the lost man chronicles
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Wednesday, February 8, 2006

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Vanity Fare, cont.

La Vie en Rose
Much to my pleasant surprise, the rest of the evening would pan out into a wonderful confluence of connections. For instance, while we ate dinner I met one of the people at my table, Rose, who happened to be the head communications person in our Company’s International business, a subsidiary of this Fortune 100 Company that has been growing exponentially over the last few years, and a division which I have kept my eye upon from afar. After I told her that not only have I served as one of the key marketing and communications people for the technology department for the last six years, but that I also have three degrees in international relations and thus was very interested in speaking with her, she smiled and suggested I send her my résumé.

Later on in our conversation, I inquired as whether she knew one of our colleagues in the Corporate Communications department, whom I knew was the key media relations person for our international business. I explained I knew him because I went to school with his wife at Columbia. To my utter shock (and a second later – pleasant surprise) she replied, “Oh, he suddenly quit two weeks ago.” Thus, it suddenly occurred to me that she may have asked me for my résumé for a reason, as there is apparently now a very real vacancy to fill.

Strangely enough, that very morning I had posted to a job opening in another department. It was a bit of a tough decision to proceed as such, primarily because I actually love my current job and I have a good relationship with my boss. The only problem is that we are an extremely small unit and thus the chance for a promotion was little to none over the next couple of years—this new job would automatically be a promotion. Hence, after discussing the matter with our department’s HR director, I was persuaded to post, because, as she put it quite bluntly, “This looks like a great opportunity for advancement. Granted it may be a risk, and your boss may hold it against you, because no one likes to lose valuable resources, but he’ll have a year to get over it before your next review. Besides, with little to no mobility in your current position, what are your alternatives?”

Hence, the sudden spring of yet another opportunity this evening made me smile, and it proved particularly fortuitous since I had just updated my résumé over the weekend in preparation for the job opening I was planning to post to. Needless to say, I forwarded it on the very next morning to Rose and couched it in a touch of praise for her tales of world travel. Coincidentally, that afternoon I ran into her at the café and she began praising my dancing abilities to the colleague she was with, adding with a smile and a squint in her eyes “I received your e-mail this morning. I’ll be calling you later.”

It was almost too good to be true, and so I repressed my budding hopes. Yet, at the same time I knew that ambition never rests, and that when one acts fast and aggressively as opportunity presents itself, reality fruitions in favor of those who are willing to take charge and command the direction of their fate.

Rose and I chatted about other things as well, which included a girlish regale of her worldly experiences.

At one point she exuberantly told us about her trip to France where men were tripping over themselves to appeal to her. It was revealed that it had been over a decade since her five fun-filled days and four frolicking nights and so I teased her a bit by taunting, “Rose, that was over ten years ago and you’re still talking about it as if it were yesterday. Darling, it sounds like you sorely need to venture back to ol’ Pair-ee!”

Then again, my cat-call could jus have been be a hiss of envy. For after I extolled my erudite worldliness, she asked with a big smile that expressed instant kinship, “So you must love to travel?”

I blurted, “Oh, yes!,” hoping my excited tone might give me a moment to conjure a colloquial kung-fu move, an abeying sway. For although my wanderlust was quite genuine, my experience abroad was actually, lamentably, quite limited. I could count the number of countries I’ve been to on one hand: Mexico, Canada, Italy and Greece; and I intuited that Rose on the other hand would have to use her fingers and her toes, and then some.

Thus, after a pause that allowed us to soak in the sun of our shared penchant for trains, planes and automobiles, I added exuberantly, “In fact, I’m going to Puerto Rico in March.”

She answered to my secret relief, “Oh, I’ve never been…”

“You’ve never been?” I asked back with a nudging tone of surprise and an innocuous hint of one-upmanship. I deduced this was the moment I might waylay any further inquiry from her and thus avoid any embarrassment for having to admit to my limited experience.

And so I asked her, feeling she was bubbling to share, “So where HAVE you been?”

As if it were a magic word to open the mouth of Ali Baba’s cave, she readily replied with effervescent pleasure, immediately listing all the countries she’d been to, almost as if she had rehearsed recounting countless times before.

I proceeded to ask her what languages she knew and she said that she had studied French and German. I tried to strike up a conversation with her with my best Parisian accent, but she immediately demurred, blushing a bit, a charming rouge that complemented her lithe bouquet of red hair. I let it go and deferred to asking her how long she’d been with the Company. Again she paused, than answered, “a long time.”

You could immediately tell that she was being age-conscious, but I really didn’t care because I thought she was attractive regardless of the number, and thus I pressed on. “Come on now, how long?”

She demurred again by replying “Guess.”

“Oh, I don’t know, ten years maybe?”

“Twenty,” she finally blurted out, as if a great weight had just been unloaded. This was followed by an awkward pause, which I filled in by asking her if she would like to dance. She smiled and readily replied, “I’d love to.”

After a spin on the parquet we sat down and Rose began blathering about how star-struck she was and beamed as she accounted for all the media magnates, high-profile public officials and other emissaries she had seen tonight. Later that evening during dessert, so taken was she by the congregation of well-knowns, Rose professed that she was leaving to make rounds in search of more celebrities.

Next: Happy Birthday Tom

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