It’s half seven in the morning, and already I can hear the metallic drone of traffic as the cabbies and the bus drivers surge and stall the first round of life into the city center. The sound of tires on wet asphalt seeps through the blackout shades like waves in the distance. I make a mental note: book cottage on east shore before summer rush, slide out of bed, and plop down on the floor. I tuck my feet under the nightstand, puff out twenty crunches and collapse back onto the rug.
Five more. One. Two. Okay, two. Two’s good.
The alarm bleeps, and I tap it off with a toe.
Brad rolls over with a groan and buries his platinum head under one of his three goosedown pillows.
‘Morning,’ I say in my best Scarlet drawl and swat at his dangling foot. Brad doesn’t do mornings. They’re bourgeois. He mumbles something into the pillow. ‘You’ve got that shoot today in Astoria,’ I call back to him from the bathroom. ‘Three snoozes. Max.’
In Brad’s not so humble opinion, anyone who bothers to get out of bed before ten is a ‘spaniel’. And to do it five days a week to hold up a desk? That is skirting on madness. Of course, Brad’s baseline for reality is a penthouse apartment in Soho, a string of private art colleges, and a very doting, very connected mommy. Where do you slot a sixty hour work week in there? Two vampish spreads in Vogue and he’s fashion’s ‘it’ boy. The fact seems almost to annoy him. He could’ve taken pictures of dog turds and been the next big thing (his words), but you should see the way he laps up the fandom of tweedy, ism-spouting types.
Last week, for instance, he towed me with him to another gala opening, the same coterie of art haus chicks trussed on all sides, nodding and chin rubbing at ten by ten shots of empty blue sky. I parked myself beside the hors d’oeuvres and tallied the backlog of spreadsheets on my smartphone. I know, I should have at least pretended to be interested this time, but I had a deadline. I didn’t have time to stand around schmoozing over the subtleties of cobalt and cerulean and ultramarine. It’s blue, alright?! Job done.
Unlike my prodigal boyfriend, I don’t possess the talent of making something out of nothing. I have to work at what I want, and I mean flat out eat, sleep, and breathe it. It’d be all too easy to resent Brad; but if I had three trust funds, honestly, I’d do a bit of lazing in bed too. By the way, I most definitely do not have a trust fund. What I do have is a chance of a lifetime junior post at Markham & Associates—the slickest ad firm in New York—and I’m this close to landing the promotion of my dreams. To say I’ve put in the long hours is beyond understatement. My best friend, Kate, says I’m starting to resemble Ozzy Osbourne (if someone dragged him through a car wash and then beat him with a stick). Seriously?! It’s not that bad. My eyes aren’t exactly ‘racooned’ black; and, okay, my skin is a touch on the pasty side, but that’s the look now, right?
Keep your shirt on, Kate, the long haul ends TODAY. Thank God. I’d never admit it, but I cannot wait until I’m finally in the boardroom pitching for the directorship. It’s been twelve-hour days for three months, and that’s straight through the weekends! I haven’t eaten a vegetable since Kate’s Christmas tofurkey, Brad’s communicating almost exclusively in a cryptic sort of text speak, and my dreams (when I can sleep) invariably feature me, a quarter of my actual size, dodging across my desk as my boss, Stuart Markham and my office nemesis, Roger Kline, and a long line of clients try to crush me with big black binders.
I pad down the hall in my slippers and heave a monster yawn at my smartphone. What’s on today’s to-do list?
Collate stats on late run samples.
Deliver Down Home campaign to Stuart & Co.
I halve a Murray’s bagel, pop it in the toaster, and grind two glorious cups’ worth of dark roast Costa Rican into my prehistoric drip machine. One of those flash enamel espresso makers—that is what I’ll splurge on with my first director’s pay check.
The caramel sweet smell percs into the air, and my stomach curdles. Should I be worried about today? I flick open the business section of the Times, same as every morning, and scan the least jargony bits of The Wall Street Journal, but my brain keeps jarring back to the office. According to water cooler gossip, I am first in line for the big time. I floored Stuart with my inaugural campaign, a groundbreaking mp4 hub for Brooklyn label Two Tone Records, and this latest campaign is a sure thing for international syndication. Last week, Kate shot me so many winks across the boardroom I thought she’d developed a tick, and then Tina, my already prone-to-fits-of-snorting assistant, can hardly keep a straight face when there’s even the slightest mention of ‘promotion’.