Dear (Black) People From Chicago: Do Ya'll Know How Country Ya'll Are?
January 7, 2016
On this 6th day of January in the year of 2016, I've come to grips with something pretty major. Transformative, actually:
Chicago's Black people are country as hell, which means I am country as hell.
Like, for real. Country.
We all know about the Great Migration.
Millions of Southern Black Americans ventured North to cities like Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis in the early 20th century.
My mom's side of the family are Arkansasans, and many of us are in Chicago.
But I really forgot how country we are, not only as a family, but within the context of that city.
Ok, So...While I was home, it really struck me just how "country" we are, albeit a remix of what you would traditionally think of as "country", but "country" nevertheless.
1. When Chicago People Refer to "Chicago," They Refer to It as "The City"
Only country people would refer to the name of its city as "The City."
If someone referred to an area as "The City," you'd probably think that they're from some obscure town and that the place with a post office, movie theater, and a diner about 50 miles away would be called "The City" because another "City" would be another 50 miles away (and that one probably has a hospital). THAT makes sense.
But no, Chicago definitely has more than one post office, movie theater and diner. Yet, it is referred to as "The City."
For example (And I guarantee people are having these conversations right now):
Somebody : What are you doing today?
Somebody Else: I've got to run by the dry cleaners and then go get my hair done in The City.
Somebody: Oh really? Where is your hair stylist?
Somebody Else: Edgewater.
Somebody: Ah. That is so far North. When are you coming back?
Somebody Else: Not sure. You know how rush hour is in the City.
Somebody: Yes, so glad I do NOT live in the City anymore.
OR...someone will literally say "In the City of Chicago." It is both formal and country at the same time, hence the remix.
Note: A friend reminded me that New Yorkers refer to Manhattan as "The City." I'm sure that's a Great Migration bread crumb as well.
2. You Don't Go to The Movies, You Go To The Show
Anybody: I went to the show last night.
Anybody Else: With who? and what did you see?
Anybody: With Deborah. "Creed."
Yep, the show = the movies.
Like, where did that come from? It's so charmingly formal. My guess: back in the day, people would say, "I'm going to the picture show," and slowly but surely, the "picture" part faded out, and we stuck with "the show." Yes? No? Maybe? The point: it's country.
3. The Dan Ryan / The Kennedy / The Eisenhower
I'm not sure whether Chicagoans are familiar with the numbers on the Expressways, but <insert throat clear here>, they exist.
Tammy: You told me that you would be here in 20 minutes. Where are you?
Barbara: Girl, I had to take the Eisenhower, and now I'm on the Kennedy on my way up to you.
Tammy: That's out of the way. Why didn't you take the Dan Ryan?
Barbara: Construction in The City is forcing me to take this other route.
Tammy: What a headache. Are we going to even make it to the show?
Barbara: I hope so.
Saying 90/94 or 290 will be OK. Trust me. The Kennedy...well, nobody really says 55, so I guess that one can slide.
4. Zoot Suits
Shootings. Failing schools. Police and governmental corruption. That's what we've been hearing about Chicago in the news lately. But this is also happening:
At high school proms and formal events. Stop It. Please. Just stop it. I don't need to explain how country this is.
4. Turkey Tails aka Turkey Butts (like, the booties of the Turkey)
I eat these. With a vengeance.
Turkey butts in greens? Delicious. (I closed my eyes just thinking about them). It's a great substitute for pork.
While writing this, I decided to do a little research. Apparently, this part of the turkey is the cheapest and least nutritious part of the bird. In fact, it can lead to hypertension...and do you think I give two dambs?
If this doesn't get a country stamp of approval, I don't know what will.
5. The Washroom
Aka the bathroom.
A friend relayed a story about asking some guy where the washroom was, and he vehemently corrected him by saying, it's the "men's room" because there is no bathtub in there. To which I replied while listening to that story, "who is he? the word police?"
"Washroom" is so country, and you know what? I flippin' love it!
I just realized that my definition of country is just really some old school but sorta kinda remixed traditions that are like, charming. And that's pretty dope.
I actually inherited a very strange accent too, according to my brother Jason. Neither he nor I know why I have this particular accent, but then again (going with my whole defintion and all), it's a remixed version of my Great Migration roots.
Maybe one day, if God allows, I will have "remixed-country" children of my own with weird accents and turkey butt entrees galore! A girl can dream...