TomKat conversions

Man, that Tom Cruise sure knows how to convert 'em. Bride-to-be Katie Holmes cuddled up to Scientology awfully quickly (and now, with wedding bells on the horizon, we're taking bets an official switch is on the way). But not every sweetie pie is as eager as our Holmes girl to jump into something new. Having trouble convincing your partner to pursue one of your pastimes? These date ideas let you introduce your hobbies without a fuss.

Art of persuasion
So you like Monet, and she prefers Miller Lite? Since the MCA frowns on open containers, turn her on to Big Chicks, where a full bar helps the art appreciation go down easy. Owner Michelle Fire's outstanding, eclectic collection lets you play docent to your partner. Still hesitant? Sweeten the deal with a meal at Fire's tasty next-door eatery, Tweet, where names from the Chicago art community adorn the menu.

Pinot for Joe Schmo
You're an avid vino aficionado, but you couldn't even bribe your beer-chugging sweetie to see "Mondovino"? He might be more agreeable when he learns that at Bev Art Brewer and Winemaker, you get to leave with 24-28 bottles of your own. The spot offers cozy lessons in the art of wine, including instruction on how to taste, appreciate and make it. And, if you have the will power to let your wine age, just remind him of all the years you'll have to go ga-ga over the grapes together. $75 per person; $80 per couple; $43-$100 for ingredients.

Achieve the big om
Feel like the two of you never find inner peace at the same time? Tempt your stressed-out boy toy with a trip to Healing Earth Resources, a New Age Center that should send you both into immediate relaxation mode with classes like "The Art of Soul Communication." He's still cynical? The sexy-sounding "Third Thursday Tantra Evening" should get his attention. Pick up some candles and crystals, and continue the deep breathing at home. (We'll leave things up to you from there.) Free-$150.

Play chicken
If you've gone veg, but your gal chows down on burgers and ribs, Alice & Friends Café offers a comestible compromise. Most of the menu is vegan and everything is vegetarian, but with delectable dishes like barbecued "un-beef," she'll never know the difference. And, with prices in the $7-$13 range, carnivores might even learn to dig the soy- and wheat-based meat substitutes. If you have slightly more sly conversion intentions (not that we're naming names, T.C.), direct her attention to the dining room TV that plays Supreme Master Ching Hai's teachings. Let the soul- and artery-cleansing begin.

Joystick division
You: Happy spending the weekend with a steady IV drip of "San Andreas." Your special lady: Would rather have her thumbs broken than lay one finger on a joystick. Change her mind by renting a cozy pod for two at Escape, a videogame boutique where you can cuddle up while killing off bad guys. Destroying an entire army of robots might seem a bit more appealing if there's snuggling involved. $10 annual membership required, plus $9.99 per hour for game pods; $50 per hour for luxury suites.

Legendary lounging
Convincing an action fan to watch a classic flick can be tough. But he'll savor the opportunity to spend a night in your arms under the stars at the Chicago Outdoor Film Festival; first feature is "Citizen Kane" (July 12). Still not into it? Make a deal: He can sky gaze during this screening, and you'll both come back to watch a slightly newer classic, "Star Wars," on Aug. 23. Movies begin at sunset (8-9 p.m.). Check for schedule. Free.

Matt Pais is a metromix intern.

Originally published June 17, 2005.

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