Stephanie was not having a very good day.
She had arisen that morning later than she had planned, the unintended but not surprising result of having spent much of the previous evening on an ill-fated agenda of clearing the sexual cobwebs, so to speak. (It had been three months since her toes had curled, and that was far too long.) Sadly, none of the men at The Angry Button Speakeasy on West Fifth Street had paid her the slightest bit of attention. (The bartender, on the other hand, had a very satisfying orgasm when he totaled up her bar tab.)
Stephanie arrived at work two hours after she should have, fully expecting her boss to make an annoying fuss over the situation, because he was an idiot with control issues. Instead, she was startled to learn that The Idiot had finally listened to her claims that Stephanie’s co-worker, a wretch of a man named Harper, was completely useless. Idiot had sent Harper back to the valley from whence he came.
Stephanie was only allowed to revel in this glorious announcement for two minutes.
At the three-minute mark, Idiot informed Stephanie that she would now be responsible for all the job duties that Harper had been shirking, as the company didn’t plan to hire a Harper replacement since, as Stephanie had pointed out so often, Harper had never done anything. Surely Stephanie could handle both jobs?
At the five-minute mark, Stephanie was pummeling an innocent paper towel dispenser in the employee bathroom. (Said dispenser later filed charges, but that’s an entirely different blog post.)
During her lunch hour, which Stephanie still took at the regular time despite her tardiness, because a girl has needs, there was a misunderstanding at Antoine’s concerning the cobb salad she had ordered from the menu. She was presented, instead, with something the waiter deemed “The Nantucket Scramble”. It smelled of fish that had known better days. The lingering gin in Stephanie’s stomach did not react well to this pungency, and she fled Antoine’s with expediency, unsatiated once again.
At the end of the workday, Stephanie shut off her Underwood typewriter, signed out of the Pre-Internet, and fled the office building. She was about to board the streetcar named Desire, when her slightly-twitching eye caught the neon sign of The Angry Button just down the street. Surely she would have better luck this time, yes?
Stephanie took a seat at the bar and ordered a martini.
For some insipid reason, the bartender handed her a diminutive glass that could barely hold an olive, never mind enough gin to wash away the sins of the day. (Perhaps there had been an issue with the credit card she had used the previous evening? It was entirely possible, as such things were still relatively new and they were still trying to work out the kinks, what with the pesky Pre-Internet going down all the time.)
Determined to overcome the situation, Stephanie retrieved a tarnished but still decent cigarette case from her beaded handbag and plucked out one of the occupants. She raised said implement to her mouth and waited, hoping that there was still a decent gentleman out there who would light it for her and then light her later.
No one responded to her opening gambit, male or female. For a very long time.
Suddenly, a man straddled the barstool beside her.
The man ordered a seltzer with lemon.
Stephanie dimmed, but did not entirely give up hope. Buttons still needed to be pushed.
The man turned to her and said: “This is such a glorious day. My boyfriend Harper got fired this morning but by the afternoon he had been hired for twice the salary at a new job.”
Stephanie ordered a second tiny martini.
It was going to be another long night…
Previously published as just a snippet in “Crusty Pie”. Completely revised and extended for this post.
Categories: Past Imperfect