By Amber Robbin
“They’re at it again.”
“The hussies upstairs.”
“Oh, is that what they’re calling them now?”
“No, they say worse things. That’s what I’M calling them,” she said, flashing her classic Cheshire grin.
“You are aware, I work upstairs?”
“And why exactly are we hussies again?”
“Cause ya dress all skanky and show off your goodies to make the big bucks.”
I sighed in exhausted amusement, as always with her.
“Go sit with your hussy friends, hussy! You can’t mix with us kitchen people.”
“Ok, ya little brat, shut it. I’ll sit with whomever I want.”
“Which is it?! Am I a hussy or a grandma?”
“You’re a grandma…with big titties!”
“Jesus, Phoebe!” I said, releasing an exasperated chortle. “I gotta get upstairs.”
“I know, I know. Go be with your bitches.”
I shot her a look of shallow contempt. She smiled down at her plate of employee meal, having anticipated my reaction and looking absolutely pleased with herself.
“Ok, I’ll see you later. I love you. Be good. Don’t let those handsy kitchen boys put their paws on you!” I said, purposely smothering her in copious amounts of mom-like affection.
“Jeeeeez! You’re embarrassing me. Go work those titties already!”
I threw her a “for fuck’s sake” over my shoulder as I made my way to the elevator.
Crazy fucking intern, I smiled to myself. The doors shut. We’d somehow followed each other from the ad agency where she’d interned the summer before to an upscale hotel in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park, where she baked for 12 hours a day with the martyrous kitchen staff in the basement, while I hustled in my little black dress at the swanky rooftop bar that crowned the old building. Floor 13. I’d reached the top, yeah right. I took a deep breath, as the doors began to open, and prepared myself for the shit show.
The first thing I saw were the giant glass panels that circled the edge of the rooftop fortress. Then, just over the edge, a glorious panorama of crystal blue lake, steel skyline, and the Drive, lined in full-bloom greenery. It was the most dazzling rooftop view in the city, and on that roof, the most dazzlingly pretentious view of self-proclaimed elite you could imagine, swarming in endless droves.
I made my way to the POS to clock in. Then to the bathroom for my mandatory once-over. At the black marble countertop were two of my co-workers.
“Hey girl, hey!” they chimed.
“Hi guys, how are you?”
I nestled in between them for a sliver of mirror to check my hair and makeup. They swiveled left and right like a couple of whirling dervishes, tugging and poking at themselves to adjust their already perfectly sleek figures.
Shayna, the one on my right, was clawing away at her head like she had some horrible scalp disease: “Gawd, my hair is just so flat! It was perfect on the way over here, and of course, it falls as soon as I get to work. Ughhh.”
Breanna echoed back: “Ohhh, don’t even get me started…” (We didn’t say a word. She got started.) “I have been sooo bloated the last few days, I look like a cow! I can’t wear any of my dresses to work because they all hug my pouch!”
I flicked my eyes to catch a glimpse of her “pouch” – what looked like the natural, muscular curve of her lower abs, flanked on each side by her hip bones.
I focused all of my attention on finishing my eyeliner, feeling my hand pick up speed to save myself from the crossfires of ritual self-hatred. The room fell silent as the ladies fixed their respective “flat hair” and “pouches.” As I applied mascara, it took everything I had not to shoot myself a look of forbidden self-satisfaction, announce loudly ‘I look fucking fabulous’, and walk out.
To be continued…
Amber Robbin is the creator of Tumbleweed Diaries. She is passionate about languages, world travel, and currently working on a book about her adventures in Italy.