time to brush up on your Chicago geography or install a compass app on your phone.
  8. Calling Buckingham Fountain “The Bundy Fountain.”  Okay, I get it! It is an old “Married with Children” reference, but please let it go. Who the hell refers it to that?!  I don’t even refer it to that.
  9. Getting excited when you see Lou Malnatis.  Seriously, people?! Why?! No offense to the Chicago institution, but there’s OTHER FOOD that you can enjoy besides deep dish pizza.  Hell, there’s 100’s of different restaurants in Chicago that you can enjoy good quality food made by some great chefs. There are some of restaurants that I still have not tried that I am eager to do to.  This leads to the next one on the list….
  10. Not venturing OUTSIDE of the Loop for food, entertainment, etc.  Come on, people! Chicago is a very big city. Yes, the Loop is exciting and bright with the touristy stuff especially Navy Pier, but come on – live a little!! There are communities in Chicago that have awesome ethnic food. I have had some great Polish perogies at the Polish Fair. I had some great Mexican food in Pilsen.  I lived on Argyle Street in Uptown where I still miss Sunday morning Dim Sum and cheap dinner on Ba Mi’s.
  11. “Chicago is not a real city.”  *ahem* I do not freaking think so!  That’s all I am going say. Again…’Nuf said!
  12. Not using the correct pronunciations for some of the location points in Chicago. Here’s a lesson for non-natives: It’s “De-von” instead of “dev-in” and “Pa-line-uh” not “Paul-eena.” There is a long list that I could go on, but I am going to keep it short and sweet.
  13. Calling it “the train” instead of the “el.”  This is one that has taken me a little bit of time to get out of the habits. I still catch myself doing this and thankfully in private.  I am getting it! I promise.
  14. Calling our expressways by their number and not their name. This is something that I was not used to when I moved here. I did not have this issue while living in the Twin Cities where we refer everything by the interstate number.  Here’s another lesson for those who still don’t get it: I-290 is the Eisenhower aka the Ike, 90/94 NORTH of the Loop is the Kennedy, 90/94 SOUTH of the Loop is the Dan Ryan, I-55 is the Stevenson, I-294 is the Tri-State, and I-88 is the Reagan Tollway.
  15. Cheering for both the Sox and Cubs.  Pick a side and stick with it.  Or just do what I do: remain loyal to your own non-Chicago team and stay out of the way. (Go TWINS!)
  16. Refer Wrigleyville as a focus when moving to Chicago.  Like #10 on the list, there are other neighborhoods that you can move to outside of Wrigleyville.  I will admit that some of the neighborhoods do need a little bit of “clean-up” and revitalizing in order to get rid of riffraff that is keeping people from moving there. Unfortunately, crime happens everywhere in Chicago and there’s no way that you can 100% avoid it. Some areas are a little bit worse than others, but there’s no utopia in Chicago (and if there is one; someone has not told me about it yet!) Do your research for what conveniences that you need and be a little flexible.

Well, that’s all that I have for now. I am sure that there’s a longer list that what I have. Non-native Chicagoans, take notes, do your homework, and better yet ask your friends who are native to Chicago.

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