One of the fringe benefits of my job (besides the free makeup samples and other cool stuff we fashion writers get) is how terribly interesting I am to people I don't know.
At one point during the young leadership meeting that was, I guess, Harris' and my first official date, I grumbled to Alison that I was sick of repeating over and over what I do for a living -- and then have people who'd normally not pay any attention to me suddenly perk up.
"Jessica, you're a colossal ingrate," Alison hissed in response to my kvetching.
"Hey, I admit that I'm just as bad as everyone else. I paid no attention to that dorky guy," I said, gesturing toward a guy in the corner who was but one small step away from pocket-protectorhood. "Until he said that he was a doctor. Weird and awkward is okay -- as long as you're a weird and awkward doctor."
Alison shrugged, distracted by the goings-on. She has some sort of account-executive-type position at a company that makes something that services some sort of program for some sort of computer. I don't think even she understands what she does. To avoid a glazed-over look as a response to "what do you do," she usually just says she does marketing for a high-tech firm.
I am told that there are, in fact, places in the world where there are topics discussed besides what one does for a living. Somewhere. Supposedly. I've just not yet found one.
People discuss topics besides what you do for a living. Somewhere. Supposedly.
Anyway, Harris was delightfully attentive, introducing me around (so I could be asked again if I know anyone famous), and bringing me sodas every 10 minutes. It was cute enough that even Alison was impressed.
Apparently, not everyone was so impressed. At first I thought I was paranoid when I noticed a small blonde sneering at me. Her name, it seems, is Becca. And she doesn't like me.
I was talking to two friends of Harris' when she sidled over and introduced herself. The friends exchanged glances, as if a grenade had just dropped into my diet coke.
"So you're Jessica Shaeffer?" she asked innocently.
I said I was.
"Hmm," she murmured with a smile that might freeze lead. "I heard you write for that fashion magazine."
I noticed a slight southern accent. "I used to," I said, somewhat warily. "Now I'm producing its television show."
"Hmm," she purred. "Isn't that interesting? And here I always thought that fashion writers knew how to dress."
Three jaws dropped in unison.
"Actually, we specifically don’t, so as not to intimidate the already insecure,” I said, evenly. Her face reddened.
They looked as if a grenade just dropped into my diet Coke.
I wondered if shoulderpads would help her haul around the elephantine shoulder chip she was carrying. I felt sorry for her, and bit back the insult on the tip of my tongue.
I smiled and leaned toward her, "As a matter of fact, if you ever look at the fashion writers at couture shows, they're the ones with their hair pulled back in severe ponytails, in black from head to toe. No one can compete with the models."
She looked unsettled, frustrated that she hadn't gotten a rise out of me.
"Anyway, I never covered couture," I chirped.
--"Probably because you would have made the models feel insecure," broke in Harris, now standing beside me, his back to Becca.
--"Maaah hero!" sang my in-head choir, accompanied by momentary visions of self in a lacy, white dress, a la Lillian Gish.
Harris hustled me off to the table where sign-up sheets were laid out for all the upcoming young leadership activities.
I dutifully scribbled my name on the Breast Cancer Walkathon page and then for some Shabbat program, only because I saw that he'd signed up for it as well.
Fantasizing was easier before hyphenation.
After the meeting, I helped him and a handful of others put the chairs away. Then, we went and got enormous café lattes and drove up Camelback Mountain to look at the city lights. When I got home later, I pulled out my journal, and in a complete regression to eighth grade, wrote:
"Jessica Shaeffer-Parker." "Jessica Shaeffer Parker." "Jessica and Harris Parker." "Harris Parker and Jessica Shaeffer-Parker."
Fantasizing was easier before hyphenation.
Whatever the case, Harris was downright amazing. Attentive, funny, intelligent, and attractive. Whoa! I thought to myself, nothing is as perfect as this seems. Right?