Part Two of "The Three-Day Diet"
Continued from post below. A rough draft of a work of fiction.
For the Second Day of the Diet, You Consume Only Natural Fruit and Vegetable Juices.
No way I’m getting up. Where’s the alarm clock? Where’s the fucking alarm? Got…to…find…snooze…button…
Snooze is not long enough.
I hate this alarm clock. I am so exhausted.
I thought I was supposed to be naturally energized by this diet.
Maybe I would be more energized if I hadn’t peed 83 times during the night.
I’m going to be cranky today. But wait! I get to consume calories today! That’s worth getting up for.
Stumble out of bed, drag to kitchen and nearly finish full carton of OJ in one sitting. Feel less cranky but ill. Don’t care, though. Juice is still better than water and tea.
I’m late. I know San Francisco is rife with natural food stores, but I’m not one of those “all-organic all-the-time” types, and can’t find any near work. I’ve traipsed through three nearby corner stores and two cafes and have found no “natural” juice other than orange. I’m sure I’ll be sick if I have to drink more orange juice. What is wrong with other juices that “natural” state isn’t acceptable? Is this some evil plot of the high-fructose corn syrup industry?
I’m definitely not thinking straight.
I’m the HR director for retail catalog company, and I scheduled an interview with a potential summer intern—who also happens to be the president’s niece—for 10:30. Completely forgot. I can wing it, sure, but I should probably at least know interviewee’s name.
I begin frantically searching for resume of niece, and can literally hear my morning’s breakfast of orange juice sloshing around in my stomach. Very professional.
Paw through seven-inch stack of “inbox” hoping to find the resume when Gail pokes her head in and gleefully announces Kyra’s arrived and is waiting in lobby and should she bring her in. Instead of discovering drool, this time Gail’s surprise interruption results in my ejecting the stack of papers across my desk and onto the floor. Look at the mess and tell Gail I’ll escort Kyra back myself in a few minutes. Gail smiles and says okay and leaves too cheerily. Gail does not offer to help with the mess.
I don’t manage to find Kyra’s resume during my frenzied paper-cleaning reorganization, so I try to find the original e-mail from Jerry “recommending” his “very creative” niece for the internship. I wade through my e-mail inbox and eventually locate a copy of Kyra’s resume and reprint it. In glancing over the typo-ridden, grammatically challenged resume, I remember why I’d put it out of my head.
Generally, I consider hiring interns who have long-term, post-college potential. Generally, I do not consider spelling-deficient college sophomores majoring in human sexuality and minoring in modern dance with no actual work experience other than a two-month stint at a club called Bananas whose resume is written in a squiggly purple font. Generally. But then, most resumes don’t come from niece of president. Or rather, niece of president’s wife, Mel.
For the record, I do not like doing favors for Mel. Mel is Jerry’s third or fourth or fifth wife, but no one knows for sure which rumors are true. In any case, Mel is 33—which makes her one year older than me, and Jerry’s pushing 60—which makes him one year younger than my dad. Sigh. So of course Mel is sweet and cute, but also not the brightest bulb in the box, and the whole Mel-Jerry relationship is one big gag-inducing, eye-rolling cliché.
Oh, and to round off the cliché, I happen to know that Mel was working as a stripper when Jerry met her. See, I had to interview Mel back when Jerry thought his wife should get to know his business better. I was told to interview her like “a regular person, not the boss’ wife.” Sure. Except that boss’ wife had no office experience, no discernable interest in business, and no resume. This made for an interesting interview. Mel spoke freely about the exotic dancing lifestyle (“just between us girls”) and about how all she really wanted to do now that she’s married was teach kick-boxing classes.
Based on this, Mel and I mutually agreed that a receptionist position might be a good idea to start. Three weeks later, directly following the “What FedEx box?” debacle, we mutually agreed that a non-office position might be a better idea. She now works at a gym three days a week and no longer has plans to get to know Jerry’s business any better.
