Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Dress up

The translucent fabric was printed with sailboats. It was nearly gaudy but shades of vibrant gold and rose and turquoise appealed to a smaller Katie and I coaxed Grandma into letting me put the scarf in the hall closet where my other toys were kept. I would wrap it about my neck, feeling rather grown up and beautiful all the while, and apply Grandma’s red lipstick to my tiny mouth. Sometimes, when I was feeling particularly glamorous, I would clomp around in a pair of high heels.

To this day, I don’t apply dark colors to my lips, preferring subtle shades of glosses instead. I also eschewed the scarves wrapped around the hangers of some of my better suits. One is navy and brown with pretty flowers upon it. The other is covered with a swirling pattern of black and blue. I think they’re both lovely and have on multiple occasions peered at myself in the mirror while trying to arrange one of them around my neck.

“I look,” I would tell my reflection each time, “like I’m playing dress up.” Then I’d watch as I pulled the fabric from my neck and hung it neatly to be stored once again. For reasons I don’t want to describe, I decided there was no choice but to wear a scarf on Monday. So I frowned in the mirror as I looped and tugged and arranged, finally rolling my eyes and deciding to pretend it wasn’t happening as I walked out the door with fabric fluttering as it clung to my neck.

“We can start,” a man told one of his subordinates. “The most important person is already here.” I looked up from the screen of my laptop, looking around the room and frowning when I was unable to locate this important person. “You,” the man offered when I looked at him and cocked my head in question.

“Oh,” I said, lips curving tentatively as I tried to decide whether he was joking.

“Go ahead,” he told the engineer and I blinked in surprise before turning my chair and offering my attention while the presentation proceeded.

I typed a name and followed it with a question mark in a chat window this afternoon. I watched the green light patiently and sighed while ‘Name is typing,’ appeared in the status window. For a long time. People need to type faster. But a greeting finally appeared, allowing me to (quickly) send an inquiry. He immediately agreed to meet me immediately and walked me through a theoretical explanation and a practical tutorial within minutes of my sending the request.

“Katie!” someone else called as I was walking back across campus. Not recognizing him, I waited and hoped he’d ask a question that would offer context. He soon did and I answered it while carefully examining his face while repeating his name in my head. Though I normally walk around completely obvious to all around me – drafting blog posts or crafting some pleasant daydream – I’m always surprised when someone recognizes me and I don’t know them.

It happened three more times on my walk – people would greet me by name and offer a project update, ask a question or request my opinion. I would run my fingers over the ends of my scarf while we spoke, torn between being ridiculously flattered and completely befuddled.

“This is OK?” I blinked up at her as I sat at my desk, and looked down at the list she placed before me.

“I guess so,” I murmured, going over it again to check for errors.

“You approve? Officially?”

“Oh,” I said, surprised. “Can I do that?” I returned her smile while she nodded and I took another look before offering my approval. Officially.

I tugged the scarf from my neck when I got home and took several conference calls without it draped around my neck. I glanced at the puddle it formed on the carpet and grinned. I still feel like I’m playing dress up when I wear it. But perhaps I’m getting closer to being an actual professional than I realized.


Jenn, PhD said...

I love scarves, but until recently also felt like playing dress up when wearing them... they always look so pretty and so "right" on others, but I felt strange... one day, I wore one anyway, and someone actually commented on how pretty it looked. I still don't wear them often, but now, instead of feeling silly, I feel pretty.

Anonymous said...

yay for having "officialness" :o)

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