I’m pretty passionate about food, if you can’t tell. One might reasonably expect that dinner at my house, at least with guests around, is quite the affair. Jeff and I do try to put our best foot forward when hosting, but we aren’t so terribly formal. Neither of us cares if you use the same fork for your entree and your salad. In fact, we won’t even give guests the option. We just have forks. Hell, we don’t even have a matching set of dining chairs. The same goes for eating in public – enjoy yourself, don’t be an asshole. However, Chicago has revealed some rather annoying habits among its residents. Maybe it’s because I commute. Maybe it’s because there are millions of people here and the odds that someone actually was raised in a barn are higher. I won’t analyze that bit of sociology too much. All I know is that the following things are now officially on my list of “WTF is Wrong with You?” or, its more urban titles, “WTF is Wrong Witchoo?” and “WHYYOUEVENLOOKINGATME?!!!”

(1) Public Chip Consumption: Don’t get me wrong. I loves me some chips, especially Pringles. I’ll destroy a tube of those things before Jeff can get any. “Once you pop…” as they say. However, I’ve noticed that Chicagoans of all stripes seem to think nothing of snarfing down a snack pack of something crispy whilst going about their other activities such as walking around campus, riding the train, talking to friends or screaming at their 16 babies and it just grosses me the fuck out, especially when I see someone eating them for breakfast. The lip smacking, the finger licking – all that shit – freaks me out. And what the hell is up with Chicago’s love of Andy Capp Hot Fries? Seriously, bitches? I mean, where do you even get those anymore? The last time I saw a pack in mainstream rotation was at Gahanna Lanes bowling alley in 1987. Otherwise, Andy Capp Hot Fries are solely the property of those barely stocked gas stations one encounters while traveling by car between large American cities. Where do you get them, Chicago? And why must you consume them as if you were fellating someone? And why must you do it RIGHT BEHIND MY HEAD on the train/bus? Which brings me to my next point….

(2) Eating on Public Transit: I have a colleague in New York City who wrote about this very thing a few years ago. The post was funny, but I thought he was just being overly anal or hyperbolic for entertainment purposes. I never thought I would find myself in the same place – seething, indignant, perplexed, nauseated and generally ready to set the whole world on fire for its own good – because someone was eating on the CTA. Upon analyzing these emotions, I realize that it has little to do with an obvious disregard for rules, although it does play some factor. The animated voices tell you every 5 minutes that “smoking, eating, littering and gambling are all prohibited on CTA vehicles” after all. Unlike my colleague, it isn’t a matter of aesthetics either. Chicago transit smells, but not as bad as New York City. The thing that bothers me is what people attempt to eat on public transit. The aforementioned chips are one, but those aren’t difficult. They’re just loud. It’s the complex things that drive me crazy. For instance, I saw a young professional woman assemble and eat an entire yogurt parfait on the Blue line one morning. She didn’t get it from Starbucks or McDonald’s. She honestly schlepped all the ingredients in her bag to the train and proceeded to mix it together on the way to Clark and Lake. I’m sure her work shoes were in that same bag. Another young professional woman ate a bowl of cereal – soy milk, natch – on the same line at a similar time. Just like her counterpart, she toted the cereal, soy milk, bowl and spoon to the fucking train station. The most recent example is probably the most amazing. Another specimen of the aforementioned species (they are a species in Chicago, I’m convinced) ate a large container of hot soup on the bus during evening rush hour; metal spoon and everything. It was not only ridiculous – Chicago drivers are brake happy – but it stank up the entire back of the bus with a salty, sweaty stench that I associate with prepubescents who haven’t yet learned about deodorant. As I watched her eat, very dainty – sipping with her pinky out, I ran through all the possible universes that would facilitate eating hot soup on the bus. None made any sense except that she might have the flu. If she did, her make-up was divine because she showed no signs of physical illness. And speaking of make-up – ladies, do you really have to beat your face on the train? Any diva worth her heels knows the light in there is terrible. Please, have some respect for yourself. Finish your morning business (face and breakfast) before you leave the house. After all, if I lit a cigarette on the train there would be a riot, not to mention jail time/fines. And I’m sure you would be the first one to narc me out.

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