Location: The Alexander, Manhattan
There’s no such thing as a pretty breakup. Just last week at a book launch party, I met a woman whose boyfriend dumped her by giving her a T-Shirt that read What doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger.” He didn’t even buy the tee,” she said. “He works at a magazine and it was in a goodie bag.” A friend recently spent a wonderful year with a man, until he went on vacation to Ibiza, fell in lust with a 22-year-old in a lilac wig and sequined bikini, and never came back. They got married on horseback and have a cat named Lulu Lemons, as my friend recently discovered through Instagram. He’d told her that he was a dog person. She now can barely look at her phone without bad chocolate cravings.
The same counts for breaking up with your job. There’s no fail-proof strategy or ride off into the sunset. It simply tends to get unbelievably weird. Especially when you work at The Alexander and no one leaves the number one luxury department store, or rather, no one leaves Richard Green, The Alexander’s Chief Marketing Officer and my boss. After six years of curating and writing content to drive up sales of designer gowns, vicuña coats, and pearl embellished clutches as Richard’s digital fashion content editor, he considered my notice, and I quote, “Weak, crazy bullshit.”
There are two types of horrible male bosses. There is the slime ball who sucks up to those with longer titles and bigger cars and tells those with shorter titles and a bus ticket that they should be grateful for the job he gave them, and there is the stallion who doesn’t care about anybody with any title or car because it distracts him from what he’s after: absolute power. He is the one you look at and think,“Yep, you have a person locked up in your basement.” Richard is the leader of the stallions, the kind of boss who makes you appreciate being alone, in a dark forest, late at night. The last thing he said to me? “It’s you, it’s not me.” If looks could kill, I just missed the Titanic’s last life boat.
And as life never gets so bad it can’t get worse, I ran into Tatiana Wong in the elevator, on my way out. “Sweetie, you seem a little maniac,”she said, sighing. “And I don’t like it.” Tatiana Wong, Tati for friends, was Richard’s favorite Alexandrette. Old money rich on multiple continents, Bikram yoga beautiful, high heeled and influential. Several weeks ago I’d told Richard about my idea to bring a different perspective to the store’s digital fashion content and make the tone of voice and fashion topics more diverse, approach style and beauty as an exploration into how we present ourselves in the world and why. Richard had smirked and said, “Freud doesn’t sell dresses, Tatiana Wong does.” That was the end of the conversation and this was the end of me. Somebody should fix this elevator. How long could it possibly take to get to the ground floor?
“I liked your piece on designer muses,” Tati’s eyes peered into my soul, “it read like a dirty little secret.” Exactly what I needed to hear. My writing sounds like porn to the ears of the posh and snobby. I felt my jaws clench. “Thank you,” I muttered, “it was my last post though, I quit today.” Breathe in, breathe out, reassure lizard brain. Must buy donuts.
“What does that mean, really?”
Of course. How could someone who doesn’t need a job understand the concept of quitting one?
“Well,” I heard myself say, “I told Richard that I don’t want to write for him anymore.” Tatiana’s sudden burst of laughter filled the elevator. “I wish I’d been there,” she chuckled, “Rich doesn’t like to be dumped.” For the record, I didn’t dump Rich. I couldn’t if I wanted to. In the world according to Richard Green there is only one fish in the sea. And it isn’t you or me.
“So, whatcha gonna do now?” Tati asked, applying red lipstick.
“I was thinking about maybe going freelance, write for different magazines and online shops.” I had been so busy with taking a step into Richard’s strangely sterile office that I hadn’t given my next-next step out of the building much thought. Also, I’d feared dealing with Richard’s intense energy for days. I didn’t want to jinx my courage by considering my future.
Tati stared at me, expressionless. “Write for others? Isn’t that lovely.” She said the word like she meant its opposite, with the opposite being as appealing as natural childbirth.
Maybe it was my stubborn refusal to be “lovely” or maybe it was me feeling cornered in a closed space, but I blurted out, “Actually, I’d love to start my own blog.” I was either having a nervous breakdown or a nervous breakthrough because I continued my elevator confession without so much as a pause for breath, “I can imagine writing about my multi-cultural life in the city, about being adopted and a mom, share my thoughts and opinions about parenthood, friendship, relationships, work, style. You know, a place for the thoughts and opinions Richard Green didn’t want me to have.”
“Okay then.” Tati closed her leopard trench coat. “I’ll be your intern.”
Was she serious or sarcastic? Her icy-sounding tone made it impossible to tell. “What are you talking about? I don’t need an intern. I have nothing to intern for or at.” Tati flashed me her enormous toothy white smile. “Of course, you don’t. We’ll have so much fun. Kiss, kiss.”
And that was that. The doors opened and my new, radiant, condescending, elitist, rich bitch intern sashayed out of the elevator on four inch Gucci heels.
I’d lost a Rich and gained a Tati. I wasn’t sure if I had to laugh, cry, curse or start smoking.