Today everyone at work left early for an award show. Except my boss but, because everyone else left, he got really, really busy and never came out of his office which is in the other end of the building so except for one treacly "Hi, isn't it a gorgeous day outside?" from me when he went for a cup of something or other I never saw him. It has been made clear to me that I am expected to sit at my desk with an expression like one of those little tin monkeys that play drums whenever I see anyone. This is because my boss looks at two things. 1) He didn't hire me, he inherited me. He would have liked a dumb blonde who is NOT smarter than a fifth grader. I am, after all, the receptionist. This means I'm not too bright. If I were bright I would be working somewhere else so he may, actually, have a point there. 2) I have a fat ass. It was fat when he met me and it's getting fatter. This has something to do with the fact that I never freaking get up from my chair. Because my job is to sit still, adopt a goofy, not-to-bright grin (which, btw, when coupled with my overbite makes me look something like Barney Google) and make sure the college educated V.P.s on the floor have sufficient coffee and paper cups to waste. This is seen as the extent of my capabilities because, well, isn't it obvious? If I HAD capabilities I wouldn't be the receptionist!
Okay, now granted, I'm going to blow my own horn here. I have a hell of a sense of humor. In HIGH school a teacher once gave me a book by Ogden Nash because she thought it would appeal to my fey mind. I thanked her and immediately looked up fey, at which point I thanked her again, first for the book and secondly for the new word.
I'm quirky and I know it. I'm also a smart ass and I know that too. I can use words properly and occasionally throw words of more than two syllables into conversational sentences. I mean hell, my parents paid a LOT for those words, they sent me to a private university. I feel it would be a grave disservice to them not to use them.
My boss and I speak rarely. I try and maintain a pleasant demeanor and indulge in some lighthearted conversation with I occasionally run into him in the kitchen. Unfortunately, the last time I did this I quoted (and cited) Marcel Proust. Now, I'll admit, I only know one quote of Proust's and it involves cookies but I don't think it made any points. Quoting Proust to a lawyer only cements one's reputation as "that fat ass in Reception." Fun fact.
Well, anyway, today with most of the execs gone, my own personal exec holed up and my desk painfully devoid of work (which, I feel, makes me look like a slacker) I stuck a disc into the dvd player in my computer and turned the sound down to barely audible on a movie I hadn't seen in a long time. There was Natalie Wood, the young woman version. She was playing the adult, not yet married and therefore still living at home daughter of a business owner. We were first introduced to her as she walked into her father's library (did I mention he was a RICH business owner?) to answer a question about some shares of stock she happened to have inherited. She was in a simple black skirt, stockings, black mid heel pumps and an absolutely stunning tailored pale pink blouse, a blouse who's main and riveting feature was it's modest portrait collar.
And I got to thinking, gee, we used to dress like that during the day. I mean now I would dress like that to go to the theater. Well, okay, I wouldn't because I can't stand wearing panty hose anymore, the crotch always seems to end up somewhere between MY crotch and my knees which leads to some very uncomfortable chafing problems along with the inability to cross one's legs. But I think my point is made. I looked at her as she was driving James Garner to the airport and she had a pretty pink scarf thrown over her head to protect her hair in the car and I thought "who the hell dresses like that hanging around the house?" And then I remembered. We ALL did.
Well, okay, maybe not you, but your mother did. Donna Reed wasn't a freak people, we didn't WEAR pants in public. My mother never left the house without lipstick and earrings. In fact, I made sure she was wearing lipstick and earrings in her coffin because, if there's really an afterlife, I didn't want to run into her and have her rip me a new one because I sent her to St. Peter without lipstick and earrings.
Somewhere between Levittown, burning our bras (which only women with AA cups actually did, you do NOT want to know what a set of double D's looks like in a t-shirt) and finally finding our voices we seem to have lost out sense of self. Is it really so demeaning to look nice? And then it hit me.
64% of Americans are overweight or obese. I know why. I know why I have an ass the size of Lake Erie. I know why most men look like they're shoplifting watermelons.
It's because we look like CRAP.
If I HAD to climb into a skirt and panty hose twice a week I'd weigh 20 pounds less. So would a lot of us. But no, we roll out of bed into some clean jeans and a pullover top and head for the office. We dress like we don't care. So we look like we don't care. And we stop caring. Tried to get a perm lately? Not gonna happen. I have thick straight hair and I don't like to get up a second before I have to in the morning. And I thought..AHA! I remember perms. How nice would it be to have some thick, soft bouncy waves and curls? And how EASY to take care of! Pretty and quick.
Oh no, I'm told, what I really want is a cut that takes 15 minutes of blow dry and styling in the morning and by noon has pulled down into a center parted mass of nothing special. Because we're liberated now, we no longer are slaves to curls and chemicals.
So. I have decided. I will find someone who tortures 83 year old ladies into curly tops and let her or him torture ME too. I will do all my laundry this week-end and try to dress in a shirt that matches my slacks, even after work. I will wear a shoe with a heel. I will put on lip gloss and buy a tube of mascara and maybe even buy some Monster Mamma size panty hose to try and smooth down the figure 8 my hips make in my pants. I will go on eBay and find some brightly colored espadrilles with a wedge heel to match my outfit.
I've got five bucks says I lose 5 pounds in a month if I stick to this plan. It probably won't get me off of the reception desk but I won't feel so fat while I'm stuck there. I will age elegantly. And feel much better about myself, secure in the knowledge that, while I polish my class, my dignity and my sense of self-worth, my boss will increasingly resemble Vladimir Lenin.