When I moved to Chicago in the summer of 2007, excited midwesterners bopped all around me continuously exclaiming, “Chicago’s summers are wonderful!” and “Oh, the best place to be for summer is Chicago!!”
I had just moved here from Seattle where the summers are pleasantly moderate with no humidity. Combine that with mountain air and the occasional salt-water breeze wafting from the Puget Sound, and…well, the Blue Scholars put it best when they said, “Ain’t nothing better than the summer in the northwest.”
So, on hot, balmy days when ecstatic Chicagoans would bound up to me and ask, “Isn’t Chicago in the summer wonderful?!?!” my first thought was always, “Um, no, actually. It’s really, really hot.” But their enthusiasm was so pervasive, I’d just nod and smile and continue on with my day.
Then, I experienced my first Chicago winter. I won’t go into the details here, as I don’t know if I have any under-age readers…but suffice it to say, it was horribly brutal. A single Chicago winter can kill a person’s soul.
When the summer of ’08 finally arrived, I became one of those ecstatic midwesterners, bobbling about singing the praises of the superiority of Chicago summers. How did this happen?! How did I so quickly become this person?
Now that I’ve surrvived two winters here, I have now realized the perfect analogy to explain this phenomenon for folks who don’t live here or are new to the area. Let’s say you’re walking down the street and an extremely overjoyed person prances up to you and says, “Isn’t it wonderful that I’m not punching you in the face right now?!” Of course you would look at them funny or try to avoid eye contact and escape, or perhaps just nod and smile and continue on with your day… Now, if that same person were to punch you in the face continuously for say, five (or more) months. When they finally stop and ask, “Isn’t it wonderful that I’m not punching you in the face right now?!” you would say, “Yes, oh yes! Not being punched in the face is marvelous!!”
Chicago, it’s April. Please stop punching me in the face.