Unfortunately, Mel thinks it great to keep in touch with me, and she calls me from time to time asking for favors. Like helping her friend Jenni (a fellow exotic dancer whose stage name is “Eureka” for reasons unclear) fix her resume so she could find office work when she got pregnant and wanted to find a less physically demanding job. I also helped Mel’s friend Steve-the-ex-bouncer get a job in our print house after he was fired for losing a fight with a drunk but determined dentist. It’s not my favorite thing to do, but I figure at least Mel’s friends are colorful, and keeping the president’s wife happy certainly can’t hurt my career.
However, I fear Kyra might be another story. Unlike Mel and Jenni and Steve, the summer intern reports to me. I am the one responsible for the intern. I provide guidance and support and career advice to serious-minded college kids who don’t use purple squiggle fonts.
Maybe I’m rushing to unfair judgments. I suppose it’s entirely possible for Niece Kyra to be professional and engaging and interesting and moldable. It’s possible that her resume might not give an accurate picture of her true seriousness or potential. And though Jerry referring to Kyra as “very creative” could be a huge red flag, I could also just be having a juice-induced overreaction.
Or my worst fears could be realized.
I enter the waiting area to find Kyra sitting with a look of contempt on her face, staring at nothing. I could be wrong about the look of contempt, but it’s hard to tell given her lip, nose, and eyebrow piercings, not to mention the bold statement she’s made with eyeliner.
Oh, come on. I’m a modern woman, I can get past facial creativity. I can appreciate that professional standards have changed a bit since I started out.
I approach Kyra and introduce myself and ask her to follow me to my office, whereupon I have an opportunity to take in her full interviewing ensemble. Can’t help but think it’s an interesting look for a corporate office: stark dyed blond hair, pink vinyl low-rise pants, spike-heeled boots, and a black tank top.
Between the outfit and body language, I get the distinct feeling that Kyra is not as excited about the idea of working here as her aunt and uncle might be.
I think I’m on Kyra’s side.
The interview is positively painful. Kyra is in no way trying to present herself in a positive light, and her teenaged intonation driving me crazy. Everything she says sounds like a question.
“So, Kyra, tell me a little bit about yourself.”
“What do you want to know?”
“Well, anything you’d like to share. Tell me more about your work experiences, or about why you’re interested in working for us.”
“Seriously? Well, you know Mel and Jerry, right? Yeah, well, they had a big fit when they found out I was dancing at Mel’s old club? They got all, like, ‘it’s so demeaning’ and ‘you should be focusing on a career’ and I’m all, like, ‘Hello? I’m studying human sexuality, people! I am not ashamed of what I do with my body?’ But they don’t get it? They don’t have any kids, and it’s like, they’ve adopted me? Now Mel’s gotten all involved, and talks to me like she’s all high and mighty now that she married Jerry? Like that’s a career?”
“Uh huh, uh huh. I see. Go on.” I watch Kyra’s facial rings jiggle as she talks.
“So okay? So Jerry makes me this deal, to make Mel happy? He’s like, ‘I’ll pay for school if you promise not to work at the club anymore?’ So I quit, because that’s pretty cool? I mean, it’s cool that I don’t have to worry about making money to pay for school? And maybe I’ll just like, try and stay in school for a long time? I could get my Master’s?”
“Um, oh, yes. A Master’s does sound cool,” I say. “But let me ask, if you don’t have to worry about making money, why is it that you’re looking for work here? It’s not exactly in your field of study.”
“I know! Right?”
I smiled and widened my eyes.
“Well, I guess Mel was happy that I quit, but then she must have been thinking about things? I’m telling you, that woman has too much time on her hands? So she and my mom—that’s her sister—started to talk, and Mel said wouldn’t it be great if I came to work with Jerry, like as though this was the best thing in the world? And everyone thought it would be great experience?”
She put her hands in the air to gesture quotations around the word “experience” every time she said it.
“And then Jerry said I should try the internship experience and he would set it up for me and that I had to do it if I still wanted him to pay for school, and, well, here I am? I guess, for the experience?”
“And, no offense? But this sucks.”
I noted that the words “this sucks” were not expressed as a question.
12: 17 p.m.
