Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Friday, May 24

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Event Sun Feb 12 2012

A Lovely Alternative to Valentines Day

They say the opposite of Love is Hate. But this Valentines Day at the Logan Square Auditorium, the opposite of Love is Hilarity, Charity and possibly Intoxication.

Thanks to the love-filled partnership of the Chicago Reader, 2nd Story, WBEZ and Empty Bottle, Chicago will be graced with the Third Annual Anti-Valentines Day Party on Tuesday 14 February. Chicago comedians Seth and Kellen will be hosting this shindig and will also be the night's official demolisher of ex memorabilia; everything from T-shirts to love letters to saved nail clippings will destroyed. In between the destroying (and healing) 2nd Story will be regaling the audience with the best bad date stories.

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Niki Fritz

Dating Thu Dec 22 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: Lessons Learned

Previous Entry: Making Yourself Happy
Next Entry: My Chicago Bucket List

I have officially been online dating and writing about it for three months now. THREE MONTHS! A QUARTER OF A YEAR! It seems like an impossibly long time and yet in retrospect, I feel like a "agreed to the terms" of Match and possibly sold my soul just moments ago. But going back over my carefully documented journey on Gapers Block, I realized I've learned quite a bit of occasionally unflattering and often extremely useful things about myself, dating and life. Also I realized many things I thought to be truth three months ago have disappeared, new truths have appeared in their place. I have a feeling none of this is permanent.

Below is a list of "lessons learned" over the past three months. I think more appropriately these are actually temporary truths believed to make me feel better about my aimless existence on Match and in life; no doubt I will have a whole new belief system next year.

But the one epitome of all truths learned the past three months seems to be I am a giant confused ball of dating, kitschy metaphors and calorie-heavy beers and that is a lovely mess.

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Niki Fritz / Comments (1)

Dating Thu Dec 15 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: Making Yourself Happy

Previous Entry: "We Met on Match..."
Next Entry: Lessons Learned

I have promised myself to not make this a dating advice column mainly because I suck at dating. I've spent the past year making out with strangers in bars and deleting weird facial hair guy-cute?'s number from phone; these are not exactly stellar bachelorette moves here.

But what I have gotten pretty darn good at this past year is making myself happy or at least trying really really hard to make myself content. And the single biggest contributor to this new found sense of non-misery is realizing that my happiness does not depend on anyone else.

It sounds oddly kitschy and yet almost counterintuitive; the idea that you just need to find "the one" is something every rom-com tries to Katherine Heigl into us at every blockbuster. But the truth is nobody, not even that perfect-on-screen good ole boy/girl next door, is going to make you happy if you yourself are a steaming pile of pity and dread.

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Niki Fritz

Dating Thu Dec 08 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: "We Met on Match..."

Previous Entry: To Be Normal
Next Entry: Making Yourself Happy

Over lunch one day, a co-worker regaled our department with the best "how we met" story I have ever heard. She met her beautiful Spanish husband in the airport at the money exchange hut. She attempted to help him via her one year of Spanish language study and he attempted to thank her in newly learned broken English. When she said "I'm from the States," his still novice English-hearing ears heard "I'm Swedish" and so the Spaniard began to woo the "Swede" in broken English. The Swedish/American lady and the Spanish gentleman fell fast for each other and within the year she was his media naranaja.

Over the next decade they followed each other around the world, got married and created one of the most beautiful babies to grace the playgrounds of Chicago. It is the kind of perfect fairy tale that makes Catherine Heigl drool.

Of course this perfect story prompted my other coworkers to quickly pipe in with their own "how we met" stories and lunch quickly turned into a bit of a contest to out-cute each others' first meets. Each story had its own little twist, oddity or pleasantry. Although none of them outdid meeting a Spanish lover in an airport; something that in my Midwest, adventure-starved mind resembles a Lifetime movie starring a young Antonio Banderas circa 1986. But each story did reflect a certain type of truth about the couple itself.

All of this "couple" talk made me ponder how my own potential Match meet story would mesh into this labyrinth of romantic (and most likely idealistic) first meet stories. And more what would a Match meet story say about a potential future relationship.

