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Going south, meeting cute, and T-ing off

Since June 1996, cartoonist Jessica Abel, AB’91, has reported on the U of C scene—from prospie tours to pre-finals hangouts—in “Chicagophile.” But with this issue, she goes on hiatus to set up house and shop in Mexico City (despite the cartoon at right, she crossed the border via a non-animate form of conveyance). Jessica will be back with the June issue, but readers who want to keep tabs on her expatriate adventures can do so by checking her Web site (

In the meantime, Chicago illustrator Mark McMahon has taken over Jessica’s back-page duties. His drawing of a scene from the annual Gilbert & Sullivan production can be found in “Chicago Sketchbook,” page 44. (This summer, drivers on the city’s Kennedy Expressway can watch Mark’s 350' x 32' mural of Chicago’s trading floors unfold on the Bigsby & Kruthers building.)

“Meeting cute” is a convention of romantic comedies. One classic cinematic example of the genre is When Harry Met Sally. U of C students Harry and Sally meet in the middle of the quadrangles. Besides having attended the same school, they have one other thing in common: They’re sharing a ride to New York. So they drive out of Cobb Gate (knowing eyebrows are raised), north on Lake Shore Drive (eyebrows go even higher), and east to Manhattan, where the rest of the movie takes place. Still, they did meet cute at the U of C.

A week before Valentine’s Day, advice columnist Ann Landers printed another example in a love-it-or-skip-over-it series of “how we met” letters from her readers.

Belonging to the like-it-enough-to-skim-it camp, I started reading this particular entry in the long-lasting romance sweepstakes.

By the end of the first sentence, I was hooked: “My husband, ‘John,’ and his roommate, ‘Ray,’ attended a freshman orientation dance at the University of Chicago.”

If you’re like me, you’ll keep reading: “As they were looking over the girls, John pointed at me and told Ray, ‘That’s the girl I am going to marry.’ Ray said, ‘I bet you a buck you don’t.’

“John came over and introduced himself. We danced, and I fell in love, but I wasn’t sure how he felt. We studied together in the library almost every night, but it took a few months before he actually asked me out on a real date.” (At this point, the cognoscenti are nodding their heads in agreement. It sure sounds like a U of C romance.)

World War II began, John enlisted, and the courtship continued by letter. When John came home, they married, and the years went by. “We were expecting our third child,” the writer went on, “when John received a letter from Ray with a dollar bill and a note. It said, ‘You win!’

“I’ve always kidded John about that and told him, ‘Some guys will do anything for a buck.’ We have had a wonderful life together for the last 50 years. Sign us…Happy in Lafayette, Calif.”

We hope the happy couple comes forward, and we hope readers with their own meeting-cute-at-the-U-of-C stories will share them with the Magazine.

Not only are we interested in hearing about your favorite U of C affairs of the heart, we’re also interested in hearing about your favorite U of C apparel over the heart. Daniel Meyer, AM’75, PhD’94, of the University Archives, e-mailed us recently, noting that while the archives has a few classic U of C T-shirts in its collection, it would love to know of other enduring Chicago slogans on cotton.

So would we. Let us know what T-shirts you remember or, better yet, still wear. The messages can be global (i.e., “The University of Chicago. Hell Does Freeze Over”), or they can be more local (a T commemorating a house’s victorious, or inept, intramural team, for example). Inquiring minds want to know.—M.R.Y.