It's easy to brag about all the shiny, polished aspects of city life, from the world-class attractions in Chicago, to our thriving restaurant scene, to the shockingly gorgeous Chicago beaches... the list goes on. But for better or for worse, Chicago is also home to certain behavioral quirks that are kind of gross, actually, when you think about it. An outsider doesn't need to look any further than our abiding love for messy food (read: dipped Italian beef) or our habit of getting a little too comfy on the CTA for proof. But as unappealing as some of these idiocyncrasies might seem, we can't help but feel a little proud of our grossness: it's part of the weird, wonderful ecosystem that makes Chicago unique. Presented with as much affection as possible, here are the 16 nastiest things that Chicagoans do.
1. Eat (and love) Italian beef. We're not saying Italian beef isn't delicious! But take care of those greasy gravy fingers after you've finished wolfing your sandwich down.
2. Neglect to wash our winter jackets. Even though we've all been known to sweat through our heavy parkas sometimes on a balmy 40 degree day.
3. Wear flip-flops shorts on the aforementioned balmy winter days. OK, we love a little break from below-freezing temps as much as the next Chicagoan, but that shouldn't mean you break out the summer shoes when the thermometer inches over 40.
4. Eat after holding onto a pole on the CTA. Don't kid yourself: someone probably just coughed on that.
5. Sit down without first inspecting our seats on the El. Luckily, the fabric ones are increasingly rare these days—but just because the seat's plastic doesn't mean you won't find mysterious stains and liquids lurking on top.
6. Plop down on our beds while wearing pants that have been on the train. Are you really going to let your germ-covered clothes muck up the place where you sleep? Come on.
7. Neglect to pick up dog poop for the duration of winter. It's still there under all that snow, coalescing into one big pile of dog poop slurry.
8. Walk barefoot in the sand at the dog beach. Again, just because you don't see it...
9. Kayak down the Chicago River. The river is a lot cleaner now than in decades past, but we still advise you avoid splashing water in the general vicinity of your face and mouth area.
10. Sit on the grass in Butler Field or Hutchinson Field in Grant Park. They're both giant goose toilets and they usually smell like it.
11. Swim in Lake Michigan. We'll rattle off a million reasons why living lakeside is superior to being by the ocean anytime, but still: the frequency of E. coli notices is way too high for comfort.
12. Snack on a peppermint pickle. The internet is often aghast at this unusual South Side delicacy—a peppermint stick wedged inside a dill pickle—but hey, don't knock it til you've tried it. Who doesn't like a sweet and salty dessert?
13. Pick up furniture out of alleys. Yeah, that chair might be the perfect midcentury addition to your living room, but also... bedbugs.
14. Use terrifying bathrooms at summer music festivals You gotta go when you gotta go, but it takes a brave soul to lock themselves in a heavily-used port-a-potty at Lollapalooza, Pitchfork or Riot Fest in 90-degree festival weather.
15. Eat free popcorn at bars. There's almost always a drunk dude eating straight from the machine with his grubby hands.
16. Genuinely enjoy Malört. There's a reason this stuff isn't really sold outside of Chicago, folks.