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Niki Fritz

Dating Thu Dec 01 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: To Be "Normal"

Previous Entry: The Best of the Worst
Next Entry: We Met On Match...

Last week, my sister-friend and I were chatting about the trials and tribulations of a budding relationship when she said something that gave me an eerie "eureka" moment.

Sister-friend said, "I feel like there's so much pressure to be normal." To which I responded "Totes."

Normal. It is an adjective I have grown to hate and yet one which I feel like I am in constant pursuit. In the beginnings of relationships, it seems to be the only thing that matters. It becomes even more pertinent when online dating because of the speed of rejection and the surplus of other people who play normal better than you.

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Niki Fritz / Comments (2)

Dating Wed Nov 23 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: The Best of the Worst

Previous Entry: The THIRD Date
Next Entry: To Be Normal

I have to admit that I've never really had a terrible, awful, make me reconsider the spinster lifestyle, kind of least on I've had awkward dates, I've had ugly dates, I've had dates I just wish would end so I could put on my sweats and watch Parks and Rec. But I've never had one of those truly terrible dates that you always fear when joining an online dating site.

For the most part I've found that my Match dates, if nothing else, have tried. They are on Match to date and therefore put a bit of effort into being entertaining or at least inoffensive. Even when I knew in the first two minutes that this would be our only date, I still usually had some genuinely enjoyable conversations. And even though three first dates a week can get exhausting, I generally still felt like humanity was good by Friday.

But despite my relative luck, I have heard some online horror stories from friends, dates and readers. With their permission and often blessing, I'm going to regale some of you with some terrifyingly real stories. Coincidentally, all of these happen to be first dates, which, for obvious reasons, were not followed by a second date. I hope the sharing of these experiences is cathartic and healing for anyone who has ever had a terrible date.

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Niki Fritz / Comments (1)

Dating Thu Nov 17 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: The THIRD date

Previous Entry: The First Kiss
Next Entry: The Best of the Worst

I vividly remember being in high school and hearing the third date "rule" on one particularly scandalous episode of Sex in the City. (For those not schooled in the Sex Bible according to Carrie, the Third Date Rule, is basically you must have sex on the third date, no exceptions.) My 15-year-old puritanical self couldn't help but think what kind of slut sleeps with a guy on the third date.

However years later, after freeing myself from the sexless prison known as Green Bay via to the liberating hippies of UW-Madison, I now find myself trying to quantify dates or round up, if you will. Can I count that first date as two dates since it was really dinner AND a movie, which is like two separate activities and therefore two separate dates? What about that 3-hour phone call where we talked about his fear of turning into his father and my fear of Asian cartoons as date number two? And there was that one particularly witty Facebook exchange of wall posts...the sharing of honey badger and keyboard cat is really one of the more intimate Facebook acts.

All this justification just to get me to the magic number three so I can justify my slutty sexy fun time.

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Niki Fritz

Dating Thu Nov 10 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: The First Kiss

Previous Entry: The Second Date
Next Entry: The THIRD Date

The weight we give to the first kiss seems to be disproportionately heavy considering the silly physicality of it, the putting together of two relatively unimportant body parts. And yet for as important of an act as this seems to be, I don't think I have been fully sober for a first kiss since I was 12.

Yes 12, when I kissed my first boyfriend at Jackie Delie's beginning of summer party. Oh, the magic of Truth or Dare in the basement with 20 other sixth graders watching! At least I didn't have to eat a pickle dipped in peanut butter and hot sauce.

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Niki Fritz

Dating Thu Nov 03 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: The Second Date

Previous Entry: Match in the Midwest: The Art of Polite Judgement
Next Entry: The First Kiss

Ahh, the glorious second date or, as I like to call it, the Match first date.

The literal Match first date, the one that occurs on a humble and hasty Tuesday night, the one which involves consuming one to two and a half drinks that are possibly paid for on separate checks, that date that resembles a multiple choice exam of match this date with that occupation, family structure and weird phobia (really, you can't use wire hangers?), the one that usually ends in a slightly awkward hug, handshake or high five, you know that one, that date is not really the first date.

