I realize this makes me sound a little Tracy Flick, but I picked out my outfit for my first day at CWA weeks ago. I'm more on my A game when I'm wearing my favorite skirt from Club Monaco and the blouse I wrestled from the hands of a Real Housewife of Long Island at the Theory store at Woodbury Common Outlets. Nina used to make fun of me for being so OCD about what I wear and when, but then the Times ran this article about enclothed cognition, basically supporting what I was saying about clothing enhancing performance, and now she shows my silly little theories the respect they deserve.
CWA was closed on Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so I was starting on Tuesday, the same day Janus dumped all over the East Coast and ruined everything.
"Just wear, like, long johns, under the skirt!" Richard suggested from my bed. I was tearing up my closet, trying to find a new first day outfit that would impress all my co-workers and weather the polar vortex better than a flimsy silk top. "Take them off when you get to the office."
"Do I look like the type of person who owns long johns?" I tossed a puffy vest over my head. "I can't even believe you know what they are."
"My mom used to make us wear them under our ski pants," Richard said.
My hands stilled on the sweater dress I was considering. Richard so rarely brings up his family that it's like a record scratch when he does. Also, he'd said us....I'd always been under the impression Richard was an only child. "When you say us....?" I glanced over my shoulder at him. He was propped up in bed, shirtless, tapping away at his laptop.
He looked up at me. "Me and my sister."
I tried to keep the surprise out of my voice. It was like if I revealed how interested I really was I'd scare him off. "You have a sister?"
Richard went back to working on his laptop but he nodded. "Yeah." His brow furrowed over whatever it was he was typing. "Thought you knew that."
I shook my head and turned back to my closet. "No. Where is she?"
I relieved the sweater dress from a hanger. "How did she end up there if you're from Oyster Bay?"
I no longer heard the march of the keys, just Richard's sigh. "What's with the twenty questions?"
I pulled the dress on. My hair was plastered to my face with static when I poked my head out of the thick turtleneck. "I'm just curious. You've met my whole family. I feel bad I didn't even know you had a sister."
Richard shut his laptop and pulled back the covers, stepping out of bed. "She's younger." He made his way over to me. "She met some guy from the South and they got married and moved down there." His hands were on my waist now. "Is this what you're wearing?"
I smiled. "Like it?"
Richard took me in from head to toe. "It's like the original mother turtleneck all other turtlenecks were born from." He pinched the thick collar between his fingers and grimaced. "I hate it."
"It's a cowl neck and Nina Garcia says those are chic."
"You know what would look really cute?" Richard reached behind me and found the hanger with my Rockford Peach costume—the one with the tennis skirt that definitely wouldn't pass the fingertips test. I'd had it dry cleaned in case I ever got a last minute Halloween party invite which is also something Nina likes to make fun of me for ("Who gets her Halloween costume dry-cleaned?!").
"That's not very polar vortex appropriate," I said.
"But maybe later?" Richard raised his eyebrows at me.
I gave him a kiss. "You're such a freak." I returned the hanger to the closet. "Meet me at Eataly after work. We can get stuff for dinner before we head home—your office is 25th and what again?"
Richard started for the shower. "Broadway."
"I can't believe we work so close." CWA's offices are on 21st and Fifth. It is a dreamy shopping area and not in the way the movies make Fifth Avenue out to be. Yes, there is a stretch of Fifth Ave, further uptown, cluttered with tourists and fancy stores where even a key chain is out of my budget, but the hood I will be frequenting five days a week is lined with shops that warm a millennial's frugal heart: H&M, Madewell, Joe Fresh, Club Monaco's sale rack, and Intermix for when I'm in a masochistic mood. There's also a Drybar around the corner which is good to know in case hell freezes over and an appointment some time in 2014 becomes available. "We can do lunch together alllll the time."
Richard flung a towel over his shoulder. "You're never going to have time to eat a real lunch."
"Just let me have my fantasy, okay?"
I had to be at work earlier than usual on my first day to go through the HR orientation. There were nine new hires, and the woman running the session had us turn to the person next to us and introduce ourselves, say where we were coming from and what we were going to be doing at CWA, and also share one cool thing about ourselves. It was like camp.
The girl next to me was named Howie, and I instantly loved her because I have a thing for girls who have boy names. She had dark hair slicked into a low bun and she told me she'd come over from Goldman to assist Marty Irvinbaum, who is an agent in the TV department. Oh, and her one cool thing about herself is that she can speak Italian and that is insanely cool and sexy.
"You were at Goldman Sachs before this?" I asked, just to be sure I'd heard her right. It was a move that seemed nonsensical.
Howie took a sip of her coffee and nodded. "I know. My bosses told me I was making the biggest mistake of my career. I was on track to become the youngest VP in my group." She rolled her eyes. "And don't even get me started on the..." she rubbed her fingers back and forth, indicating she'd taken a massive pay cut.
"So why did you do it?"
Howie shrugged. "Some of the partners are investors in the movie industry and I just heard people rave about this place. They're doing some really cool things here. And being an agent isn't really all that different from what I was doing at Goldman. I sold financial products there. Here I'll sell talent to producers or casting agents or whatever. A lot of really successful agents started in finance."
"I didn't know that," I said.
Howie took another sip of her coffee. "Yeah. Also, I was so sick of being the only woman and the only black person on the floor." She rolled her eyes. "You wouldn't believe the abuse I had to put up with."
I put my hand over my chest, aghast. "Why didn't you sue for, like, harassment or discrimination or something?"
Howie laughed. "You're adorable, little blond girl."
After we'd gone around the room and introduced the person by our side (in case you were wondering, my one cool thing about myself is that I can hold my breath under water for two minutes and fifteen seconds and I expect my medal to arrive in the mail next week everyone), another HR rep talked us through the insurance, medical, and dental plans CWA offered. After that torture, everyone gathered their things to take a tour of the building. Before I could follow the group out into the hallway, the receptionist stopped me at the door. "You're Josie Mitchell, right?"
"I never got your passport. I need to make a copy of it for our files."
I groaned. "I am so sorry. I totally forgot to bring it with me this morning."
"You should try and run home and get it at some point today," she said. "I won't be able to enter you into our system as a new hire without it, and it will screw up your pay cycle."
"Should I go now do you think?"
"I would." She glanced out the window at the wall of white. "Before the storm gets too bad."
I had to splinter from the group to go find William and tell him I had to make a quick trip home. "You want my car?" he offered.
"Are you serious?" I asked.
"Of course I'm serious!" he said. "It's dangerous out there. The last thing I need is some cab swerving onto the curb and hitting you on your walk to the subway. Who'd be my assistant then?" he laughed loudly.
I rolled my eyes. "Thanks for your concern."
William's driver, Marcus, met me downstairs. It took us forty minutes to get to my apartment—I might as well have walked.
"I'll be right back," I said to Marcus as I climbed out of the car.
I hurried into my apartment building, shaking off snow as I climbed the stairs. I jammed my key into the lock and opened my door. When I saw the figure on the couch I screamed. The figure screamed too.
"Richard!" I took a deep breath. "You scared the shit out of me." I took another deep breath and almost laughed before I realized something, before I took in the deer-in-headlights expression on Richard's face.
"It's almost noon," I said. "Why aren't you at work?"
Richard aimed the remote control at the TV and shut it off. "So, um, there's something I have to talk to you about...." And never, in the history of mankind, has anything good ever followed those words.