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Mary Di Brita

29, Palos Hills

Real-life roles: Co-owner of a PR firm, realtor 
Starring in: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

What’s the one about the rooster? Don’t be fooled by her type-A work ethic; Di Brita is an infectious giggler who finds humor in almost every situation—especially those relating to her parents’ hometown of Montefalcone, Italy. It’s where the Columbia College grad and Chicago Ridge native heads on vacations from Circle Public Relations, which she launched with two business partners five years back (“I got sick of working for the Man,” she says). Madcap Italian exploits invariably ensue, “but the best was when I got chased by a rooster coming out of a cousin’s house,” she says. “He followed me around for 30 minutes.”

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Name one thing that’s overrated: Being graceful. I’m a huge klutz.

Gutsiest thing you’ve ever done? I told my boss to put a muzzle on it, and I have people who can vouch for it.

What’s your remedy for a tough day? My TiVo and General Hospital.

Where would you like to get engaged? Italy. Anywhere in Italy.

What makes someone a Chicagoan? For one, you have to love, love food. You have to love food. And, I’m sorry, but you have to have the accent. The food, the accent, and you have to appreciate the horridness of the Cubs.

In a dream world, who would you look like? Angelina Jolie. I hate to go there, but she’s gorgeous. Write like? My ultimate favorite author is Augusten Burroughs. He’s really good at making horrible situations tolerable. Dance like? Cheryl Burke, from Dancing with the Stars. Cook like? My mother. She’s amazing. People tell her all the time she needs to open up a restaurant. And sing like? Sarah McLachlan.

What do you do every day? Work out—I’ve got to do that. And I’m a freak with the e-mail; I check it every second. And I like to take a little time, since I’m on the phone all day long, to just sit down and read the paper in the morning, and not pay any attention to anything around me.

Favorite movie hero? Napoleon Dynamite.

Most quotable movie line? I got in a fight with my friend the other day because I never get movie references. But I like to have my own quotes.

Last movie that made you cry? Beaches. I know it’s an eighties movie, but I’m not a crier, and it gets me every time.

Favorite blog? Fashionsalad.com.

Most recommended book? Running with Scissors. If you think your childhood wasn’t normal, read this book, and you’ll feel much better.

Who are you a secret groupie for? Rob Estes.

When you’re alone, who do you play air guitar to? Pearl Jam. Any Pearl Jam.

What song will be played at your wedding? For me: Sade, Lovers Rock; for my parents: Andrea Bocelli, Romanza.

What’s your go-to homemade meal? My mom’s pasta, what we call “the mostaccioli with the gravy with the meat.”

Fill in the blanks: Vacations are for getting away from the world, not being you. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas—that type of thing.

You pull a Ferris Bueller and call in sick on a beautiful July day. What do you do? Be a tourist for a day and go to the top of the Sears Tower. I’ve never been, and I’ve lived here all my life.

What Chicago neighborhoods or suburbs have you lived in? Just Chicago Ridge and Palos Hills, but I’m making my way to Bucktown.

How long is too long to spend looking for a parking spot? I’m such a maniac; after ten minutes, I want to pass out and die.

Teacher’s pet or class clown? Really, wholeheartedly, both. Teachers loved me, but the other kids never got mad because I was such a clown.

Childhood nickname? They still call me MJ, since my name is Mary Josephine. It’s really supposed to be Maria Giusepina, but my birth certificate says “Maria Josephine.” My mother didn’t put down the Italian spelling. My dad was so mad!

What did you think you’d be when you grew up? A psychologist. I would always tell my friends their problems. They wouldn’t tell me their problems; I’d tell them.

Name one thing you have in your house from your childhood: I was a kid, probably all of 10 or 11, and I made my mom knit me a purple blanket, like one I’d seen in a store somewhere. I never got rid of that purple blanket, although it has a huge hole in it.

And one embarrassing thing you hide when guests are coming over: My purple snow angel robe that hangs in the bathroom.

Describe the state of your closet: I am an anal clean freak. The Container Store is my favorite store. Containers are my friend.

What’s your power outfit? My favorite pair of Seven jeans and, in the summer, a great tank. I feel better when I’m casual. And a cool pair of heels.

How much is too much to pay for jeans? I’m a bad blue jean junkie, but I don’t pass the $200 mark.

Have you ever collected anything? Jelly bracelets. Madonna had nothing on me. I had millions.

Last time you jumped up and cheered? I’m always jumping up and cheering. Maybe, most recently, when I got myself out of a ticket.

Last time you told a lie? A big lie, it’s been a long time. A little lie, this morning.

Last time you Googled yourself? About a month ago. I Googled myself because I was being vindictive.

Worst advice you’ve been given? “Get a job right out of school.”

If you could give someone a talking-to, who would it be? I’d like to whip my brother into shape, but I’d love to sit the president of the United States down and ask, “What is wrong with you?”

What do you do when a server at a restaurant brings you a horrible dish? My motto is: Never return it. They’ll spit in your food! I’ll suck it up, or I’ll order something else as a side.

Do you have any tattoos? I do, and I hate it. It’s a butterfly on my ankle. I was 15 years old, and I was at a party and I had my initial put on my ankle. A couple of years later, I had it turned into a butterfly. My statement is, I’m getting it removed—but I’ll probably be 80 and still have it.

What time is your alarm clock set for? Seven a.m.

And how many times do you hit the snooze button? Only once.

Dive bar or nightclub? Nightclub, if it’s a weekend. During the week, a dive.

Drinks before 5 p.m.: always, sometimes, never? In the summer.

Fill in the blanks: I’d rather have a significant other who appreciates my very goofy sense of humor than who tries to be an over-the-top romantic.

How do you show someone you’re not interested? If I’m out and about and someone hits on me, I’ll very politely say, “I have to go meet my friend,” and walk away. If it’s someone I’ve been dating, I become very unengaged. And is this bad? Sometimes I make up a lie.

What did you do on your best date? Kicked back and laughed a lot.


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