Chapter 2: Orgasm Face
On my way to the editorial staff meeting the following Monday, I swung by the snack room for a packet of fruit chews but the candy got stuck halfway out of the vending machine. I pounded my palm against the glass a few times, then dug around in my pocket for change for a hot chocolate. As I sipped, I reread the slip of paper scrawled with the story idea I’d concocted moments prior.
I sat heavily in one of the few remaining chairs around the conference table and slurped my drink. Sitting through editorial meetings made me feel like I was two hundred years old and choking on yogurt—the weight of feigning enthusiasm over earnest story ideas like “10 Reasons Why Funny Women ARE Sexy” and “The Good Girl’s Guide to Sex!” being bandied about the table. Something had happened to my brain during my long tenure at women’s magazines. I wasn’t sure if it was because my mind moved a million clicks faster than my mouth could keep up, or if I had edited one listicle, charticle, gridicle and relation- ship quiz too many. But I had developed a bizarre inability to speak before higher-ups without stuttering, which the creative director eulogized in a drawing of me with a stream of “Er, ah, duh, durs” coming out of my mouth. I ignored what the characterization might portend and hung the picture up in my cubicle anyway because it looked exactly like me.
Danica sat to my right. Danica and I shared the same title but she was well on her way to world domination, which instinctively made me dislike her. A zebra-print bound notebook, newspaper clippings, a folder of papers and three different colored pens were neatly arranged on the table in front of her.
“Geez, Danica, are you pitching ideas or planning a blitzkrieg?”
She looked at me with a raised chin and blinked.
“Should I dim the lights for your PowerPoint presentation? Perhaps you require the use of a laser pointer?”
“I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes,” she said cryptically.
I crushed my empty paper cup in response and scanned the rest of the faces around the table, as well as those who pulled up chairs beside it. Most of the more seasoned editors, the ones who had been on the masthead for an astonishing five years (which was like fifteen years in this industry), wore blasé, bored expressions. Younger staffers looked like they might crack from a lethal mixture of fear, enthusiasm and Red Bull. I found it ironic that despite the magazine’s unrelenting edict to dress to the nines for every occasion, the women who put it together month after month were, with the exception of the fashion department, a decidedly no-frills bunch. Practically everyone, myself included, wore a variation of the same utilitarian uniform: jeans, T-shirts, boots, minimal jewelry, scant makeup, and with hair that lacked bounce and sheen.