Many fourth grade classroom motivational posters have noted that knowledge is power. If you want be powerful in Chicago, without bribing any city officials, then you had better develop some valuable street smarts. Any seasoned local should possess these 17 critical life skills.
Navigate the city by numbers
If you hear “2400 north” and don’t think “Fullerton” or “800 west” and don’t think “Halsted,” you’re doing it wrong. If you’re a badass, you can name every street radiating out from 0-0 (State & Madison) on multiples of 200.
At some point in your 20s when you have time for such things, your friends will want to join a Euchre league on Tuesday nights at some bar you’ve been frequenting way too much already. And nobody wants to be left out of weeknight drinking, right? REMEMBER THAT THE JACKS CHANGE DEPENDING ON THE TRUMP!
Play bags without looking stupid
First off, only weirdos from Ohio call it “cornhole.” Second, the proper form is underhand with just a hint of frisbee-style rotation. Aim for the front of the board. Never put your beer down. Never.
Sing “Bear Down Chicago Bears” without teleprompter help
Believe it or not, that “T” formation really DID thrill the nation back in the day. Also, if you’re at Soldier Field, the whole “there’s a timeout” -- “WHERE?!” -- “on the field” -- “OH...” game never stops being funny.
Order an Italian beef
While there can be subtle procedural variations from beef joint to beef joint, you’d better at least have a working knowledge of the meaning behind requests like “wet,” “dipped,” and “sweet & hot.” Also, if you go “dipped,” you’d better pack at least 17 napkins.
Order a burger at the Billy Goat
There are no fries. There is no Coke. There ARE lots of free toppings. You can try to get a single but they’ll probably talk you into a double, so might as well just start there. If that’s confusing just watch the sketch.
Go to the bathroom in public
No not THAT kind of public (though actually, if it’s an emergency, the answer is “in an alley obscured by a well-placed dumpster”). But you should also have a working knowledge of where to access more comfortable facilities.
Drive in the snow
Remember how you could easily power-slide through the ice level in Mario Kart? REAL LIFE IS NOT LIKE THAT!
Park in the snow
Look, there are gonna be times where you have to hit the accelerator harder than you’re comfortable with given that there are cars like 2ft away from you on either side. It’s a feel thing. Besides, bumpers exist for a reason.
Properly excavate your car from that snowed-in parking space because it snowed another goddamn foot even though it just snowed yesterday
Wait, is it another blizzard? Nope, it’s just a metric ton of snow blowing directly into your windshield because that asshole in the SUV declined to knock the snow off the top of his car. Do not be that asshole.
Catch the Second City Mainstage even when it’s sold out
Friends in town and you forgot to get tickets? They always have some walkups set aside. Get to the box office a few hours before the show and get your name on the list. Then go drink beers so everything is funnier. Then go back well before showtime, avoid the temptation to yell out “gynecologist” as a suggestion, and you’re in for a good time.
Get meat on the cheap
Cooking meat for a whole bunch of people? Skip the grocery store and head to a wholesaler with butcher service like Peoria Packing where you can get a pork shoulder for approximately 75 cents. That’s an exaggeration, but not as big an exaggeration as you might think.
Day drink respectably
No city gets after day drinking the way Chicago does (weather permitting... or not!). It can be either the best decision or the worst decision. The choice is yours.
Contact your alderman
They may or may not be able to make sure that pothole in front of your place gets fixed faster, but at the very least it’s someone to complain to.
Order the exact right amount of pizza
There are too many variables to have an exact formula. Deep dish? Thin crust? Both? Heavy eaters? Children? Desired quantity of leftovers? A seasoned Chicagoan can take one look at the crowd and process this delicate, ever-shifting equation in a microsecond like the dude from A Beautiful Mind. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to get a group of people to agree on toppings.
Sing the anthem at a Hawks game
Can you clap and yell? Then you can handle it!
Piss off a New Yorker
Casually mention that you have an eat-in kitchen, in-unit laundry, and central air. They won’t want to ask what your rent is. But they won’t be able to help it. Tell them. Then grin sheepishly as you watch the steam come out of their ears like a cartoon character.
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If you need a fourth for Euchre, Deputy Editor Matt Lynch can be reached @MLynchChi.