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Wrigley Field - Chicago Cubs

Chicagoans are passionate about a lot of things (pizza, politics, the Cubs winning the World Series!). You can skim through any local city guide to read about Chicago’s many neighborhoods and attractions, but all you really need to know to navigate The Windy City are these 15 things never to say to a Chicagoan.

RELATED: Here’s how to spend 3 perfect days in Chicago

1) Michael Jordan? Overrated.
You didn’t just say that. Now you’ll have to brace yourself as the Chicagoans in the room inundate you with a staggering list of accomplishments (10-time NBA scoring leader, 6-time NBA champion, 5-time MVP) that prove why His Royal Airness is the greatest player to ever grace the NBA hardwood. Not convinced? We’ll just leave this here and call it a day.

2) How do I get to the Willis Tower?
Whachu talkin’ about, Willis? We’re still smarting from the fact that this stunning edifice lost its title as the world’s tallest building in 1996. And despite the fact that the burly building “officially” changed its name from the Sears Tower to the Willis Tower in 2009, we’ll shrug our big shoulders and keep walking if you refer to it this way.

3) I like your accent.
We don’t have an accent. YOU have an accent.

4) The 2007 New England Patriots could have taken the ’85 Bears.
A hushed silence just enveloped the room. Now you’re in for it because the Bears have achieved immortal status in Chicago—and rightfully so. The ’85 team had one of the most ferocious defenses in NFL history, a phenomenal offense, and an array of unforgettable characters, including Walter Payton, Jim McMahon, Refrigerator Perry and Da Coach himself, Mike Ditka (cross yourself and genuflect).

PLUS: Check out these six ’80s movie scenes you can live in real life in Chicago.

5) Chicago’s architecture? Meh.
Two words: Look up. Sure, Chicago boasts buildings designed by a veritable who’s who of architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan and Mies Van Der Rohe. But our fair city also features work by some top contemporary architects, including Frank Gehry’s stunning bandshell in Millennium Park and Jeanne Gang’s bold Aqua highrise near the lake. That’s what.

6) To a Sox fan: Not too many people go to Sox games, huh?
That old Journey song that triumphantly ushered the 2005 Sox to the World Series? It’s up there with the national anthem in this town. True, Sox fans may not havepacked U.S. Cellular Field to the rafters lately (1.7 million fans visited the park in 2014, which was 28th out of 30 in the major leagues). But a real Sox booster knows that what the fans lack in numbers they more than make up for in passion. Plus: 2005, people.

7) To a Cubs fan: You guys are never going to win it all.
How do you like us now? Okay, so the Cubs hadn’t won a World Series since 1908, but that just makes our recent victory even sweeter. As it turns out, “next year” was truly this year, and the team’s roster of talented young players could mean we have yet another shot next year. At least that’s what all those eternally optimistic Cubs fans are rooting for. Curse? What curse!

RELATED: Chicago’s best rooftop bars

8) Donald Trump put his name on the side of that building. So what?
Whether you love or hate this presidential candidate, the ostentatious outsider had the audacity to put his name in gargantuan letters on the side of his building*, which is a true no-no in this town. It rankled us so much that Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed strict legislation regulating the size of signs along the river.

*Credit where it’s due: The building is kind of cool.

9) The only thing this hot dog needs is a little ketchup.
Any Chicagoan worth her celery salt knows that hot dogs are meant to be adorned with anything and everything—except ketchup. We’ll allow the overly sweet condiment on fries or if you’re under the age of, say, 14. Otherwise, you’ll be the butt of our jokes.

10) So you probably spend a lot of time at Navy Pier.
It’s not that Navy Pier is SO bad—it’s got a great IMAX theater, cool kid’s museum, and a sweet fireworks show all summer long. Otherwise? It’s a tourist trap with an odd collection of tchotchke shops, chain restaurants and T-shirt stores. Locals avoid it like the Kennedy at rush hour.

ALSO: You know what’s almost as rewarding as winning the World Series?

11) We need to get from O’Hare downtown in a flash. Better take a cab.
No, no, a hundred times no. Unless you love sitting in traffic and throwing $30 out the window, take a CTA train. Yes, you’ll have to check your seat for unidentifiable liquids before sitting down and, yes, prices continue to inch upward (now $5 from O’Hare to downtown Chicago), but especially during rush hour, our El system is still the fastest, cheapest way to get downtown. Plus, we’re sure you’ll meet some real interesting locals along the way.

12) We just had the city’s most amazing deep dish at Uno’s Pizza!
Spend more than a couple weeks here and you’ll quickly learn that the best deep dish—which we Chicagoans rarely eat, but that’s beside the point—can be found at Lou Malnati’s, Pizano’s or Pequod’s.

13) Excuse me, how do I get to Paul-EE-na/Day-MIEN/GoaTEE Street?
Quick lesson:

Paulina= Paul-eye-nuh
Damen = Dame-in
Goethe = Ger-tuh (yes, “ger-tuh,” it’s German)

14) Chicago winters aren’t that bad.
You see us wearing ankle-length puffy coats and Uggs well into March. That’s not because we think this is fashion forward. The winter of 2013–14 was, literally, one of the worst in Chicago’s history. And the thought of going through another polar vortex (just the name gives us chills) is enough to make us consider—for a split second—moving farther south. But this is our town and we’ll bravely endure it again, and again, and again. And we’re tough as hell because of it.

15) Chicago’s got nothing on New York.
Simply, inarguably, eternally FALSE.

Featured image courtesy of Sabrina Harrigan 

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Tagged: Midwest, Top 10 Lists

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Joel Reese

Joel Reese

Joel's work has appeared in Spin, Details, Forbes, Texas Monthly, Chicago, Deadspin,, Mediaite, and The Best American Sports Writing series. He lives in Chicago with his wife and daughter and roots, roots, roots for the Cubbies.
Joel Reese

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10 thoughts on “15 things never to say to a Chicagoan”

  1. I have been away from Chicago for 41 years and still miss it, in fact would move back in a ( Pardon the expression) New York Minute

  2. This city always had a kind of uniqueness and fascination to it despite the weather but then we have our beautiful lakefront! And awesome Blackhawks NHL team!

  3. Lived N Chi Town for 12 years originally born N raised In Bronx New York don’t get me wrong Chicago is a beautiful city I do have to say it has nothing on New York

  4. Apples, oranges and cherries; all the comparrions of NY, Chicago, LA, and the rest are mere fodder. See them all for their intrinsic beauty.

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