That date is the recreating of a "normal" meeting, it is the date on which you pretend, at least subconsciously, to have met organically. As you walk into that bar, for your first meet and greet, you opportunistically forget that you know this man or woman's pet preference, religious background and top five songs. You pretend you are seeing this person for the first time, that you catch their smoldering eyes through the masses at a classy but understated bar, engage in some witty but unassuming banter and perhaps tickle each other's fancies a bit as the first step in the totally normal, socially acceptable ritual called DUI, dating under the influence.

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Niki Fritz / Comments (1)

Dating Thu Oct 27 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: Match in the Midwest: the Art of Polite Judgment

Previous Entry: The First Date
Next Entry: The Second Date

My original Match profile was rejected not once, not twice but three whole times. I have to say, that third time stung a bit. I thought there were relationship experts somewhere at Match headquarters who were reading my profile, tsking and muttering "This poor girl doesn't have a chance," before giving my profile the big rubber "REJECTED."

Finally I figured out my profile was rejected because I had wrote the word "shit" in my profile...twice. Apparently swearing isn't online dating approved.

Perhaps ironically I recently rejected a potential suitor because he said he was raised "somewhat" religious and therefore never swore or ate candy bars. I felt bad, but sometimes I need a fucking Crunch bar.

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Niki Fritz

Dating Thu Oct 20 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: The First Date

Previous Entry: The Two Necessities for Online Dating: Courage and Chicken Wings
Next Entry: Match in the Midwest: The Art of Polite Judgement

Tuesday nights seem to be the official first date night and for good reason. Tuesdays are far removed from the wild and crazy jello shot potential of Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is not Sunday, the day of god and hangovers. It does not carry the depressingly sober (or still hung-over) weight of Monday. It will never be suggestively referred to as hump day.

Tuesday holds the potential of the week within the safety of a normally boring day. And so the past five Tuesdays in my embarrassingly oversized agenda have become Match first date days.

Over the course of the past month and a half, the first date routine has taught me a bit about what it is like to be a semi-successful serial dater (defined by not being kicked out of any bars and occasionally scoring a second date). From my experience, I have gleaned a few words of wisdom for curious readers out there.

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Niki Fritz / Comments (3)

Dating Thu Oct 13 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: Two Necessities for Online Dating: Courage and Chicken Wings

Previous Entry: Pressing the Power Button
Next Entry: The First Date

I finally outed myself as an online dater to my friends one Thursday night over $3 spicy chicken wings at Toons. The eternal "beer glass half full" of the group patted my hand and said, "I heard that one in five relationships starts on" The "glass half empty, time for round two" of the bunch scoffed and said "You heard that on the commercial."

A basket full of abnormally large chicken wings and a few rounds later we had reached a general consensus that online dating was not that weird and actually probably a generally good idea given the quality of interactions at most bars on any sauce-soaked evening. As I took my last growth-hormone-enriched bite of chicken, I felt genuinely lucky to have such supportive and open minded friends, but I couldn't help wondering if what the rest of city, world and universe was judging me for my digital dating.

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Niki Fritz / Comments (2)

Dating Mon Sep 19 2011

Chicago Dating 2.011: Pressing the Power Button

Next Entry: Two Necessities for Online Dating: Courage and Chicken Wings

I, like the other seemingly millions of Chicago members of, never intended to join an online dating site. I was a romantic, clinging to the notion that real love was found at the Big Shitty at bar time or over a sticky table of beer pong in a stranger's backyard. After all I mused, what would happen to the world if all our interactions became digital and people could pick out mates like they would a used futon on craigslist.

And then, a series of kismet events happened. First I went on a slew of wretched dates, the final straw being an electronic instrumental concert with a pessimistic young suitor I had met at a bar. Then there was my best friend abandoning me for the glory of the east coast and my suddenly very open social calendar. But the clincher, was coming across an NPR article validating online dating services.

If NPR says it is OK, this yuppie is jumping on board.

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Niki Fritz / Comments (1)

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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