Street Smart Chicago

Group Therapy: Early to Bed teaches us nerds how to flirt

Love & Sex, Uptown Add comments

Teaching nerds social intimacy is a pop-culture commodity nowadays. But Universal Studios’ “Sydney White” and VH1’s “The Pick Up Artist” are bandwagoners compared to Chicago’s North Side sex boutique Early to Bed and its “Flirting for Nerds” seminar.

Just shy of an expansive dildo display, ten eager students gather in a horseshoe-shaped group. “I’m convinced that nerds are the best flirts because they are already passionate,” says researcher turned preacher Rebecca Steinmetz, a 26-year-old sex educator and University of Chicago grad student who teaches nerds how “to channel that passion.”

Bubbling over with smiles, engaging glances and occasional hair flips, she relaxes her audience. During the session’s introductory icebreaker, confessions of reading and baseball-statistic addictions further ease the atmosphere. She jumps into the flirtation basics and peels away her first of several oversized tutorial Post-its. Appropriate setting, pre-outing confidence and flirting props help initiate good conversations. “There’s even a trick to remember forgotten names,” says Steinmetz. The pseudo-beatnik guy snidely asks, “It isn’t comparing drivers licenses is it?” and scans the room for impressed classmates.
After learning the conversation-starting potential of pets and the mastery of indirect eye contact, it’s time to translate casual chat into blatant, respectful sexual interest. Pen caps are removed as folded scrap paper and notebooks are ready-to-record. Off goes another Post-it to reveal “The Flirting Continuum.” Reminiscent of Donnie Darko’s human emotion spectrum, the “Continuum” divides talking into four levels of sexual overtone. But moving from friendly, asexual talk to the most intimate frontier means avoiding the creep persona. Male student interest suddenly peaks. (Andrea Hart)

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