Monday, September 5, 2011

Tourists Say the Darndest Things

I want to swim in the lake, but I'm afraid that the sharks might get me.

Let's go check out the Marilyn Monroe statue. I'm going to look up her dress and see if she's wearing any underwear.

What do you think is IN these Chicago-style hot dogs?

The walk signal is flashing. I'm sure the cars will stop for us.

I didn't think it'd be this hot in July. I thought Chicago was supposed to be cold all the time.

If you wear a Cubs shirt, then everyone will think you're a local.

Why does everyone look so mad all the time?

What I'd like to say to tourists:

If your shorts were any shorter, you'd be mooning people right now.

You do realize that when you and your entire family walk really slowly, stop every five seconds, and block the sidewalk like that, you are basically giving impatient Chicago locals permission to knock you over, right?

It's perfectly fine to ask bus drivers for directions. It is NOT fine to prevent other passengers from getting on the bus while you block the entrance and harass the bus driver into telling you how to get to every single place on your itinerary.

It is also NOT okay to pay the bus fare for you and all thirteen of your relatives with coins. By the way? The reason all the commuters look so angry right now is that they are about two seconds away from a MUTINY.

If you're going to sneeze all over people, could you at least aim away from my direction?

When I first moved to Chicago, I was like the tourists. I took pictures of everything and wrote about what I saw and experienced in my journal. After growing up in a small town, I was in awe of city life and the idea that I could walk down the street without running into at least half a dozen people that I knew.

I took in as much of the city as I could. I went to museums, concerts, plays, neighborhood festivals, and movie screenings in Grant Park. I spent hours sitting by the lake and watching the water move. When I went out, I was observant of everything that I saw and heard, because I didn't want to miss a thing.

But now after several years of living here, I feel like I've lost that perspective of Chicago that I had when I was like one of the wide-eyed tourists. Now I just look at the city in terms of where I need to go, as in from Point A to Point B to Point C. I've become so wrapped up in work and school that I don't have the time or money to experience the city in the way that I used to, and I miss it.

On the other hand, I think that living in the city for this long gives me the right to act like a snob and mock the tourists.

What about you? How do you feel about your hometown? Can you imagine living anywhere else?

And because I'm feeling nostalgic, here's an oldie but goodie by Frank Sinatra. Technically, Chicago's not my hometown, but in a way it is because I feel more at home here than I did anywhere else.


  1. I have never been to Chicago. My husband has, and he like it. I'm nostalgic about anything in Western Washington, especially the San Juan Islands, my home. Anytime I see a glimpse of them in the background of a whale watching commercial or read Twilight, I feel a sense of pride and love, a feeling of home.

    BTW, the tourist part was hilarious! We get tourists where I live, but I am mainly put off by their driving. All of them go at least ten miles under the speed limit. It's maddening!

  2. Frank's got a Chicago and a New York song. At my wedding, New York, New York was the last song played.

    I hear you about the tourists. The last couple of weeks have been really annoying because it's when all the college students come to MIT and Harvard, with their parents who don't want to miss a think and can't find any of the things they don't want to miss.

    Through this whole thing, I just shook my head and smiled. Did you REALLY hear the Marilyn Monroe line?

  3. Hi E.R. King,
    The tourists usually come to Chicago when it's warm out, which is why I like winter best. :) They're always surprised by how fast people drive around here.

    Hi Theresa,
    I'd like to say that I made up the line about Marilyn Monroe, but I'm not. I heard some guy say it to his friends when I was on the bus. In fact, almost every time I pass by the Marilyn Monroe statue, I see people standing underneath her skirt, looking up.

  4. I used to work at the base of the Space needle in Seattle. Yeah, I know tourists. :) I now live outside DC. I know what you mean.

  5. Hi Libby,
    It was impossible for me to avoid tourists this summer because I was working at the Tourist Trap. I heard one girl say to her father, "Daddy, if you don't buy this for me, then no hug later."

  6. Yay for Marilyn! :)

    Your tourist things made me laugh, because I can so relate. I live in the midst of tourism central, it seems, and the streets are constantly clogged with tourists who STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE sidewalk and jam the whole space! Argh!

  7. Hi Talli,
    I can understand why the tourists want to stop and admire the skyscrapers, but I just wish they wouldn't do it when they're walking in front of me. :)

  8. The only place I have been to in Chicago is the airport, but after reading your writeup I feel better prepared to blend in with the locals if I'm out on the street. Thank you for your funny insights.

  9. Hi, WA,
    One good way to blend in with the locals is to drink a lot of coffee. Chicagoans like coffee. Or at least I do. :)