As I said the other day, I have a fractious relationship with the Midwest. I have been to Detroit, Chicago, Omaha, and now St. Louis. Also Cincinnati, sortof, but technically I was in Kentucky most of the time. So, I’ll say that I ate Skyline chili in Cincinnati. The rest of those places, I visited.

And I have come away with nothing but love for the people I’ve met while there.* Because you know why? New Yorkers are horrendous, nasty, oblivious monsters.** (Though not as bad as the Spanish tourists who come here.***) Thus, when I go someplace else and check into a hotel and the person behind the desk does more than grunt when he addresses me IT IS A TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCE. Or when a server in a restaurant acts all cheerful about bringing me my food.**** Or when the cashier at a grocery store makes small talk about the delicious juice I’m buying and don’t you just love juice?

Look, I understand that they’re just faking it. But I like to be lied to. Fucking lie to me already. It makes me happy. (This is also why I loved living in the South.)

So I caught some flak awhile back because I said some less-than-flattering things about the food in Chicago. (And also about Local H*****.) Let me tell you–if you want to get Chicagoans riled up, comment on their penchant for deep-frying everything and pouring melted cheese and ranch dressing all over it and piling it on a plate the size of a skimboard. (Nobody cares if you mention their legacy of corrupt politicians or dramatic socioeconomic stratification.)

They get especially pissed off when you say things like

You can order just about anything, provided it contains meat and/or cheese. At this restaurant, they had a “Light Bites” section, which included hot wings and something called “Sausage Salad.” We ordered burgers, because it turns out that if you want to order something other than that at this restaurant you have to have a note from your oncologist.

And LC remarked, “I never thought I’d find myself in the position of specifying that I don’t want Alfredo sauce on my hamburger.”

The food was similar in St. Louis. We were relegated to mostly shitty restaurants, it’s true. (We had two amazing meals–both of which were also astoundingly huge.) Flagons of ranch dressing and surprise melted cheese toppings (or fillings).

However, the people in St. Louis were the loveliest people in the world (on par with Omaha, I’d say, but also extremely apologetic about the weather and the cable box in your room not functioning properly). So I will forgive them for their dressing, for they know not what they do.

In part 2, which I plan to get around to writing before New Year’s, I’ll discuss the one anomaly we encountered, and what everyone can learn from her.

*Sweeping generalization #1
**Sweeping generalization #2
***Sweeping generalization #3
****More on that shortly
*****LC and I found a flyer on the sidewalk for a Local H show. It reminded me of elementary school, when you set off a helium balloon with your address tied to it and you hope that someone four towns over finds it and writes to you. I thought about whether I should write to Local H to say that someone finally found their balloon.
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