Sure, you may think you’ve been able to shed all evidence of being from the 'burbs, but admit it -- deep down inside, you’ve got a soft spot for malls, chain restaurants, and a nicely paved driveway. Don’t worry -- your secret is safe with us. Suburbanite's honor! We’ll recognize each other by any/all of the following tells:
Metra is both your best friend and your worst enemy
On one hand, Metra’s lax rules make it possible for you to pregame on your way into the city. On the other hand, the stress of trying to make that last train out of Union Station can leave you drinking for reasons that are much less fun.
The menu at your family parties never, ever changes
No matter what sort of occasion you’re celebrating, there’s a 99.9% chance you’re going to end up with Italian beef, baked mostaccioli, fried chicken, and oily salad on your plate. If you play your cards right, maybe your uncle’s neighbors won’t notice if you hop the fence and steal some arrachera from their party.
Growing up, you were weirdly biased against kids from other suburbs
You’ve never actually encountered any kids from Elmhurst, but your best friend’s older sister swears that they’re total “York Dorks,” and don’t even get her started on those jerks from “Scumburg.”
Working as a grocery bagger/cart-pusher was a rite of passage
If you were lucky, you got hired at the same Jewel or Dominick’s as some of your friends. You were soooo jealous that your one friend got a job at Hot Topic. I mean, whatever.
The only bars you’ve been in are dive bars
They may be filled with dubious-looking characters, but once you get to know them, you realize they’re all kinda lovable. You drink with just about every person you went to high school with in that same dive bar on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and are always mildly terrified that someone will say hello and you won't recognize them.
You secretly wish you could still go to Enchanted Castle without appearing creepy
Mini-golf and laser tag is a pretty fantastic combo, and also, you like silently reminiscing about your middle school makeout sesh in the ball pit during that youth group lock-in.
Having to walk somewhere is your worst nightmare
You’re still not really sure walking down Irving Park Rd in the suburbs is so much worse than walking down Irving Park Rd in Chicago proper, but it is. Also, my feet hurt. Are we there yet?
You have at least one friend who is scared of going into the city
Oh wow, your epic journey from Lombard to Wrigleyville sounds soooo thrilling! Please tell me more about your brave adventure “Downtown.”
Teen dance clubs were basically the coolest thing ever
“It, like, seriously sucks that you got grounded for staying too late at Nitro last weekend, because DJ Markski was totally spinning at Zero Gravity tonight!”
You’ve appeared in the Daily Herald at least once in your lifetime
Who can resist writing about your accomplishments? It’s not every day that a local teen’s taco recipe is put to use by the school cafeteria!
Most of your teenage years were spent inside of your local Denny’s
Mainly because it was the only place that would actually tolerate your group’s antics for hours on end. You now cringe at the memory of everything you put those poor waitresses through.
You get creative when city people ask where you’re from
Unless you’re from a large suburb like Schaumburg, explaining where you live is sometimes more trouble than it’s worth. “I’m from Bensenville. You know… like Victory Auto Wreckers on East Green St?... near O’Hare?”
So, you’ve lied and said you’re from Chicago at least a few times
Is a hotel clerk at the Best Western in Charleston really going to know where Markham is? That is, until you get busted by someone else on vacation who is actually from Chicago.
You have at least one traumatic memory from the Brookfield Zoo
What, you've never fallen into the walrus pit?
Listening to your city-based friends talk about rising rent prices makes you feel slightly smug
“Wow, you pay that much for a one-bedroom apartment? That’s more than I pay for my three-bedroom, two-bath house with a pool in Oswego… and I own the place!”
Your high school physics trip to Great America is the only thing you remember about high school physics
Wasn't there something about velocity and... whatever, remember when Murph puked after riding Batman?!
You had to answer pointed questions from your mom taken straight from the local police blotter
"Yes, I know John Boreman, he's in my geometry class. What, no, I wasn't at his house Friday. Was there a party or something?" (You were at his house on Friday.)
You started brunching at an early age
Maybe it was Egg Harbor. Maybe it was Walker Brothers. Wherever it was, you were on the brunch scene well before mimosas could be involved.
Your proximity to Portillo’s is of high importance
Those city folks may have museums and shopping and fun bars, but you? You are within walking distance of Portillo’s. Have fun driving all the way Downtown for an Italian beef sandwich, suckas!
90% of your high school graduating class ended up at the same community college
You showed up on the first day of class at College of DuPage, Triton College, or Moraine Valley Community College and realized that the majority of your entire graduating class was there as well. Is there no escaping these people?!
Discovering Dial-A-Bus was a life-changing experience
If you had a few bucks, you could get picked up on your doorstep and dropped off anywhere in town. It’s like the CTA, but for sheltered suburban kids!
A movie released 20+ years ago is likely the most exciting thing that ever happened to your town
So what if The Breakfast Club / Ferris Bueller’s Day Off / Home Alone / Wayne’s World were barely filmed here… they put this town on the map, dammit!
You can not comprehend how your grandparents raised four kids inside of a Chicago bungalow
And you thought sharing 2.5 bathrooms with two siblings was bad? You don’t even want to think about the horrors that occurred inside that two-bedroom, one-bath home.
You take it personally when people refer to every fool in Wrigleyville as “suburbanites”
Um, excuse me - I do believe the inadequate bro who’s trying to punch that cop is wearing a tshirt that says University of Michigan, not Oakton Community College. TRANSPLANTS.
You’ll miss the most random aspects of suburban life once you move to the city
Why doesn’t my local grocery store carry Greek coffee or authentic pierogies? Why are all of the good hot dog stands so far away? Most importantly, why in Ditka’s name has Caputo’s not opened a city location yet?!
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Lisa Chatroop is one of the founders of Chicago-based lifestyle blog Daily Urbanista. Although she was born in (and has since moved back to) the city, she spent her formative years in the oh-so-charming suburb of Bensenville. Say hi to her on Twitter: @Chicagoista or @DailyUrbanista.