I'd noticed her shoes in the morning- one brown, one navy Ferragamo bow flat. She'd laughed when she caught me looking and told me that she had mixed the pairs accidentally. I told her about the time I'd forgotten to take off my huge lion slippers one morning before heading to my 10th grade homeroom. And that's how it started- with me trading one embarrassment for another- always the consummate hostess, even if it was my first week at this place.
As she headed to her desk, I did a fast inventory of her Lafont Paris frames, long, swinging glass bead necklace and highlighted bob. (This last had been lovingly slashed all along the lower line and had me contemplating for the millionth time the sad fact that in most cases hairdressers just will not take my word for it that I want a very wild, rock and roll cut. I look too delicate- too gentil. And they, thinking they know the lady that I am better than I do, always manage to make me look as wild as a Palm Beach print. In other words, only wild- looking to the wildly ignorant.) When I looked at her body, I saw that her striped knit top and linen cigarette pants were neat and rumpled all at the same time. Which managed to make her look very french. I'd been told she was extremely eccentric, but so far, her oddness struck me as harmless and charming.
Later in the morning, she came back and leaned her skinny ass against my desk, wanting to know how I was getting along so far. She carried the lion's share of a neat little "welcome to the office" exchange and I answered on autopilot, my brain concentrating on her strong, flawless jawline. Wow, I hope my jawline looks like that when I'm her age. And then Stupid! You have to start with a jawline like that to end up that way. Ohhh. Right. Man-in-the-moon-face. Never gonna look like that without implants. Mean, mean implants. That's a negative, Ghost Rider. Huh? I blinked back into the conversation just as she'd finished saying something about the weather.
"You definitely moved to Louisiana at the hottest part of the year," she said emphatically. I shrugged and laughed. Stupid Yankee. She started up again, "When I first moved here two decades ago, I kept coming down with yeast infections." She continued, comfortably oblivious to my struggle to keep my eyebrows in place. "My doctor finally told me to stop wearing underwear during the hot months and that cleared it all up." I bit my cheek to keep from laughing and threw a panicked glance over her shoulder to the open door of the nearest partner's office only ten feet away. I knew that if I could hear everything he ever said in that room, he was definitely getting an earful right now.
"You gotta do whatcha gotta do," I said politely, noncommittally. "Well, you know," she confided, "I just got so used to it that I didn't even wear them in the winter. In fact, I haven't worn underwear for twenty years now." She nodded, rather satisfied with how that had all worked out. "You might want think about not wearing them, either," she offered now, leaning in close to my face and dropping her voice chummily. So helpful. Thanks. "You know- if you find that you're getting yeast infections, too." I smiled my best April Marie smile and reached for the ringing phone.