Truth in Advertising

The summer wound down with a pop. We knew it was coming, but when those balmy Chicago nights ended with a cold snap, it took us by surprise. Lis and I spent the entire warm weather months doing what twenty-something single Lincoln Parkians did — attending street festival after street festival, Cubs games, and rooftop parties, and when the wind began to blow, we dejectedly battened down the hatches and waited for Halloween — the next party between parties.


It’d been a good summer, full of innocent flirtations and late-night talks. Oftentimes, Lis and I huddled around the fireplace, blowing cigarette smoke up the chimney and listening to The Bodeans or the Murmurs softly strum from the CD player. Then we’d fall asleep in the living room, she on the black leather couch and me with a pillow and comforter on the floor, the way I’d loved to sleep since I was a kid.


One of those evenings, an appley September night, Lis and I decided maybe we should start to date. We’d flitted about all summer and now were dangerously close to being too content with each other. Decision made, we flattened the Chicago Reader’s “Matches” section against the coffee table and began circling ads. And as we did, we both laughed in that way you do when you’re kind of serious, but don’t want the other person to know.




This one looks interesting.” I read to her as she grabbed some beer from the fridge.


Does he like the Cubs? He’s gotta like the Cubs,”


That narrows it down…” I scanned the ad. “A-ha! He’s a sports lover.”


Good enough.” She peered over my shoulder.


Now find one for you.”


It took but a minute.

Here we go…! Just what I’m looking for…”

I circled my guy.




The title read “Johnny Depp Looks.” It was in bold type and all caps. I think there was also some mention of manly hobbies, like football and futures trading, but really, he had me at “Depp.” After that, the ad could have said “deadbeat boozer,” and “collects snot,” for all I cared.


Lis talked me into calling her ad and my ad’s voice mail, and true to form, I babbled my way through the introductions. I’d called Lis’s guy first and said some nonsense about something ridiculous, making her sound like a real idiot not on purpose, and we both knew when I hung up that she was totally screwed and not getting a call back. So good and practiced, I called “Johnny Depp Looks,” and again rambled my way through some kind of semblance of a hello, call me, I want to date you.


The next day at work, the whole thing seemed silly. Who me? Date someone from a newspaper ad? Good thing I sounded like someone who rode the short yellow bus when I’d called him, because I didn’t have to worry about him calling back.


But he did.


He sounded like Sly Stallone. Sort of a tough guy drawl with a Southside Chicago accent thrown in for good measure. I ate it up. And he was funny and smart and employed. I was going to marry Johnny Depp and have Depplets! We made a date, and I hung up the phone to scramble to my colleague’s cubicle.




Johnny Depp Looks sounds normal!”


My co-worker swiveled in his chair and appraised me bemusedly. I knew the look.


“No really! This is the one!”


I told him about the accent and the job and the Deppness, and God bless him, he played along.


I bet he’s got big guns.”


Really?” I paused. “He didn’t seem violent…”


Big arm muscles! Arm muscles. It’s an expression.”


I liked that.

Yes, big guns! I bet he does!




But he didn’t.


(To be continued…)


7 Responses to “Truth in Advertising”

  1. Shana says:

    Please don’t let him be 4’11”.

  2. stoneskin says:

    *quickly gathers up snot collection and throws in the trash*

    He was a weedy, ugly, snot-collecting geek?

  3. I think Johnny is a little taller than that! Like 5′ 6″ anyway.

    whennnn will it be continued? I whined. I can’t wait for you to meet this guy.

    I used to work in a call center & I know the power of a manly voice.

  4. “And as we did, we both laughed in that way you do when you’re kind of serious, but don’t want the other person to know.”

    Swoon! I am in love with the above sentence! Can’t wait to read the rest of this love story!

  5. Shana says:

    I’ve had a summer story swirling in my head since July and you’ve prompted me to start working on it. Thank you. And I am totally copying you with the two-parter.

  6. Da Goddess says:

    But did he have mossy green teeth?

  7. chitownlis says:

    Too funny!!! Such a blast from the past… I can’t wait to hear the rest (even though I know how it ends)… AND coming off a great night at Wrigley tonight!!! Cubs Win, Cubs Win!!! Wish you were with me!!!! Miss you!!! xoxo

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