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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Saturday, July 20

Gapers Block

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That period after the holidays and before the breaking of the winter is terrible, isn't it? This coming from somebody who likes Chicago winters. But between the gray slush, the torturous minutes waiting for the car to warm up, and the ineffectively timed heat lamps on the raised El platforms, those holiday-less weeks between January 2nd and March 21st are pretty ruthless.

Of course, the best thing to do is to brood. Especially if you are married, or living in sin. What better way to test your partner's loyalty and willingness to put up with you? Sit in front of the window and sigh a lot. Whenever they ask if you want to go out, start whining about the cold. Turn every story of theirs or question about your day into a bald-faced complaint about the weather, couched in extreme, uncreative exaggerations like, "I sneezed and it froze two inches from my face, so I stepped into it and sliced my retina."

Some more tips to help beat those winter doldrums:

1. Walk Arm-in-Arm with a Pretty Girl/Galut.
Try, at least once a week, to link arms with a pretty young lady and walk somewhere. Doesn't matter where, it could be to buy foot fungus cream at Walgreens. But wherever it is, link arms and hold each other close. It could be your wife, girlfriend, sister, mother, whoever. But believe me, doing this once a week is a great way to beat the blues. For the ladies, it's a little different. I was going to suggest a handsome gent, but some preliminary polling of people I know said that isn't necessarily intrinsically rewarding. The consensus seemed rather to be a "galut." So ladies, find yourselves a friendly galut and link up.

2. Find Mulled Wine; Drink It.
Any number of ethnic restaurant/bars (most notably Simon's in Andersonville) will be serving mulled wine over the winter seasons. Mulled wine is just normal wine spiced and warmed up. The downside of this is that it will remind you of the holidays; the upside is it's delicious.

3. Go to a Neighborhood Joint at Odd Hours.
Every neighborhood has one place that is consistently under-patronized and yet stays in business year after year. Why? I contend it is because on winter days people jam the place at odd hours, when most people aren't around. Be one of those people. In my old neighborhood, there was a restaurant that never had any customers and only a small, uncomfortable bar. I started going there in the early hours, ducking in during those frigid, bright winter afternoons and stepping out into bright, frigid winter days just a little tipsy is really a good way to break up your day. (If the place serves mulled wine, then you get double points and I'll send you an honorary certificate from RotSC.)

4. Perform Pseudo-Summer Activities.
Most importantly, go to the beach. Touhy Street Beach is my favorite, but North Street Beach will work just fine, too. Sitting in sand with long johns on under your pants is actually pretty comfortable. And Lake Michigan never seems larger or more awesome as in the dead of winter, when it is even more unapproachable.

5. Pick Up a Card Game, Lose a Lot of Money Playing It.
I don't know why, but gambling is better (no pun intended) in the winter. So learn spades, or hearts, or euchre or something and find a couple like-minded, brooding miscreants with disposable income and start playing a few nights a month. Blow a bunch of money playing it. You may or may not need to cut something out of your monthly budget; keep your gas off a few nights a week. That'll probably finance it. Maybe you can lift the wallet out of the purse of the pretty girl you walk arm-in-arm with. Whatever it is, embrace that degenerate gambler in all of us.

6. Write Erotic Love Letters.
The best thing about this one is, you don't even really need any talent to do it. But don't address the letters to anybody, write them in the style of those Penthouse Letters, talking about something that "happened." Men and women can both enjoy this activity. The best part is, if you write enough of them, you'll start to believe them and get the details so down pat that at the next euchre game, you can tell your degenerate friends about that ex-gymnast girl at the office who has an entire room in her house covered in satin.

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About the Author(s)

Ramsin Canon covers and works in politics in Chicago. If you have a tip, a borderline illegal leak, or a story that needs to be told, contact him at .

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