Instead of walking to nearby haunts, I’ve wandered all over downtown in search of natural juice worthy enough to be considered “lunch.” Eventually I find a funky little juice bar. I order a gargantuan mixture of banana/strawberry/kiwi/pineapple extracts, no sugar/milk/cream/yogurt added. It’s pretty good, almost like food. Almost enough to make up for morning’s interview, even. But not quite.
Meeting with Kyra was definitely not the high point of my week. I thought the “this sucks” statement was a fitting conclusion to the interview, though I can still see the look of “eeew” on her face as my stomach resumed sloshing while escorting her out. “You might want to have that looked at,” she’d said. I didn’t answer her, I just left her at the elevator bank.
Frankly, I do not respond well to unsolicited advice from 19 year olds in pink pants.
I’m meeting with Jerry to go over the Niece Kyra situation in three minutes. Because Jerry speaks only in management-ese, I’ve had to practice my oh-God-please-don’t-make-me-hire-her spiel. Think I’m convincing, even in double-speak.
I enter Jerry’s office with trepidation, as he’s obviously busy with presidential business of fitting a sandwich the size of his head into his mouth, dripping some sort of sauce on catalog proofs.
I’m waved in, so I take a seat. I then decide to launch into my rehearsed speech instead of staring at him eating in silence. I carefully enumerate my concerns about Kyra in diplomatic fashion, without even using the phrases, “I know! Right?” or “This sucks!” once. Jerry eyes me thoughtfully while he chews. I finish, and await a swallow and response.
“So, where do you think we should put her?” he asks, not quite empty-mouthed.
Wonder if I was unclear, or just completely ignored.
I have lots of snide ideas about where we should “put her,” but none are particularly helpful. I try to think of something to say, some way out of having to put up with pink pants all summer. Think…Reed. Ha ha, I’m brilliant.
“Well, Jerry, given my initial meeting with Kyra, I doubt she’ll be interested in the more traditional roles we’ve given interns.” I put air-quotes around the word traditional. “I think maybe she’d be more likely to blossom with Creative. Reed’s got a lot of work coming up now with the Christmas spreads, he might appreciate having an intern to help out.”
Truth is, no one needs extra help less than Reed, who seems to think as a manager it’s his job to delegate all his work to his staff. He rarely works on anything himself, and yet is always too busy to help anyone with anything. Except Jerry, of course, who adores him.
“That’s an excellent idea,” Jerry says, and summons Reed to his office via intercom.
A few seconds later, Reed sticks his head in the office, sees me there, and gets an oh-it’s-just-you expression.
“What’s up?” he asks. Casual, like that.
“We’ve got a new intern starting who we think should work with you. Learn design,” Jerry murmurs though pastrami, no longer making eye contact with anyone but the sandwich. “Ev will give you the details.”
Reed looks at me and smiles, but his face turns a telltale “what-the-hell-is-this?” pink. “Great! I look forward to it!” he says.
Jerry says, “Great” also, and the deal is done. Reed scurries away.
I stay a few minutes longer to work out said details. Look forward to relaying them to Reed, who despises being told anything by me.
When I get up to leave my liquid lunch makes my stomach slosh louder than ever. Jerry asks twice if I’m sure I’m okay, he’s never heard anything like that before. Rather than own up to wacky three-day diet, I blame the sound on “woman problems.” Yeah, like insanity.
I’m intent on meeting with Reed a.s.a.p. to hand off whole intern project and wash my hands of Kyra nonsense. I tried an hour ago, but he said he was too busy and that he’d come talk to me when he had some time. He’s so full of it.
Reed’s a very good-looking, smarmy lothario. Otherwise professional women tend to swoon and giggle around him. I’ve known him too well for too long though, and his powers are useless against me. He knows this. So instead of even pretending to be charming when we’re alone together, he’s simply abhorrent.
“So what am I going to do with an intern?” he says after I barge into his office and threaten not to leave till he talks to me. Like we’re five year olds.
“I dunno, maybe teach her something?”
“Her? It’s a girl?” I could see the mental gears grinding. “She hot?”
“She’s Mel’s niece.”
“She’s artsy. I’m sure you’ll love her.”
“And by ‘love’ you mean—” he raised his eyebrows and looked sly. I resisted the urge to make vomit sounds, but couldn’t help making snotty face.
