Anything ?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Slash and Burn.”

Writing about anything I want….? I am mesmerized.  I’ve no idea what to go on about. This is a baffling exercise.  Write 500 words,  cut it in half and don’t change the essence. What essence ?  Does that mean the gist ?  So feather and skin the thing but leave the innards ? Oh, I am sorry,  not a nice image.  Don’t worry, bear with me, I will find my bearings.  ( I have no idea how I am going to reduce this paragraph by 50% and have it still mean anything).

Here we go…

Three maybe four days ago,  a friend of mine, her friend (I was meeting her for the first time) and myself came together for dinner.  It was a delicious meal and we had had the foresight to pick up 3 succulent flans from a near by restaurant that afternoon, and were now in the process of enjoying our desserts.  My impression of Audrey as a fun loving individual was confirmed by her easy access to laughter and her suggestion that we share our most embarrassing experiences.  While my friend was sharing hers,  a memory that had been long tucked away rose to the occasion.  I remembered how mortified I felt and suddenly the entire scenario was taking place in my mind’s eye.

I was in my late teens, (nineteen I believe) and had just been hired by a Mutual Fund Investment Company (I didn’t even know I liked  Mutual Funds, what are they anyways ?)  I was part of a pool.  There were perhaps a dozen of us all sitting at our desks; desks with telephones on them, and in those days probably ashtrays as well. I was very flattered that after just a couple of weeks of working there, the Vice President of the company, a distinguished man in his 30’s (31) summoned me to his office via his personal secretary and handed me a file that he wanted me to work on.  None of the other young women were offered these files and I thought for sure he had readily discovered I was gifted. This continued for another couple of weeks,  and then came the luncheon invitation.  More than my little heart could stand.  I did not stutter, but would often become tongue tied around him.

Off we went,  I am not now, nor was I then,  much of a sophisticate,  but I was a fussy dresser.  It was the early 70’s and that day I wore a loose fitting white blouse that tucked into my mini skirt at the waste, and a brand new high heeled  (I’d say a 4 inch) sling back soft leather pair of shoes which I purchased from a prestigious shoe shop. I loved those shoes and when I slipped them on my feet I felt like a hottie.

We had arrived at, the Best, (capital B) Italian restaurant in Montreal.  The raucous from a jumping busy luncheon clientele was overwhelming and we automatically switched to sign language.   He motioned to the stairs.  A beautiful marble staircase…this was a classy joint !   Well look at me now, little girl from the Mutual Fund Pool in the best restaurant in the city with the Vice President of the company; I was going places.

I followed him up the elegant 12 or 14 stairs.  He realized almost immediately that neither were any tables  available on the upper floor and turned to descend.  I was now in front of him and led the way. I took a step, and before I knew what happened I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs in a very compromised position. I was devastated and needed to compose myself.  Suddenly it had become utterly quiet, or I had gone momentarily deaf. Hmm,  what was one my leg (thigh deep) doing on the other side of the rails,  very curious,  Oh, I see, well, yes, I guess my mini skirt would have to go up that high to allow my right  leg to be at a 90 degree angle from my left leg.  Let’s fix that; as I drew my knee in and up and back through the rails, I gripped the banister above me to lift my self up back to a standing position.  I peered over the banister.  Oh, how nice,  this restaurant kept large copper pitchers filled with ice water sitting on a shelf on the other side of the staircase.   My foot or leg, I know not which,  had knocked one over and the sweet couple sitting at the table below, now looked as though they had just come out of the shower.  How romantic ?  I was still accessing the damages;  but was pretty sure I did not want to stay for lunch.  By now people had gathered and I was getting more attention than I felt I deserved.  I sussed out the exit door.  My first step informed me that the heel on my left shoe was no longer there…I was not about to limp… I steadied myself and walked out with my head held high.

We never spoke of it and spent what remained of our lunch hour having my shoe repaired.  Rudy had placed it in his pocket.  He never asked me out for lunch again.  I refer to this experience as  “The Day I Made a Splash at Paisano’s”.

I had a tremendous laugh in the telling of it.. we all did.  It felt cathartic,  I let go of something that I was not even aware I was holding.  A little bit of scar tissue that evaporated upward with uproarious laughter.  It is genuinely funny to me now, but at the time,  I contemplated changing my name and leaving the country. It is good to know that we can forget that which was once so traumatic.

I wonder where Rudy is now?

Condensed form :

Four days ago, my friend, her friend and myself had dinner.  During dessert her friend suggested we tell our most embaressing  stories. I remembered an incident of mine that occurred in the 70’s.  I was working at a mutual fund investment comapany.  I was new and my boss regularly gave me extra assignments.  Within a month  he asked me out for lunch.  We went to a very popular Italian restaurant. The place was busy and so we went upstairs to see if there was an available table on the second floor.  There was not.  We turned leave.   It was mortifying when I slipped on the stairs and bumped my way down. It all happened so fast. There I was sitting at the bottom of the stairs with one leg that had gone right through the rails and knocked a pitcher of ice water over onto a near by table.  My skirt was not where it should have been and when I stood up I found my heel was broken.  I walked straight out of the door and we spent the rest of our lunch repairing my shoe.

Never again did he ask me out for lunch. I am glad to know that something this devastating  can be forgotten and it felt wonderful to really laugh it out after such a long time.

Sometimes I remember my old boss.

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April 23, 2015 · 4:03 am

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