A friend’s husband once looked at me over Thanksgiving dinner as I was telling another story and said, “Jeez, Sara you are so ingenuous!” I remember Ted sitting across the table shaking his head with a smile on his face and a look. Still not sure what that was about, but I remember grabbing the Webster’s when I got home (no Dictionary.com in the 80’s). Me – naïve, innocent, frank, guileless, – not possible. Why would he say that? I am not naïve. Never was, never will be. I’m smart, I have street sense. You could drop me off anywhere in the world and I’d find my way home. And the rest of it is nonsense. A woman needs be smart, talk well, and smile. It’s called the “female card” which I knew how to play on automatic pilot.
Then my mind, with a mind of its own, generally takes over and says, “…but what about General Dynamics?” Its 1979, I’ve been at the military industrial complex in Pomona about seven months. Seven months of getting up every morning at 4:30 am checking to see what new dress or skirt I’m going to wear to impress this man or that one. Used to wear pants since I fell in love with Katherine Hepburn and jeans in the late 50’s; however, when you’re surrounded by fifty men daily, you don’t wear pants. You wear a black pencil skirt (short but not too short, have to be able to bend over without looking like a slut), black hose, and stilettos. And, if you can find a pair of black patent stilettos with a shiny aluminum metal stripe starting at the top of the back of the shoe going all the way down to the bottom of the heel – even better.
Jack Peterson is now the Director of the Contracts Department and once a week on Fridays in lieu of our lunch hour, we all lunch together with sandwiches delivered from the local deli, to discuss the status of the week’s contracts. Me in a conference room with fifty men; Lord thank you, what wonderful thing did I do in my last life to deserve such good fortune? I’m sitting in a conference room upholstered chair with casters on the legs. Which, thank God, push all the way under the gigantic table so no one will know that my stiletto clad feet don’t touch the floor. Before we get to the statistics of the week, one of the guys decides to start a going around the table game called – When you were in high school, what did you want to be when you became an adult? What is wrong with men anyway?
Off we go around the table, with each story funnier than the next – the usual fireman, policeman, Marine Corp, pilot, accountant, inventor, surfer dude, rock star, and on and on. The stories are getting closer to my side of the walnut table; I have to think fast (not a good situation for me to be in as no one had told me yet that I was ingenuous). Lights, action, camera, quiet on the set, and the actress speaks her lines, “I always wanted to be a Playboy bunny centerfold.” I don’t understand, why this is so funny. Why is everyone laughing hysterically? Why am I turning red? Why is Mr. Peterson shaking his head at me again? Did I spill my lunch on my white sweater?
Remember when your mother told you, “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool, then to open it and remove all doubt.” Remember that line Sara? Where have you been since seventh grade? It gets better, because sitting to my left is the adorable Contracts Department clown who hasn’t had a turn yet. “Steve,” Mr. Peterson says hoping the laughter dies down soon so we can end this nonsense and get on to business. Steve looks to his right – me head down, still bright red to my stiletto toes, “I always wanted to be a Playboy bunny photographer.”
Mr. Peterson still shaking his head leaves the conference room and tells us to go back to our desks when we have finished lunch. I think the Vice President of Contracts called and wanted to know why we were having so much fun.
All rights reserved. ©2009 by Sara Fryd