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Big Nights, Small City

Thursday night I attended Avenue M’s one-year anniversary party, and by the time my friend and I arrived around 8 p.m., there was already a line spilling out the door. We decided to forego the free drinks (which ended at 9 p.m., anyway) and stop by nearby De Lux, a clean, comfortable, no-frills corner bar owned by Gen Furla (I love women bar owners), who used to helm the now-shuttered Parkway Tavern on Fullerton.

Chicago feels like such a small city sometimes: When we walked in, we bumped into The Husbands - the male half of The Marrieds - with whom I’ve been friends for years; I’ve known some of them since long before they met their wives. They were having a guys’ night out at their usual Thursday hang, drinking man drinks, eating spicy chicken wings, and watching whatever game was on the flat-screen TVs. It wasn’t long before two of The Husbands (one of whom is actually a fiancé for another month or so) started digging into my dating life. That’s always fun.

We came to the conclusion that I’m a great catch who must have some serious issues since I’m still single. (I believe firmly that anyone over the age of 32 who’s still single has a hang-up or two.) And that, just maybe, I should consider settling. (Not a chance.) We also discussed my eight-nights-a-week going-out habit - which, lately, has felt more like nine nights, what with the weather getting nicer, and events and openings ramping up - and how it might not be the most conducive schedule for a girl looking for a real relationship, which is what I’m trying to find these days. But, hey, for better or worse, it’s my job.

After a couple of drinks with the guys and a round of dating-gossip dodgeball, we walked over to Avenue M. The place was packed: Over the course of the night, the bar welcomed about 1,000 partygoers. When we showed up, not one more body could have fit in the downstairs bar, which is the area I like best. Even the back patio was filled to capacity, and when it started to rain, the entire outdoor party funneled inside, spreading into the dining area and upstairs lounge - all 10,000 square feet of space was in use. Jockeying for prime positioning got difficult, but it was a great scene and a reunion of sorts for two of the owners, Dan Schwab and John Merlo, who have been best friends since attending New Trier together.

It was a reunion for me, too: I ran into an ex I was very serious about a lifetime ago who’s now married to another former Trevian; I spent a chunk of the night catching up with them and sharing some laughs - the kind that leave you clutching your stomach. And speaking of unplanned run-ins: The night took an interesting turn when I bumped into a tragically hip and hot guy I’d met a couple of weekends back at Lumen. I spent the rest of the evening chatting with him, a cute writer-turned-lawyer who likes to have about as much fun as I do, if that’s possible.

No matter how often I go out, the city just keeps getting smaller.

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