No matter how many hipsters try to make nerdiness the new "cool," it takes much more than high-waisted jeans and Super Mario Kart skills to navigate the perilous dating geekosystem of our modern age. Sure, you may have hooked up at a Buffy the Vampire Slayer convention or enjoyed the occasional torrid affair on trekpassions.com, but where can a nerd take that special someone in our fair city? Lucky for us, Chicago bursts with pocket protector-worthy spots. So put the Wii down for a second, readjust those plastic hot-for-teacher glasses and get ready to get down and nerdy!
Board Games at Guthrie's Tavern
Just west of the Wrigleyville ruckus, Guthrie's is a nerd's dream come true, with more than 100 board games on hand. All the classics are there—Pictionary, Life, Chess, Boggle and Scattergories—as well as your childhood favorites—Candyland, Connect Four and Battleship. If you're feeling frisky, try an ice breaker game, like To Know You Better or Marry, Date or Dump. For something a little less conventional, opt for a rousing round of Dog-opoly, Movie Mania or Real Dumb Laws. The bar matches a dork's lust for gaming with his penchant for good beer, with specialty drafts (like Sierra Nevada) on tap. The food menu is scant, which allows you to direct your focus to where it really needs to be: On getting that triple word score, which may or may not help you score later, depending on how much trash talking you do as the evening progresses.
Reading Under the Influence at Sheffield's
Held on the first Wednesday of the month in the back room of Sheffield's, Reading Under the Influence is a reading series for literary nerds who want a shot at local fame, plus a shot of whiskey (or whatever their poison). Participants read from their own work or published works that revolve around the month's theme, like the recent one dubbed Women on Top (I'll drink to that!). After two shots and a reading, the audience has to answer trivia based on what they just heard, with questions ranging from the practical to the absurd. If you answer correctly, guess what you win? Books! Sheffield's offers plenty of cheap drink specials to lubricate your mind, including "bad" beers like Point and Miller High Life for $2; make sure you stay in the back area because the same beer will cost you $4 at the front bar. And nerds know that paying $4 for MGD is Crime and Punishment.
Holy Smokes, Batman! at Chicago Comics
Any store owner who addresses you as "mortal" is a nerd ally (unless it's Tom Cruise, in which case, be wary!). Chicago Comics is a graphic sanctuary for all your nerdy needs and deeds. From mainstream comics to self-published zines, from gothic/fantasy to Manga, from children's books to erotica, it offers the widest range of selections on Middle Earth, and probably in all of the Galactic Cluster. Comic traditionalists will appreciate the superhero trends (X-Men, The New Avengers, Wonder Woman), and avant-gardists will enjoy experimental works, like My Inner Bimbo and Captain Carrot. In addition to comics, it also has a decent selection of books and trade paperbacks. And what nerd store would be complete without toys: Battlestar Gallactica Modern Minimates, anyone? If its impressive array of merchandise isn't enough to set your spandex a twitch, Chicago Comics also has the occasional reading and book signing event with cartoonists, artists and editors in the field—perfect if you and your sweetie need a night off from saving the planet from the throes of evil.
Classic films at Music Box
Cinephiles (that's film geeks, to the rest of us) will recognize this gem immediately. The Music Box Theatre has been around since 1929, and it's THE Chicago spot for viewing independent and foreign films. With plush red seats and a lavishly painted, palace-like decor, it makes you feel like you are in a movie while watching one. Classic film buffs would be advised to check out the midnight screenings of eclectic picks, like the Xanadu sing-a-long (a musical about the inspiration of building a disco roller rink!), every Friday and Saturday. Comedies, tragedies, existential glimpses about the malaise of modern man, silent films, films about naked boys singing—the Music Box shows them all, and you can get in on the fun for less than $10. If you're looking for an outlet for that killer Olivia Newton-John lip synching routine, then the this theatre just might be your new Grease Lightning.
Bingo! at The Closet
It's hard enough to find a lesbian bar in Chicago, let alone a lesbian bar with personality (and by personality, I don't mean prison straps or glow sticks). The Closet has all of the above and one of the most rambunctious Bingo nights around. This is not the kind of Bingo you take your grandma to at the Elks lodge. This is nerd gaming at its best—with drinks and leather porn playing in the background. The magic happens every Thursday from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., with prizes like silly dollar store items, candles, money and sex toys (O-69! O-69!). The small space can get crowded, and you'd be advised to stick around for karaoke immediately afterward. There's no "official" dance floor, but many a nerd has been known to bust a move at this rollicking neighborhood bar that stays open till 4 a.m.