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As You Should

As You Should

At a work holiday party last night on the 25th floor of a high-rise downtown. Panorama view of the city, conference rooms galore, shiny logo on the wall, imposing entry and dollars spilling out of the windows. I’m talking with a partner at the firm and I’m impressed by the fact that he’s six-foot-two, is wearing a red tie, and has an office down the hall. I think I have ties in a box somewhere labeled “weddings,” my office is my laptop, and he’s got three inches on me.

“How’s work?” he asks.

“Just balancing it with with life,” I somehow say. My not-usually-terribly-quick-wit much accelerated by three glasses of wine. He doesn’t want to hear about my day to day. I’m not even sure he wants an answer. If we’re going to play a game of wits, I’m in. We’re not on a level playing field. His assistant, who’s still here at 10 pm, certainly makes more money than I do. I’m not unimpressed with the scene.

“Are you still spending all summer in Europe?” he asks. He knows I tend to be “out of the office” for a couple months at a time.

“Yes,” I say.

I add nothing else, I want to see his reaction. I could add all kinds of excuses, side stories or rational reasoning, but I manage to hold it back. I have another sip of my wine. He might think I’m some fly-by-night, but I’ve been taking the summers off for the several years I’ve known him. He smiles at me a little. This from a corporate high flyer who doesn’t smile much. In an odd way, I need his recognition, I need his respect. I know the guy a bit, I like him, he is super sharp and under that dark blue suit has a dry sense of humor that’s also as sharp as a splinter. He knows we play on different playing fields. Maybe he had a few glasses of wine too, because he gives in. He leans in and, something like an uncle at the Christmas party who’s the big wig of the family, the scary dominant success, the one who, when he says something, you’re kinda scared, but you listen to every word. When he says something to you, he whispers and would probably deny he said it should you ever bring it up next time. In his formal manner and short, but well thought-out phrasing, he gives me the respect that I somehow oddly long for.

“As you should,” he says.

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