“I mean she’s all yours. Here’s her resume, you can decide when she starts, though Jerry said the sooner the better. I’ll let Jerry know you’re taking care of it,” I said, and walked out before he could answer.
Mom prefers to call me when she knows I’m at work so that I’ll answer the phone and not screen her call like I do when I’m at home. She also prefers to call me when she thinks she won’t be interrupting my work, like at the end of the day. She does not get that interrupting my work is far less annoying than interrupting my leaving it.
“It’s your mother.”
“Mom, I know it is.”
“Were you working?”
“I’m at work.”
“I hope I’m not bothering you.”
“I was just getting ready to leave, actually.”
“It’s not even five yet.”
“I know that, I was hoping to leave before then.” Because I don’t know when the juice bar closes and I want another semi-meal. But I cannot mention this because I cannot tell Mom I think juice is more important than talking to her. Even though I’m starving. Which I also can’t mention.
“Isn’t that wedding this weekend?”
Ah ha. The pre-emptive wedding call. Mom will either be reminding me not to get married or want to discuss what I’m planning on wearing and why it’s inappropriate.
“Amy’s wedding? Yes, it’s this weekend.”
“And you’re still going to go, even without whatshisname?”
“Of course I’m still going. Amy’s my friend.”
“Well, I don’t like the idea of you going to a formal event unescorted.”
“Mom, people go to weddings all the time without dates. I go to weddings all the time without dates. I’ll be fine.”
“You might meet someone.”
“You know, just because you meet someone at a wedding doesn’t mean you have to marry them.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Someone on Oprah was just talking about the number of married couples who met at weddings. It’s really very high. So I’m just saying that even if you meet someone wonderful you don’t have to marry him just because people on Oprah did it.”
“Why would I do something just because people on Oprah did it?”
“That’s just it, you don’t have to.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“What about the bouquet?”
“What about the bouquet?”
“Are you going to try and catch it?”
“Um, I don’t know. I hadn’t thought about it. I suppose—”
“See, sweetie, this is why I worry about you. I’m not criticizing you, but when single women over the age of thirty go to weddings without dates and then try to catch the bouquet it’s just not very elegant.”
“No, not elegant at all. You know what I’m talking about—the crazy women who scream and claw at the bouquet. Sends the wrong message…like they’re desperate.”
“Sometimes they are desperate, Mom.”
“What on earth for?”
“For husbands, security, children, I don’t know—”
“For husbands? In this day and age? That just seems so outdated. Look at Oprah.”
I have never successfully argued this point with my mother, so I don’t try anymore. Plus no argument is winnable when Oprah is on her side.
“I know, Mom, I know. I will try not to get involved in any crazy bouquet-catching activities.”
“Good. What are you planning on wearing?”
“Oh, Mom. Can’t I even dress without you? Don’t you trust me?”
“Now, Ev, that’s not why I’m asking and you know it. I just want to be involved in your life. And now that I mention it, for a hip young single woman, you’re not that interesting.”
“Well, I’ve been busy. But if you must know, I’m wearing a little black dress with red beading. Scoop neck, capped sleeves. Tailored a-line.”
“Is this the one that’s too tight for you?”
“Actually, I think I’ve dropped a couple pounds,” I say, as my stomach swishes.
“But it’s still tight and somewhat revealing?”
“I suppose tight-ish, yes.”
“I mean no offense, darling, but you and your curves in tight-ish dresses do not give the impression of a woman looking for a husband so much as a woman looking for a cheap hook-up.”
Where does she get this stuff? Do other mothers use the term “hook-up”? Honestly.
“What do you want me to do, Mom? It’s the nicest thing I own. I mean, guess I could borrow—”
“Don’t be silly, honey. It’ll be perfect.”
I’m ecstatic when I discover my new favorite juice bar is open till 7 p.m. I buy two gargantuan fruit blends and look forward to a peaceful evening at home with mango-based fruit juice dinner, my cats, and Sex And The City on DVD.
And I’m willfully ignoring the fact that my pants feel much tighter on the bus ride home from work than they did this morning.