As soon as she walked in, she felt the tension. It had been a long time since she has been in this building, decades maybe? Her sensible 2-inch heels clicked across the marble floor as she approached the small group huddled next to the elevator, their sharp black suits in unnatural relief against the wallpaper background of palm fronds and tropical birds.
Marilyn was totally prepared for this, but she doubted the men were. She had been reading and studying for weeks now, carrying a dog-eared and coffee-stained notebook everywhere and meticulously documenting every move of the target. It hadn’t been easy, of course, what with her other full time job and taking care of Benny’s estate, but she squeezed it in. She was an overachiever that way, she thought, smiling to herself and squaring her shoulders in anticipation of what was sure to be an interesting meeting.
As she drew closer to the group of men broke apart and spread outward, their heads turning almost in unison to watch her approach. She could care less about them. They weren’t who she was there for, and they watched her warily with a mixture of concern and fascination. As the crowd of suits separated and spread apart she could see her target standing in their midst: A petite woman in a tasteful charcoal Ann Taylor suit, her back to the wall and her head bowed over her own notebook. “A worthy adversary,” Marilyn thought, “I see she does the notebook thing, too.”
The tension in the air was palpable now and she was only a few steps away from the suited woman, who leaned casually against the wall and had yet to look up and acknowledge Marilyn’s approach. The men, however, were starting to sweat. Corporate takeovers in the age of antipatriarci were strange and unpredictable to most men. They could hardly be called “takeovers,” in fact, most womanagers preferred to use terms like merger, synthesis, or ultrabirth. In the men’s time, this meeting would have played out according to an unwritten script, coded by greed and avarice and determined to drive profit at all costs. Clear, straightforward, no messing around. There were goals back then!
It wasn’t like the womanagers were doing it wrong, it was just different. In fact, younger generations didn’t even use the gender signifiers anymore. The post-changemaker generation had no tolerance for reductionary categories, even as Marilyn’s generation continued to use them for lack of a better understanding of reality. It was hard to break apart those old ways of being, to give up an identity that seemed to serve a purpose but in fact were just arbitrary designations, meant to help the older folk categorize and make sense of the world.
“How are you, girlfriend?” Susan said, smiling, as she reached out to embrace her old friend.
“I’m excited, aren’t you?” Marilyn chirped, returning Susan’s embrace and squeezing her shoulders.
“Excited! Yes! I have so many ideas I can’t wait to tell you about!”
“Me too,” returned Marilyn, her eyes glowing with anticipation and mischief. “But first I have a surprise for you.”
“A surprise?” Susan’s eyed widened. “For me? You’re terrible at surprises, Mari. Remember that time At Benny’s 30th birthday, when you wanted to jump out of that cake and — ”
“Yes,” Marilyn interrupted, “and I accidentally mentioned it to him, like, three days before the party and he totally knew about it and then had to pretend to be surprised when I popped out — ”
Susan was trying not to laugh now, her eyes crinkled at the sides. “And you fell over trying to get out of the damn thing and landed on the buffet table and the punchbowl went flying! Remember how Tigger was so freaked out he ran out into the garden and we couldn’t find him for three days?”
That did it, and Marilyn burst into peals of contagious laughter. The men, who had been warily watching this interaction, began to smile and one let out a muffled guffaw.
“Oh my God, Susan, I have missed you! No, seriously, I do have a surprise for you. When you hired me to consult on your business ultrabirth, I decided to do some undercover work. I’ve been spying on you for the past month!”
“Wait, what?” Susan, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes, looked at her old friend in disbelief. “You’ve been following me? How did you pull that off?”
“I was sneaky,” Marilyn answered slyly. “I’ve been collecting observations about your work so we can make better decisions about where you want to go with this business. Now we’ll have a much better idea of what’s working and what needs to be improved. Plus, I took note of the days when you looked the most awesome and sketched some of those outfits for posterity. You’re welcome.”
Laughing, Susan took Marilyn’s arm and they entered the golden elevator to Susan’s penthouse office, followed by a dozen bewildered men in black suits.
Originally published at stasiland.blogspot.com.