DA 'BURBS (OF CHICAGO) -- Da city would like to report a missing word. It's a little word, but quite a functional one. Very necessary. One of da articles of speech of da English language, in fact.
In and around Chicago, da word has simply vanished. Nobody seems to know where da word went, either. But everybody certainly knows who took it -- da guys who came up with a certain "Saturday Night Live" skit.
Not that Chicagoans seem to much care about getting da word back and re-introducing it to conversation.
"Bears fans are so much alike," said Robert Smigel, da SNL writer who creates Da Bears scenes and stars in them with Mike Myers, Chris Farley and George Wendt. "They all have walrus mustaches, aviator shades and wear any T-shirt as long as it's pro-Chicago. There are just so many elements of that kind of guy."
Da parody features Smigel, Myers, Farley and Wendt as four sloppy (and that's an extremely polite description) Bears fans sitting around a table smoking cigars, drinking beer and inhaling food -- Polish sausages are da favorite fare. Cumulatively, da group is known as Bill Swerski's Super Fans. Da subject of discussion never changes . . . by how much will da Bears beat da other guys on a particular NFL weekend.
Da setting is a radio show in one of Coach Dikka's restaurants.
That, of course, would be Bears coach Mike Ditka, except that finding da "t" in his name is almost as difficult as finding da missing word itself.
But there's no mistaking da fact that Ditka loves it.
"I know there are people who don't like it," Ditka said recently outside his office in Halas Hall at da team's practice facility in Lake Forest. "But I don't think it's a slap at anybody at all.
"It's something unique about Chicago and the way people from around here talk. 'Da pizza is cold. Get da beer. Close da door.' Things like that."
Da Bears have become part of Chicago's fabric. Da imagery is everywhere, so much so that Chicago's NBA team is now known -- almost as affectionately as Da Bears -- as Da Bulls. Those Bulls won da NBA title last season.
Care to guess who was invited to da ring ceremony?
"Yes, we were," said Smigel, slipping into his Super Fan persona as Carl Wollarski. "One of da great tragedies is that we are unable to attend. Da Bulls know we will be there in spirit."