An Essay About Literally Eating Out Of My Boss’ Hand

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Chillin’ behind the receptionist desk at my first job post-graduation in 2006.

There is a stereotype about small-town girls who try to follow their dreams in the big city.  It plays out like one of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  After being drawn in to a lifestyle much too fast for them, the young women become disillusioned, desperate and eventually prostitutes before the city spits them back out into a meth lab upstate.

None of that happened to me when I moved from a small town in Ohio to New York City at age 21, but it wasn’t for lack of poor-decision making.  I ordered long island iced teas because they sounded classy.  I trusted perfect strangers because it seemed rude not to.  I wore fishnet stockings to work.  Big city sophistication was hard for me to nail because it was a concept I most closely associated with Mr. Monopoly.  I felt awkward all the time and operated under the misguided notion that everyone around me knew something I didn’t.  I miscalculated my environment to be much more foreign than it actually was.  It was as if I were an alien pretending to be human.

My first job in the city was as a receptionist at a small, animation studio.  The kind of animation they specialized in was called “motion graphics,” meaning they designed end tags for McDonalds and Subaru ads.  Though the work was strictly commercial, many of the animators acted like rebellious artists and accepted nothing less than the rock star treatment from lowly assistants like myself.  We literally called them “rock stars.” I now suspect my boss, Andrea, was doing so sarcastically.  But at the time her tone was lost on me.  As far as I was concerned, these guys were the Mick Jaggers of creating 3D plaque for toothpaste ads.

So, as you are probably gathering, this was a pretty fast paced, New York lifestyle.  Who’d have thought me—a scrawny girl from the cornfields of Ohio—would get to work among genuine artists?  Yet every task intimidated me.  Tasks like picking out flower arrangements for the office.  I quickly learned that picking up mums from the corner bodega was like putting a wet fart in a vase.  I also had to order lunches for these rock stars—cool ethnic foods, far removed from my meat and potatoes upbringing.  Everyone was so goddamn cool and worldly in my eyes.  It was all I could do to keep up. Andrea, a fellow transplant with years of experience on me, often tried to calm my nerves and encouraged me to just be myself. But I was too intimidated to think clearly. Sometimes all she could do was smile and shake her head in my direction.

Then one day a partner in the company came to town from LA:  a partner we wanted to impress.  This involved multiple hip flower arrangements and sandwich platters—trendy sandwich platters with something called, “spicy ketchup.”

When the partner arrived, he was wearing a bright green silk shirt, cowboy boots and Ray-ban sunglasses.  He was in his late 50s and though his shirt was pretty hideous in retrospect, I immediately took note that bright green silk shirts were the height of sophistication.  Growing up, I had been taught not to speak unless spoken to when around my elders, so I failed to wrap my head around the idea that he and I were essentially coworkers.

Much to my relief, he loved the plate of chopped melons I’d put out.  Maybe too much.  He kept talking to me about the melons—to the point that I began to panic.  Maybe it was the power dynamic between an old man in a bright green silk shirt and a young girl from Ohio, but the topic of melons seemed taboo and sexual.  I began to sweat.  The next thing I knew, he picked up a piece of melon and seemed to hold it out for me to try.  Looking at the juicy melon between his fingers, I froze.  What would a sexy and sophisticated New York career woman do?

I leaned in and took the melon from his hand with my mouth.

I stepped back knowing immediately that what I’d just done was weird.  Really weird.  “Quick,” I thought, “say something to make it better!”

“Mmmmmm….” I moaned, pretending to enjoy the sexy melon.

The room seemed to freeze.  Every rock star was there—even the guy with a simple yet elegant approach to KFC ads.  I couldn’t meet any of their eyes.  There was an awkward beat during which my heart exploded and then the day mercifully moved on. As we moved into the conference room, Andrea put her hand on my shoulder. I turned sheepishly in her direction. She was shaking her head and smiling.

Perhaps if it weren’t for that mortifying moment, I would have made a graver mistake, like so many other small town girls attempting to follow their dreams.   Maybe I would have ended up dancing on the bar at Coyote Ugly like in the classic film Coyote Ugly.  But, luckily for me, I learned a lesson that day.  Slow down, be yourself and use a fork.

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The Problem Is Not Kanye

Beck watches Kanye West after Beck won album of the year for "Morning Phase," at the 57th annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles

The real problem with Kanye’s Grammy stunt was not that it was disrespectful to musicians everywhere—especially Beck—the problem was that it made me feel hella old!  Is “hella” still cool to say?  I don’t know anymore!  I wasn’t cool enough to pull off saying “hella” when I was actually young. How did this happen? When did I officially lose that small crumb of street cred I earned in 1998 when I started reading Spin Magaine?

It’s not that this is the first time I’ve outgrown something.  I do it all the time.  And, usually, feeling too old does not bug me.  I did not care when I grew out of Barbie because her waxy body was starting to creep me out, anyways.  I was fine when I grew out of vodka screwdrivers, too, because those were starting to give me 2-day headaches.  These days, I do not even flinch when I see a blog headline about how old the Full House twins are now—”Whatever,” I think, “it’s been 20 years—deal with it!”  But to grow out of touch with the music industry?  I’ve always joked about it but I never thought it would actually happen.  I never thought I’d see the day when a musician I respect (Kanye, if you’d believe it) would call Beck’s artistic abilities into question.  It’s Beck!  Don’t we all remember how many stuffy, music industry rules Odelay seemed to break?  Don’t we remember when he turned emo with us for “Lost Cause” and then brought us right back to life with “Hell Yes?”

Kim Kardashian’s Instagram post reacting to Beck’s win sent a shiver down my spine. “Who’s next?” I wondered, “Radiohead?”

This is the Beck won that award face?!?!?!

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Kanye’s rejection of Beck seems to have set off a chain reaction in my perception of age.  Two weeks ago, I felt like a spry Millennial.  Now I’m starting to wonder if Generation X will take children of the mid-80s.

So, to whomever is in charge of membership over at Generation X, below is a list of my qualifications.  By that I mean, below is a list of things that have made me feel old over the past week.  I hope I am not shooting myself in the foot by composing my application to your esteemed generation in the form of a list—I know that is a very Millennial thing to do.  It’s just that I’m too lazy to do it any other way.  My attention span is short, you see, and I feel I should not have to explain myself and should instead just be given everything I want.  So here goes:

  • I used Urban Dictionary to look up “on fleek” last night.
  • I’ve purchased two bouquets of freshly cut tulips in the last 10 days.
  • Lady Gaga is engaged and not to a Muppet.  She’s legit engaged like an adult.
  • I overheard someone say that Leonardo DiCaprio is entering his Marlon Brando phase.
  • Jon Stewart announced he is leaving the Daily Show.
  • Brian Williams has now come and gone and I still confuse him with Peter Jennings.
  • I don’t care about the Oscars because, ugh, it’s all the same. Every year the same!
  • I like a good lentil soup.
  • I cannot relate to this Disney Princess phase the internet is going through.
  • Most of the apps on my phone are a mystery to me.  And I feel like all of them are spying on me.
  • I’m super into the smell of lavender lately.  It’s speaking to me, beckoning me into my 30s!

Thank you for your time and consideration, Generation Next (remember that commercial??)  I look forward to hearing from you via Hotmail.

image via Page Six