Today’s WordBowl Word-of-the-Day “deserve” — a loaded word — courtesy of Tom Richter. Consummate host. Mad Scientist. Founder, Formulist & Chief Bottle Washer of Tomr’s Tonic
FabulousJustFabulous! Exaggeration, wielded with almost-sincerity, sales-tress stretching and tucking jacket, blouse. Her reflection is significantly more fabulous than when she strode in, sharp leather taming her bulging hips — ample evidence she is not appropriately stress-starving her way to achieving the hollowed cheekbones of the few women at the executive level above hers — plunging neckline a distraction from the eye bags scientists have yet to formulate a product to eradicate.
The image in the mirror does not look like the sort of woman who tolerates ineptitude in others, certainly not the sort who is viewed as the go-to fixer of shitstorms created by bungling departments not reporting to her and yet, client-facing, ultimately her responsibility. This woman, the one in the mirror, refrains from re-checking the oh-so-not-on-sale price tags, draws a credit card, cocks it towards the sales-tress. Banishes guilt. Swaggers out, swinging boutique shopping bags stuffed with vestiges of the day, the conservative corporate uniform shed. She is obviously too fabulous to head home to her overly-appointed kitchen. The latest hotspot is tucked down an alley a mere few blocks away. She has earned the right to be waited upon.
DiningAlone? Solicitous, wielded almost without judgment, maitre de steering her to a barstool as sleek as her new ensemble. Bartender boasts of his martini prowess, she appreciates the professional flirtation, speed of alcohol-to-glass, more. The first icy sip slicks down her throat, rekindles the fire in her belly. The fire that propelled her to the just-shy-of-lofty professional pinnacle on which she perches, still, despite the maneuvering of would-be peers to knock her down a peg or two.
A wicked, leggy Bordeaux —off-menu, special — appears to accompany her frites, another with the truffle gnocchi. Double-carbs, but what the hell, tonight is for treats, tomorrow for repercussions both career and caloric, and she is much, much better, body full, head light. She monitors e.mail chains — technoslave, bound by phone — but refrains from responding. She should signal for the check. Bartender introduces the younger guy two seats down, refills her glass with a practiced wink. BanterBanterBanter. All that is waiting for her is an aborted home improvement project inspired by an in-flight magazine article and a draft of tomorrow’s largely pointless presentation trumpeting “insights” into nascent markets already en route to irrelevance. Here, in this getup, she is a woman worthy of attention.
A nitecap — OneMore! — a final toast.
In heels not completely cooperative with cobblestones she mince-marches down the alleyway, resisting the urge to toss her former clothes, and with them, the person she is everyday, stumbles forward — pushed? — lurches back — embraced? — shoulder wrenched, jacket jerked, purse ripped away, bags flung, clothes spiraling, phone skidding, knees scraping, ears roaring. Shouting. She is hunched, all fours, palms ground-gritted.
AreYouOkay?WhichWayDidHeGo? Too fast, it happened too fast. Despite the armor she wears she is weak — worse, stupid — vulnerable in ways she will not acknowledge. Out too late. A drink too far. Gentrifying neighborhood. Flashy clothes. She knows better. Ingrained from adolescence: Don’tWalkAloneAtNight.
“deserve” was a demanding piece, handwritten first with a mint-festooned Green Chartreuse and Amaro Averna cocktail concoction at Rotisserie Georgette (midtown east), second pass drafted with a bitter-strong Americano at Birch Coffee (nomad) and edited underneath the towering windows and soaring ceilings of the Rose Room at the New York Public Library (bryant park).
What word strikes you? I look forward to writing a story inspired by it (use form below)!