Hey, this is about the ad, about the room I mean. I saw your flyer at Small World Coffee the other day and I liked that it was printed on orange paper. Did you make that paper yourself? It looked really expensive and my friend Trip said he thought it was parchment. Was it? I took a screen printing class at the Arts Council once, well, I think I signed up for one anyway. I’m sure you know all about parchment, I guess it’s a generational thing. Anyway, I saw the ad and that’s why I’m calling you. Basically, I would like to move in, as soon as possible. I just had a few questions first, you know, to clear things up. I think the ad said no pets or something. So that’s not going to work for me. You know that shed down Nassau Street, behind Ivy Inn? Where that guy was robbed by some dude in a tiger suit during Reunions? I was hanging out there one evening with some grad students and a guy wanted some of our stuff but he didn’t have any money so I felt sorry for him. You know how drinking sometimes makes you feel sorry for those who have nothing? Well, we traded and now I have this cat. I am not sure it was his cat to begin with but whatever. The cat is not really a pet — he mostly sits at the window yowling, or scratches the wallpaper. He’s not cuddly so he’s not a pet, so I guess that solves your problem? He does not go outside to do his business so you don’t have to worry about opening the door for him. He’s only stolen food a couple of times — the hamster was a bit weird but I know lots more about cats now. Wikipedia is great. So that’s one thing and I’m glad we got that cleared up. The other thing is visitors — the ad said no visitors. Why? Look, I realize that some people have different social needs but as roommates we have to respect each other, right? I like to hang out with friends, just low key, playing drums, having foam parties, grilling on the balcony, you know, nothing academic. You don’t have to worry about letting my friends in case I’m sleeping; all my friends get copies of my keys so they can come and go, you know, just stop by for a snack if they’re hungry or want to play drums. We just have to be respectful of each other — like my old roommate, she was totally disrespecting me. She must have hated music or something, which is weird because I’m pretty sure she was using the piano in the living room for teaching music lessons, at least before the fire. Anyway, there were some other problems but we can work them out later, so I’m just going to go ahead and say I’ll take the room. I’ve taken down all your flyers to make sure you don’t get other people leaving you voice messages — I even found one you had put up at the public library. You can call me back… actually, this is a bit embarrassing as this is the only call I am allowed to make. Maybe you can come down to the station to give me a key? And maybe I could borrow two hundred bucks? Thanks Professor Norwich or whatever your name is, looking forward to — [click].

Emma Ljung is a classical archaeologist splitting her time between home in Rocky Hill, teaching at Princeton University, and Portugal where she runs an excavation. She writes: “I have my favorite places in Princeton for some quiet writing, and several of them happen to be located in places where people put up posters and flyers. I started imagining what it might be like to trace the stories told by the ads themselves.”

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