Years ago back in university I had a classmate over at my apartment to go over a group project. I was explaining how to get somewhere from my place when she looked at me strangely. It took a while of talking before I figured out what the problem was. She couldn’t follow my directions because one of the first steps was to pull a U-turn. She told me she had grown up in Ohio and the town where she learned to drive didn’t allow U-turns… so she just never learned how to do them.

As it turns out, U-turns aren’t illegal in all of Ohio but as it also turns out, this is a very common question. A few internet searches show that a lot of people seem to have that particular misconception about Ohio. I’m not sure why that is or what has perpetuated it, but it’s interesting, no?

Also interesting to me is that she never learned U-turns after moving out on her own. I hope she’s figured them out by now. They’re an awfully useful maneuver. Also, they’re seriously easy to figure out. Just, uh, turn the wheel some more.

That got me thinking though, we all have strange facts about ourselves and where we were raised. I’m sure there are a lot of misconceptions out there too. I was raised just north of Chicago so I’m not a true “Chicagoan” but my parents, grandparents, and most of my cousins were raised there so much of my time was spent within the city limits.

Here are a few misconceptions about Chicago:

Eating any kind of pizza in Chicago besides deep dish is a sin.
This one makes me laugh because I was raised eating Domino’s pizza. It’s true that I haven’t found a good deep dish joint outside of Chicago or its nearby suburbs, but it’s not true that you can’t enjoy other pizzas. They won’t put you in the square and throw stones at you. If you don’t like deep dish pizza that much though, probably don’t bother mentioning it because some folks will give you the stare down. 😛

Violence is around every corner.
Trying to deny there is violence in Chicago would be stupid. Yes, there is violence, and there are crimes. You want to know where else there are problems with crime and violence? Try LA, Detroit, New York, DC, and many other cities. Any large city is going to have instances of violence and crime. Just because Chicago is known for crime families and gang wars doesn’t mean there are mobsters and thugs on every corner. There’s a lot more to the city than the crimes people commit within its bounds.

Chicago is landlocked.
I am thankful to say I have never heard this one before today. Most people do equate “Midwest” with fields of hay and corn, but generally folks who talk to me about Chicago are well aware of Lake Michigan. It’s no ocean but it’s not a desert wasteland either. It provides a lot for the city.

Chicago is cold *all* the time.
Hahahahaha. How about you call up your Chicago friend in August and try that line on them. Yes, the winters are cold. Bitterly cold some years. That does not mean, however, that Chicago is always cold. I spent many a night spraying water into a fan or putting ice packs on my head just to try to fall asleep at night. There are seasons just like a lot of other places in the US. In fact, I’ve never seen anything quite like a Chicago spring. There’s something beautiful about the first daffodils and tulips of the year.

Chicagoans are extremely uppity about how hot dogs are served.
I saved this one for last for two reasons: 1) I am a hardcore hot dogs or die sort of person and 2) we can be uppity about “Chicago style dogs”. Allow me to explain; there are many kinds of hot dogs and you can happily munch on almost any kind if you visit the windy city.In fact, Chicago diners are pretty much the only place I’ve been able to ask for a francheezie without someone thinking I was having some sort of mental stroke. If, however, you ask for a “Chicago style dog” you can’t try to change the play book. A true Chicago style dog is a masterpiece and is not to be trifled with. It would do you well to remember that. PS. If you know what celery salt is and willingly put it on your food I will love you forever.

So there are my amusing misconceptions de-bunked. I hope they were informative or at least amusing. If you have the time leave a comment with any interesting misconceptions about your city/state/home country.

With Love, Mia

Nov 18: Today I am thankful for the rain.


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