Sunday, December 23, 2012

Only Chicagoans Will Feel My Pain

It’s embarrassing when friends from out of town come to visit me and I have no idea where anything is. I’m not talking about my keys or my phone or my mind – that’s just embarrassing on a daily basis. I’m talking about specific locations.

If one more person tells me Chicago is “just a big grid”, I’m gonna give them a wedgie. Many a time I have made three right turns and not ended up in the same place. Elston, you bastard! Clybourne, you are a nincompoop. And what’s up with Ogden? Ogden is like that friend in high school who's a bad influence. Every time I run into her, I end up some place I shouldn't be.

When someone tries to explain the grid system to me, it strums up the same confusion I get when getting my cash back at the grocery store. Yes, I still pay in cash. And yes, my brain still goes into a tizzy when they try to count it back to me.

“And four, six, eight and twenty makes ten,” says the cashier as I stare at her, inanely confused, like a sorority girl who's just seen Avatar.

My hipster sister who now lives in California informed me there’s an area of town referred to as ‘Six Corners’. I ain’t no geometry wiz, but I’m pretty sure that grids involve squares and squares have 4 corners. Count ‘em. Four. While on the phone, she also decided to give me the ever annoying anecdote of, “You know what I love about California? You can drive two hours and be somewhere totally different”. I can drive for two hours in Chicago and be somewhere totally different too. I just might end up outlined in chalk.

Ever heard of the Viagra triangle? The West Loop? The Ukranian Rhombus? Please don’t go googling the last one. I made it up to further prove my point. Unless it’s a colossal game of tic-tac-toe, shapes do not belong in a grid.

Here’s what I can’t quite comprehend. What is the difference between memorizing what numbered block a certain street is….and just memorizing the street? While we’re at it, why are we calling freeways by a number and a name? It’s like when Prince decided to change his name to a symbol just to mess with people. That’s what you’re doing Chicago – you’re messing with me!

Why not get a GPS you might ask? Because I wouldn’t want to rob my father of the joy of receiving my frustrated phone call so he can give me directions for thirty minutes, describing every intersection I’ll pass, every stop sign I’ll come to, and each bar he used to troll around with his buddy Carl back in the 80’s.

I mean if you’re gonna tell me that State St is 0 east-west and Madison is 0 north-south and I need to get to 1800….wait. I just figured it out. 

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