What it usually means: A mind-altering drug that can take you on a spiritual journey.
What it means in Chicago: A mind-altering stretch of road called Lake Shore Drive, which may or may not take you anywhere depending on the time of day.
2. Snow Day
What it usually means: School is canceled because it’s so snowy that cars might crash, oh no!
What it means in Chicago: School is canceled because it’s so snowy that cars might not even start.
What it usually means: Spring.
What it means in Chicago: Spring… J/K STILL WINTER HAHAHAHA all your new flowers are now dead.
What it usually means: Fall.
What it means in Chicago: The month that contains the two weeks out of the year where it isn’t too cold, too hot, or too rainy to eat on restaurant patios AND the month where everyone drinks away the sorrows of another failed Cubs season.
What it usually means: Crust, sauce, cheese, toppings, snore. Something Jon Stewart apparently loves to eat.
What it means in Chicago: Deep dish, a pizza for those who aren’t afraid to eat something delicious just because they can’t eat it with their hands, because they are adults and not babies.
6. Hot Dog
What it usually means: Wiener, bun, ketchup, snore.
What it means in Chicago: Wiener, bun, onions, relish, tomatoes, pickle, peppers, celery salt, mustard, and if you come near me with that ketchup I will just cut you. Why would you want ketchup on your hot dog when you already have tomatoes? That’s like leaving your girlfriend for a blow-up doll.
OOPS: A true Chicago hotdog should also include some sweet pickle relish. An earlier version of this article did not include that ingredient. Our bad!
What it usually means: A person who serves in the military.
What it means in Chicago: A place where the Chicago Bears either serve up a good beating, or a place that serves up a lot of angry cursing and traffic, depending on the Sunday.
What it usually means: Claiming that something is yours.
What it means in Chicago: Claiming that a space you spent all morning digging out of the snow is yours by sticking a piece of lawn furniture on it, which then may or may not be run over by another car, anyway.
What it usually means: The guy who hates Chris Brown.
What it means in Chicago: The fancy hotel your parents probably took you to around Christmas.
10. The Beach
What it usually means: A tropical sandy paradise by the sea.
What it means in Chicago: Some sand by Lake Michigan, which is always freezing, but still basically heaven when it is 98 degrees outside.
11. The Cell
What it usually means: A place to put people who are prisoners.
What it means in Chicago: A place to put people who are prisoners to watching the White Sox lose.
12. The Bean
What it usually means: A food that makes you fart.
What it means in Chicago: Art.
What it usually means: An open plane of grass.
What it means in Chicago: That poor Marshall Field’s flagship store that got turned into a Macy’s.
14. The Taste
What it usually means: Getting to experience something’s flavor.
What it means in Chicago: Getting to experience many flavors (and everybody’s smells) at the Taste of Chicago.
What it usually means: A type of shoe you wear on your foot.
What it means in Chicago: A type of shoe your car gets to wear on its foot if your meter runs out/you’re about to have a particularly terrible day.
What it usually means: Hot weather.
What it means in Chicago: A deadly three- to four-month-long gauntlet of humid hellfire that assures that when you are not freezing in Chicago, you are probably boiling.
17. Hillside Strangler
What it usually means: Two ’70s-era serial killers from Los Angeles.
What it means in Chicago: A poorly designed highway merge that will make you want to kill yourself.
18. The Coach
What it usually means: A person who coaches a team.
What it means in Chicago: Mike Ditka, who you’d best respect if you do not want to be disowned by your dad, or if you ever want to be served at a bar on the South Side ever again.
19. Parking Meter
What it usually means: A thing you put money into in order to pay your city for parking.
What it means in Chicago: A thing your mayor can sell off to a private company to raise money for…stuff.
20. The L
What it usually means: The twelfth letter of the alphabet.
What it means in Chicago: A train with that you have the biggest love/hate relationship of your life.
21. St. Patrick’s Day
What it usually means: March 17, a day of drunken debauchery.
What it means in Chicago: March 17, a day of drunken debauchery that is taken so seriously that the river will get dyed green EVEN IF THE RIVER IS FROZEN.
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