(Stephanie Diani for the…)
(Note from the Wingman: In this column, I use the word "friends" the way Facebook does. It's basically the people you know socially who won't kill you and take your stuff if given the opportunity.)
I'm not surprising anyone by saying Chicago is a city of "Who do you know?" Your associations here define the experience, and your friends can make or break your social standing.
You remember "Super Friends," right? That group of big-time heroes who united to stomp evil (and hang out with teenagers for some reason)? Apply that to going out. Everyone has to serve a purpose for the greater good. That's why I'd like to suggest that you adopt seasonal friends.
Look, some people in your life are simply more fun to be around in certain seasons than others. I know people who don't leave their houses when it gets cold and people who wouldn't be caught dead at a summer fest. The key is to know whom to hang out with and why.
This isn't a new concept, by the way. Remember when you were little, you'd all go over to the house of the kid who had a basketball hoop or a trampoline? Seriously, the kid with the pool could literally be a cannibal, but when it got hot out, he or she was the most popular person for miles. Same logic applies here.
Let's break it down.
Summer: It's 403 degrees outside, so your main focus should be to find friends with access to one or more of the following items in order of importance: A boat, a lake house, a pool (rooftop or not—it doesn't matter), a deck/patio/backyard space, an ice cream truck.
Fall: It's cooling off, but the time has come to start hitting the scene a bit more. Look out for people who graduated from good football schools and go with them to a game. Got a co-worker who's about that nature life? Join him or her on a hike or a camping trip. And be sure to cozy up to people with a lot of single, non-drug-addict friends. Gotta find that winter boo, right?
Winter: If you leave the house, align yourself with people who like drinking. My friends and I live at a Lincoln Park dive in the colder months. Also, Bears fans who actually tailgate (Bears tailgates are fun as hell, especially if it's below zero). If you don't leave the house, seek couples. They have no problem throwing dinner Snuggie parties with crudites ... or whatever it is people in relationships do. Scrabble?
Spring: EVERYONE. Go out and hang out with everyone, especially on St. Pat's. Meet up with friends who like baseball. Or friends who don't like baseball but like attending events. Begin accumulating your list for the coming summer.
While you're at it: If you're single, have a go-to date for everything. Weddings, social events and Kentucky Derby parties are better with dates.
So there you have it, life made better through the power of friendship. Now, do me a favor and invite me to hang out on your damn boat already. It's smoldering out there!
ERNEST WILKINS IS CHICAGO'S WINGMAN. ERWILKINS@TRIBUNE.COM | @ERNESTWILKINS