My typical weekend does not involve sports bars. This past weekend, however, I went to six. On a self-induced wing-a-thon at some of Chicago's newest sports bars, I spent my evenings popping aspirin for flatscreen-induced migraines and trying to come off as though I know anything about the NBA, NHL or UFC by mimicking the grunts and groans of people near me wearing jerseys. Overall, I think I did pretty well. By the time Monday rolled around, I'd even managed to come out learning a few things:
Everyone looks disgusting eating wings. This is a truly savage process, so don't bother trying. Consider yourself lucky if you manage to avoid leaving sauce on your face. I somehow managed to dip my hair in blue cheese dressing Saturday night. This may not have been the first time.
All the single ladies (this is where the dudes are). Stick around 'til the clock strikes midnight post-Bulls win and you'll have to try pretty hard not to get hit on, Cinderella. Whether you're into the addled affections of the Prince Charming suited in his Affliction-branded best is another discussion entirely.
If you don't like the game, don't come. It doesn't matter if everyone in your group insists they're just going for a few drinks and some gossip. You're all going to end up staring at a TV most of the night. Because people like shiny things. And there are shiny things everywhere.
If you really love the game, don't come. Unless it's a major game and you're at a packed spot, somebody is going to end up annoying you. Whether it's the manager who refuses to turn the sound on, the bachelorette party sitting at the table next to you or the drunk guys in the corner heckling your favorite player, your game will not go uninterrupted. If you're really counting on getting to pay attention, stay home.
Don't underestimate the menu. Shrugging your shoulders and going straight for a light beer-and-sliders combo isn't necessary (though it can be tasty). Give those salads, sandwiches and sides a chance. They just might surprise you.
People still dress up. God knows why. If we could all just agree that threadbare logo apparel is the appropriate uniform, the sports bar world would be a much more appealing place. But people keep insisting on things like heels, styled hair and pants without elastic. I'm not asking much here. Just take it down a notch.
You probably missed every good special. $1 burger Mondays! $3 mega-draft Wednesdays! 1/2 price appetizer Tuesdays! We'll-pay-you-to-drink-it Thursdays! So why are we here on a Saturday, again?
Emily Van Zandt is a RedEye reporter. By the end of the weekend she really started appreciating the side of celery with the wings. @redeyedrinks, email@example.com