Tuesday, May 12, 2015


As I wade through my thirties, the number "40" being in the not-too-distant future, I have to say that vanity never completely wanes.

At the risk of sounding incredibly narcissistic and shallow, I confess I still want to feel beautiful. I still want to be desirable. I suppose this sentiment will change if/when I reach the age of 80. But in the meantime, here I am.

After all, can anyone honestly say they don't care if they're repulsive and repugnant? And if you, reader, are such a person, then I tip my hat to you.

So, as I've mentioned before, I've been called ugly before on numerous occasions. I won't revisit those memories, but suffice it to say that being called ugly from ages 8 through 18 is pretty shitty.

It's so arbitrary. As Khaled Hosseini said in his novel, And the Mountains Echoed, "Beauty is an enormous, unmerited gift given randomly, stupidly." A girl can be the same exact person, but after a few pubescent changes and some weight loss, she can transform from an object of scorn to one of desire.

We abhor beauty, yet we covet it. And so, while the moments grow more sporadic as I age, I still get a kick out of a compliment.

My work is pretty business casual (emphasis on the "casual"). I push the envelope a little. Slacks with simple shirts. Jeans with a cardigan. Simple flats and even sneakers. I've toyed with the idea of wearing black yoga pants and hoping to pass them off as black slacks, but I was advised against it. As you can see, I love feeling casual and comfortable.

Today was an unseasonably warm day, and I decided to wear . . . a dress. With heels.

I never wear dresses or heels. Ever. Only when the weather is so uncomfortably warm do I throw out the notion of embarrassment over my less-than-ideal legs, thighs, and arms, and decide to don a dress.

So I wore a blue dress with simple nude pumps. Kind of like this:

It's so funny. When you happen to look good on a given day, women and men will compliment you in completely different ways.

Today, women exclaimed, "That dress is so cute on you" or "I love that dress!" They would gush for a minute or two and then we'd talk about the warm weather and how it brings out the cute summery dresses.

Men, on the other hand, say absolutely nothing. They compliment you in other ways. I said hi to a male coworker in the kitchen, whom I've worked with for years, and for a solid five seconds, he didn't say anything. He just said "Hi" and eyed me up and down - not in a pervy way - but in a somewhat shocked way. Clearly I've been dressing like a hobo for the last few years.

There was another male coworker with whom I've also worked for years. This particular morning, I saw him at the end of the hallway. I smiled and waved before going into my office. He stopped mid-step, paused for a second, half-smiled back, and shyly looked away.

What? It was bizarre and funny at the same time. All because of a dress and heels.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

More fiction. A work non-event.

He folded his arms and leaned into me, a bottle of beer dangling in his right hand. "What if I told you that I was in love with you?"

I stared back at him. "I would tell you that you are insane."

He leaned back a little. "That would be your response?"

"Yes." I paused. "We are speaking hypothetically, aren't we?"

He smirked. "Yes."

"Great," I said, "because that would have been a very uncomfortable conversation." I took a sip from my glass and looked at him over the rim.

He sighed and turned to face the rest of the room. "Too bad," he said as he unfolded his arms and took a swig of his beer.

I scoffed. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"Just saying," he said.

" 'Just saying'?"

"It would've been good," he said, looking at me with a sideways glance.

I laughed, feeling embarrassed and flushed. "That's absurd."

"Just saying," he said, shrugging. "Hey." He put his beer down. "Let me show you something."


He took my hand and guided me to the back of the restaurant. "Um," I said trailing behind him tentatively, "all of our coworkers are out there." He didn't respond and walked me through a couple hallways, down a flight of dimly lit stairs, and toward the end of a long, dark corridor. He pushed open a door and we were suddenly outside, in the chill night air, on an empty patio.

"The patio doesn't open until June," he said. "But they always leave this door open."

I saw the mid-size buildings loom like dark pillars. The sound of traffic, foot traffic, music from car radios, strangers cavorting and laughing in the street, they all seemed to hum together in a dissonant symphony in the evening air.

"Wow," I said, looking at the sky. Then I turned to him and saw that he was looking at me. He was still holding my hand.

"So what was it you wanted to show me?" I said, slowly pulling my hand away.

"This." Then he kissed me.

For a few shocked seconds, I didn't know what to do. Then I pushed him away. "What are you doing? You're being insane."

"I suppose I am," he said, still leaning into me. "But tell me something."

"What, what are you talking about?"

"Tell me this is all in my head. That there's nothing here."

So dramatic, I thought to myself. This was straight out of a soap opera. "There's nothing here," I heard myself say.

He eyed me for a moment and said, "Okay." He walked up to the patio door and held it open."Let's go back up."


"We don't want to stay out too long," he said. "People might talk."

"Right," I said. I walked through the door he held for me. We walked through the corridor, the dim stairs, and hallways in stilted silence. When we rejoined our group, a coworker saw us and said smiling, "Where've you guys been?"

"Just making out," he said wryly. The group burst into laughter.

"Haha-okay-I'm-going-to-get-a-drink," I said in one breath as I walked away. As I waited at the bar, I watched him chat and mingle as if nothing happened. I saw a girl laugh at a joke and touch his arm. He was, after all, a funny guy.

A tiny part of me felt a twinge of something. Something I didn't want to feel. It was then I realized I had to go.

"Okay guys, I'm heading out," I said in the vague direction of everyone, smiling wanly. Protests here and there of "Already?" or "You're leaving? Another drink!" When I told him I was heading out, he nodded, said "See ya," and turned back to his rapt (mostly female) audience.

And then I left.

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