Saturday, May 24, 2014

Hostile Makeover

Searching the nether reaches of my hard drive for story snippets, I had a pretty good laugh over some truly horrible writing. And with the finish line in sight (i.e. the close of the school year), I needed a good laugh. And all that bad writing got me to thinking. Everyone's got to start somewhere, right? It's all just a gateway to something better, at least, that's the hope of every writer.

Sam James, my first attempt at humorous writing, marks the moment I first felt like a writer. The title of this post, as well as the following excerpt, is borrowed from chapter two.  Secretary Samantha, who is less than posh and poised, has her first spa day with her boss, Vanessa Sumers, who is the epitome of posh and poise.
Excerpt from Sam James

Stepping into the office, Sam’s determination dissolved. The soft cream walls, the gleaming bank of windows separating the main office from Vanessa's inner sanctum, and Sam's large, inviting desk with the comfy swivel chair, should have put her at ease.  But smack in the middle of it, like a queen bee with her drones, Ms. Sumers, in full monarch-mode, bustled about, bossing everyone to within an inch of their lives.
“You’re…early,” Sam observed.
Vanessa waved a hand dismissively. "How can we leave the company prepared for our absence if we don’t put in extra time?"
Sam cleared her throat. “About that, Vanessa—“
But naturally Vanessa wasn't listening, at least not to anything beyond the sound of her own voice.  “Our first priority is tying up the loose ends here.  It will be quite a push to be ready by next Friday, but I’m sure we can do it.”
“Friday?” Surprise and shock vied for first place in Sam's mind.  “But…but…weren’t the tickets for next month?”
“Yes,” Vanessa replied, “But I can’t give anyone the satisfaction of lording it over me when word gets out that Derick and I are through.  So, I exchanged them for an earlier date.” The forced cheeriness in her tone snagged at Sam.  Could sadness be hidden behind the cool, efficient exterior?
No way.
After a moment, Vanessa plowed on briskly. “Now, let’s see.  Schedule a spa day, if you please.  And we'll both need hair appointments."  She cast a disapproving glance at Sam's mousy brown bun.  "Contact François so he can fit us in. Oh, and email Rebecca at Dolce.  We'll need something extra special for the cruise.”  Pausing momentarily, she noticed Sam’s unresponsiveness.  “Hello," Vanessa said, snapping her fingers in Sam's face. “Are you planning on writing this down?”
Something in her tone prompted the automatically reply, “Oh, um, of course Miss Sumers. I’ll take care of it right away.”
Vanessa, brushed off her hands, and with an expression of satisfaction, sailed off to torture some other underling.  Sam sighed as she looked down at the list: spa, hair, Dolce & Gabbana.  It sounded wonderful, but knowing Vanessa, Sam was certain she would suck all the fun out of it.

Two days later, Sam found herself rushing through downtown traffic, wedging her gray Corolla between old lady drivers in town cars and hormonal teenagers in sports cars to make her spa appointment on time.  Narrowly missing a collision with one of said teenagers, she blew out a breath of relief and reviewed the last few days.  Filled with last minute tasks and long days sequestered behind the main desk, they had dragged on and on. Vanessa had been too occupied with planning their escape to be much of an annoyance, but everyone else was so irked at being left with extra responsibilities that they were making up for it with interest.  The last 48 hours had given new meaning to the term “hostile work environment.”
With feelings of misgiving, Sam pulled into the parking lot and switched off the ignition.  The building, a brick structure featuring wide picture windows with large photos of women and men in the middle of various spa treatments, seemed harmless enough.  Sam would have given anything for a glimmer of the calm happiness splashed across the faces of those depicted on the windows.  With all she'd passed through, Sam merited a genuine spa day, but she had a feeling this one would be more taxing than relaxing.  Taking a deep breath, she stepped out of the car and pocketed her keys. A few steps and her hand was on the metal handle, steeling herself for the worst, she pushed open the glass doors, entered the uber-posh, extra white, waiting room, and was greeted the beaming face of her boss, she knew she was in it. 

Later on, still smarting from her first spa experience, she would write:
Visiting a spa should be unspeakably relaxing, an experience almost spiritual in nature.  It should never include the following:
a) Whacking the bare back and hindquarters with tree limbs (a sensation comparable to receiving “stripes” with a cat o’ nine tails)
b) Peeling skin from the skull, a.k.a.“exfoliation” completed by a sadomasochist named Bindy
c) Scouring and hacking fingernails/toenails with well-sharpened dental equipment and something akin to a belt sander
d) The application of an unholy amount of hot wax to unmentionable areas and the forcible removal of said wax along with a healthy amount of flesh,  
e) So-called “gentle” massage that requires enough oil to grease up several beach-front body builders and the brute force of a man called Brutus

Needless to say, the bulk of the weekend was required to recuperate from the deluxe treatments received on Sam’s first spa day.
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Thanks for reading!  If you'd like to read more about sassy Samantha James or Vanessa Sumers, take a look at Dealing with Divas and Finding Myself in Literature.