Here’s a fun fact. if you want to get on my bad side very quickly, ask me to help you, and then criticize me while I’m doing it. I might very well leave you adrift among sharks if, when I try to throw you a life preserver, you make a crack about my hurling technique. I will especially despise you if you are a stranger, because you’re violating all the social contracts at once for no apparent reason than, as I see it, to argue with a stranger. Why, why, WHY would anyone ever do that?
Case in point: Yesterday I went for a lunchtime stroll along Wabash, looking for interesting skyscraper ornamentation, because I am socially inept and pathetic. As I approached Monroe St., I saw a grandmother-type and her, I assume, two granddaughters—a perfectly adorable image. I stopped at Monroe to look up and around at the surrounding cornices, when I heard behind me. “Excuse, please. Can you help me find a restaurant?”
In Chicago, you become well-accustomed to identifying accents. This woman had a thick one.
“Sure!” I said, cheerfully. “What are you looking for?”
“Magginas,” she replied.
“Sorry? Maggiano’s?” I said. I confess, I’m a wee bit hard of hearing downtown, amidst the horns and construction noise.
After reading that, you might have figured out what she was asking for. But remember, I’m a trifle deef. Also, what I heard was “MacDonough’s.” Moreover, Chicago has several Celtic-themed pubs, grills, and restaurants, and I knew of several in the Loop. Just not “MacDonough’s.”
“I don’t know that one, sorry. Why don’t I look it up on my phone,” I say, still shit-grinning.
“What?” she says in that ‘I’ve got something over you, college boy” tone I grew up with around here. “Aren’t you from here? I’m looking for McDonald’s!”
Am I from here?
The two little girls have said nothing the entire time, just looking up at the doofy guy who knows not of what Grandma speaks nor happiness meals nor hammed-burglings.
“Ah, McDonald’s,” I say in my polite maître d’ voice. “Yes, I am from here, ma’am. Lived here for 47 years, actually. I don’t know of any McDonald’s nearby, but I’ll use my phone to find you one.” Mind you, I’m starting to get a tad supercilious, but I AM STILL TRYING TO HELP HER.
She looks incredulous. How in the name of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa could I not know where a McDonald’s was? Today grandma wins points from making the yuppie, or whatever the hell stereotype she awarded me, rely on his electronic pocket imp.
“Nearby McDonald’s,” I say to Siri.
“Doesn’t know where a McDonald’s is…” she sighs, shaking her head. “Heh heh heh!” My eyes start to bug out.
Sweetheart, you don’t know where McDonald’s is, I wanted to reply.
Instead I say, “Well, I don’t eat there, ma’am, so I don’t keep tabs on where the restaurants are. Sorry I wasn’t able to immediately accommodate you. Just a second.” The girls say nothing. They look like sweet individuals. I hope they retain that sweetness before grandma rudes it out of them.
Siri reports that a McDonald’s is a block ahead. I look up and gesture southward.
“Okay… Yeah, it’s…” I start. Suddenly I’m interrupted by a male voice, old but not wise, and stumbling with the pebble-mouthed, Old Style-lubricated diction of duh city of Chicagah.
“McDonald’s!?!” says a white-haired dude of the Chicago fireplug species. “It’s RIGHT UP DERE ON THE CORNER!” I look at him, once more beholding another smug piggy-face who has won! WON! the battle against the young educated doofi who populate HIS city, eating tofu, drinking gay booze, and not knowing where da fuck Mickey D’s is.
“Yeah,” I continue, “It’s…”
“You’re looking for McDonald’s? Right up dere!” he has that “Fer gahd’s sake. Whatteryou, retarded, college boy?” expression I saw frequently while growing up and working blue collar jobs so I could go to college. And not work blue collar jobs with guys like that.
“Yep,” I say, clapping my hands together. “That is EXACTLY right. Glad we all figured that out together. Okay? Okay.” The walk sign comes on and I stride off without looking back.
Old, rude, white Chicagoans! I curse thee to an eternity of swilling from McDonald’s grease traps. It’s right up dere. On the corner. You thick-headed louts.