Life
by John Hickey on May 24, 2013

1. Michigan Avenue/Millennium Park
I work on Michigan Avenue so this is a little biased, but there's little that's “Magnificent” about it. You can't move more than three-and-a-half mph for fear of knocking over an idiot pedestrian pointing their camera at the Tribune Tower with Garrett's popcorn-covered fingertips.  When somebody asks me for directions to Millennium Park, I tell them to walk towards the lake and when they reach the edge of the water, just keep walking. The next time somebody tells you their favorite Chicago restaurant is Grand Lux Cafe, remove your belt and beat them with the buckle until it breaks. Then make them buy you a new one at Water Tower Place.

2. Bandwagon Sports Fans
As a city, we've been lucky enough to have 9-10 championship sports teams in the past 20 years. Every time one of them goes on a nice playoff run or winning season, an innumerable amount of fair-weather fans crawl out of the woodwork. Nothing is more nauseating than some drunk college girl in an oversized jersey running her yapper about how she's been a Sox fan her whole life because her Dad's firm has season tickets. I like to play a game with these people called “Name Five Players.” Oh, you've been a Bears fan since before they went to the Super Bowl in '06? OK. Name five players on the Bears from the 90's. That's a whole decade of players to choose from. Or here's an easy one, name five current Blackhawks players excluding Toews, Kane or Sharpey. I'm sorry – I can't hear you over the music in this bar. Or the crickets.

3. Weekend Suburban Transplants
These Weekend Warriors come from the north or west suburbs and pretend they own the place. They think a fun night out is dinner at Maggiano’s and then drinks at the Redhead Piano Bar. Sure that does sound like a blast…25 years ago. They have the Chicago names down pat and they don't hesitate to drop them whenever they can in an attempt to “fit in.” When they hear I’m a standup comedian they ask, “oh, like at Zanies?” or even worse, “at Second City?” If somebody mentions Willis Tower they're the first to pipe in with, “It'll always be the Sears Tower to me.” You know what real Chicagoans think about the name of the Willis Tower? Nothing. They don't care because they don't go there, ever.

4. “Foodies”
There are over 7,000 sit-down restaurants in the Chicago area. I haven't been to all of the ones you've been to. You're probably right that you've had the best ribs in Chicago, because I haven't wasted a quarter of my life stuffing my fat face full of food and waving it around as an accomplishment like you have. No no, I get it, you have a refined palate. Only the best for you. You hate going home to your wife and waking up for your job so you try to fill that emptiness by proclaiming FOOD as your passion. You make me sick.

5. Rich Women on the Bus
Yes ma’am, don’t worry, I see you standing there glaring at me. I’m not going to stand up and give you my seat, sorry. You know why? You’re not elderly, handicapped or pregnant. The only reason you think you deserve a seat is because you’re carrying two bags of groceries from Whole Foods, a bag from both Saks and Bloomingdales and you’re a woman. I’m not trying to jump to any conclusions but I think you can afford to take a cab back to your Gold Coast manor. I, however, am riding this bus because it’s the only way for me to get home. Don’t make me feel like a poor piece of shit on top of a regular piece of shit. The only lesson you’re teaching anyone is that if they follow you home they can rob you.

6. Wrigleyville After a Cubs Game
A summer game at Wrigley is both a pleasure and a goddamned circus. With half-clothed women who were drunk before the first pitch and bars as far as the eye can see, it feels like you’ve stepped onto another planet. It’s loud, crowded and sweaty. Now imagine walking home from a long day of work through that or riding the El to the gym while it’s packed with belligerent fans. Just like maintaining your sobriety while out with your Bros, being the only guy not invited to the party during his evening commute should be Dante’s Eighth Circle of Hell. 

7. Cab Fare
It’s three bucks before you even get in and a dollar for each additional passenger. That means before you’ve even moved an inch you’re down a five-spot. I’ve taken cabs in NYC, Boston and Vegas and their prices are nowhere near this outrageous (honestly, I don’t remember for Vegas). It’ll cost you 20 bucks to go anywhere and don’t even think about asking the driver to pay with a credit card. His machine’s always broken and he mysteriously doesn’t know how to say anything except “You want to add tip?”

8. Restaurants Without Reservations
On the occasions I do go out to eat, it’s usually to your standard spots: Italian, bar/pub, sushi, etc. The rare times I take a date out to dinner we usually end up on Restaurant Row, aka my personal nightmare. Each place has a single word for its name (think ‘Oval’ or ‘Sailboat’) and there’s no calling ahead for a table. This means I’m usually standing outside for two hours nursing a beer while my stomach acid erodes the inner lining of my intestines. Of course she’s not open to going anywhere else, because the chef here at ‘Hawk’ was on the Food Network once for five minutes. By the time we sit down we’ve run out of things to talk about and I’m hungry enough to commit a murder-suicide right there at the table. 

9. Chicago Stereotypes
Contrary to popular beliefs, we’re not all like Bill Swerski’s Super Fans on SNL. Similar to how guys from Boston are tired of people asking the quickest way to a Haavad Baah, I’m sick of people thinking my day consists of eating a Polish sausage, drinking an Old Style and paying off a city councilman. Like most stereotypes, the attributes of a select few have been applied to the mass population of our city. They’re all 100% untrue. Except for the whole murders thing. A lot of people get murdered in Chicago.  

10. Chicago (Itself)
“Three bucks an hour for parking? Only in CHICAGO.”

“What do you mean it's $9 in tax? Are you serious, CHICAGO?”

“It's 30 degrees in April AND twenty people were shot this weekend? Thanks a lot, CHICAGO!”

Look, you get what you signed up for. The only thing surprising about any of this is that people still get surprised by any of it. There are those who will actively choose to live in one of the greatest cities in the world and then spend every second complaining about it. If you’re so unhappy, move to the suburbs or shut your mouth.

Chi Town get down.

John Hickey is a Chicago based stand up comedian and writer. Follow him @johnnyjhickey and check out his website johnhickeycomedy.com.

[Wrigley Field image via ShutterStock]

Tags: