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Ryan Chiaverini on loyal friends and Chicago girls

Ryan Chiaverini's Ry's Kind Town

Ryan Chiaverini's Ry's Kind of Town

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Updated: July 20, 2012 6:09AM

Those “Visit Illinois” ads must really be working; for the past few months, my apartment should have had a Four Seasons sign (OK, maybe Motel 6), because it’s become a crash pad.

From childhood friends to college buddies, people who stay for a weekend all say the same thing: “I’m moving to Chicago.” In fairness, none of them have spent a winter here. Let’s face it: If you’re worried about getting your new Louis Vuitton shoes wet, you won’t last here.

My grandmother was a foreman in the Chicago garment district and told me stories of making suits for Frank Capone. Long since those days, my family headed west to Southern California where I was raised. But there’s a big difference between L.A. and Chicago. For one thing, my West Coast friends are shocked to find out that there are places where the first question is not, “What do you do?” Nobody has ever asked me that here.

When I was in college, I dated a girl who lived in Newport Beach. She was in a noisy bar, and I was talking to her on the phone. I heard a guy yell out, “Who are you talking to, your boyfriend?” He then says: “I’ll bet I make more money then he does!” (By the way, I’m sure he did; I was working at a pizza place for $8.25 an hour.) In Chicago, you would either get laughed out of the bar or slapped silly. Probably both. 

Contrast that with a more recent experience: I went out with a girl who had just moved back to Chicago from New York. She had no idea what I did for a living, and it must not have been a priority for her because it didn’t come up in our dinner conversation. By the second or third date, she began wondering why people would randomly want to take a picture or yell out, “Love the show!” I would just say, “Well, you know I work in media.”  Later, we got into a cab and “WCL” was playing on the video screen. She looked at me like we were in “The Bourne Identity” and said, “OK, seriously, who are you?”

My point is that Chicago women date guys because they actually like them, not just because of their job or bank account.

Women here aren’t high maintenance; they’ll go to a ballgame wearing a ponytail and a cap with a bratwurst and beer in hand. They love their sports teams as much as their siblings (maybe more in some cases). And they’re not quitters. I mean after 103 years, as crazy as it is, Cubs fans still believe! Most importantly, whether she’s a North Sider or South Sider, she’ll still show up when it’s 35 degrees with that same optimism. “Yeah, it’s freezing cold today, but Sunday it’s going to be nice.” 

Ahhh, sweet home Chicago.

Ryan Chiaverini donated his $1,000 fee for writing this column to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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