Miss Vida Bohème for knowing that career girls want the same things every girl wants. Doralee Rhodes for knowing how to throw a lasso and string a man up. Joan Holloway for knowing how to wear a dress, walk like a lady and pour a stiff drink. Tess McGill for knowing how to have a good head for business and a body for sin.
She wears lipstick, warm red and a smile, cold. Nails, perfectly manicured, polished with thick careful coats. Skirts, natural fibers, hemmed two or three inches above the knee paired with silk blouses in muted colors that open easily at opportune times. Stockings are seamed, fresh and crisp. Heels are high enough to click and clack on hard floors. Jewelry is simple, expensive, coveted. Perfume, worn heavy, leaving heavy clouds in her wake, lingering when she shakes your hand.
Her desk is personal but it isn’t, revealing but it’s not. In one corner, a small modest plant—a Jade or perhaps an African Violet. There are pictures on her desk. Her family, July 4th, in the backyard, her parents, two sisters, one brother, no pets, so that it is known that she is loved. The last photo she took with her last boyfriend, hiking the Grand Canyon just before dusk, him standing, one foot propped on a small boulder, her standing in front of him, his arm draped over her shoulder, the orange red sky behind them. He’s looking down at her, she’s looking straight ahead and they are smiling, so that it is known she is wanted. Her best friend, a man she loves but cannot have, leaning against the rail on the upper deck of the ferry they take to work every day, the sky grey, wind blowing through his hair, so that it is known that she wants. In the deep drawer on the left, she keeps files, in folders, neatly labeled so that it is known that she knows things. Behind the files, a small bottle of gin so that it is known she makes things better. She stores a useful collection of supplies like paperclips, glue and rubber bands as well as a toothbrush and floss to promote tooth and gum health. There are several pens—blue, red and black so that she can make her mark, let it be known that she is here.
She sits with her chair a few inches from the conference table, tracing her lips with her long, perfectly sharpened nails. She takes thorough notes in leather portfolios, writing with expensive pens. She archives all that is said and unsaid and everything in between. She is clear, she is thorough. She keeps careful track of where the bodies are buried. She asks hard questions at hard times, pretends to hear the hard answers. She crosses and uncrosses her legs to punctuate her sentences. She daydreams in rhyme.
She speaks in hushed whispers, uses complex codes. What she says is not what she means. What she means is not what she says. Up is down, left is right, no is yes, and right is wrong.
She maintains a discreet relationship, does all the things he claims his wife won’t. She stays late, comes early, comes often, and then goes home alone. She sits on his desk, hikes up her skirt, pulls his hands between her thighs, compliments his ties. She takes dictation and makes note not of what he says, but rather what she thinks. She accompanies him on business trips and corporate retreats in warmer climes, rides shotgun in golf carts, learns to enjoy Cuban cigars, drinks whiskey and rye. She does twice the work, demands half the credit, swallows, and bides her time.
She keeps her teeth bright. She keeps her teeth sharp. She develops a keen sense of smell.