Friday, April 02, 2010

Avocation

Her work colleagues summoned the courage to confront her at an Intervention Breakfast one Friday morning after the exasperated company president ordered the division to solve the problem once and for all. Margaret Bepler, who now sat at the long conference table drinking coffee and eating half a bagel was the problem, and the solution was simple, really.

Margaret had to stop dressing like a woodland fairy.

At the beginning of the week, when she arrived at the office wearing a kelly green dress with hemp leaf and tulle trim, her colleagues smiled and asked about the joke. “Joke?” She frowned. “I don't know a single one.” She turned to make the morning's phone calls, leaving the others quite perplexed, though none felt they wanted to be the one to remind her of the company's dress code.

The second day, all conversation ceased when Margaret stepped off the elevator wearing an olive colored skirt overlaid with multiple layers of brown netting as well as a stretchy bustier laced with neon green ribbon in the back. When her boss took her aside for a private discussion, the others could hear Margaret respond with, “It's not as if I wear wings or a headpiece or even carry a wand.”

The rest of the week brought similar fantasy-inspired fashion to the stodgy office décor. Company officials were reluctant to take the definitive step of firing her. After all, she had accrued a little more than ten years of employment with them, and the excellent reviews collected in her personnel file were a testament to her diligence and performance. They also surmised that the recent death of Margaret's husband after many years of illness accounted for her unhinged good sense of propriety.

But on this last day of the work week, the vice president of the company hoped this intervention would bring a satisfactory resolution. Although Margaret declined his offer of extra vacation days with pay, she did apologize for any distress her wardrobe choices engendered, and thanked all for their concern. He sat in the conference room with the rest of the staff watching as Margaret chewed the last bite of bagel and finished a second cup of freshly brewed coffee. She stood and brushed crumbs from the butterfly applique patch on the apple green velour bodice of her dress.

“I did love all the compliments I received at the company costume party several weeks ago. It's not like I think I'm a real fairy,” she said by way of rational explanation. “I guess it was hard to give up that good feeling.”



As part of the agreement to put this episode to rest, Margaret promised to don the extra set of clothing she kept in the hall closet, and went to her private office to change. A few minutes later, she stepped out wearing a navy pinstriped suit and white blouse that ineluctably personified corporate life in the forest of finance, and nodded at her relieved office mates.

“Back to work, shall we?” Margaret said and turned to reenter her office, giving them all a good look at the inky blue and viridian wired wings that spanned the width of her back.

49 comments:

  1. HA! Maragretn is definitely executive material! Give them what they want! Great story, Marisa. Made me smile at her lack of aplomb.

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  2. I laughed out loud when I got to the cause of the intervention! Great ;)

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  3. "unhinged good sense of propriety"

    I think you should lose the good there!

    Don't tell anyone else, but that's the best #fridayflash I've read in weeks! Epic whimsy!

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  4. Laugh-out-loud funny, I adore this! :)

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  5. Light-hearted and lovely!

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  6. That first sentence is so damn good. It sets up the whole tale economically and with wonderful language "intervention".

    I was touched when you wrote about the affirmation she'd received from the fancy dress party and not wanting to let go of that.

    Wonderful storytelling, superb.

    marc nash

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  7. Perfect smile-producer for my first flash of the week.
    Margaret is such a guileless beauty. I hope the executive world does push her out the door because she deserves better than they can give.
    Like your story, she's a bright light in a dreary world.

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  8. Ah, what a terrific scene. I also laughed out loud at the fairy dresses. If only such things were allowed...

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  9. Where do I begin? How can I tell you how much I loved this? The first graph, setting the tone that works so beautifully through-out, right into all those fantastic details about her clothes.

    Separating this just killer line: "Margaret had to stop dressing like a woodland fairy," forcing the reader to stop on it, take it in, is fine craft.

    I love that she clings at the end, I love that photo (you're always so good with those) and I love this character.

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  10. Great job, Marisa. The final line was perfect and, as Anton noted, 'Epic whimsy!'

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  11. so worth a giggle! Great story :)

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  12. I like Margaret. She may not be a "company woman," but she's my kind of sassy woman. She's gonna fly to the top of the business world.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  13. Pinstriped suit and fairy wings....have you been peeking in my closet? I laughed out loud when I got to "Margaret had to stop dressing like a woodland fairy"

    Really enjoyed this light lovely rendering.

    :0)

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  14. The business environment would be better off if people could dress like woodland faeries. Good story!

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  15. I like Margaret very much. I wish there were more people in the world who dressed like woodland fairies.

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  16. Beautiful - fairy fight club! Corporate life would be so much more fun.

    Margaret is many shades of wonderful.

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  17. Beautiful! Now she's dressing as a corporate fairy...
    Loved this, Marisa!

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  18. This was hilarious. It really gives me the urge to dig out those fairy wings in my closet. Great fun!

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  19. The "forest of finance" is a strange place. Great ending with the wings matching her blue power-suit.

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  20. That's so funny. I love the way she complies, has an explanation then sticks it to them with the wings on her back. Every company needs a Margaret!

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  21. You show 'em, Marisa! I only wish this was autobiographical. Never let them take it away from you, whatever your version of wings are.

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  22. Ha! Good for her! I hate corporate dress code. Who's going to see you, anyway?

    Just one small suggestion... In the sentence "Margaret Bepler, who now sat at the long conference table drinking coffee and eating half a bagel was the problem, and the solution was simple, really." I'd suggest a comma after bagel to close the phrase that starts with "who now."

    Other than that, I loved it!

    Cecilia

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  23. Oh, very cool, indeed. I liked it.

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  24. OMG, I love this story! Delightful.

    Years ago, the company I was working for decided to crack the whip on the company hosiery policy. There was no way on earth I'd be caught dead in a pair of pantyhose, and I wasn't about to give up my skirts for pants, so I started improvising. One day I wore a pink silk skirt and blouse with a pair of rainbow-striped toe socks. The next day I showed up in an olive green skirt and hot pink fishnets. Though I was technically in compliance the powers-that-be were not amused.

    They did, however, repeal the hosiery policy. I felt vindicated.

    Love the blog!
    Tawna

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  25. I love it! Totally fun and whimsical.

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  26. Uhm, how did you know? *races to go change clothes*. Loved, Loved, Loved it! I agree with Anton the "unhinged good sense of propriety" line was a classic. Nice Work.

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  27. Your story made me smile all the way through. Thank you!

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  28. Thank you all for your very wonderful comments. You are a very supportive and lovely group of writers. I appreciate you all. :)

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  29. A fabulous Saturday morning read!
    Love how she gave them the finger - well, the wing - at the end.
    The reveal on what was causing the colleagues' consternation was really well done

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  30. I really liked this, a tale of ordinary magic. We need more fairies in the workplace.

    And a lot less ogres...

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  31. "...corporate life in the forest of finance..."

    Ah, so not "woodland", but "forest".

    A fun read. A light touch throughout.

    Nicely done.

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  32. The sad reality is that I work in an office where I could totally see this happening. Wonderful story with a great ending.

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  33. When Margaret finds a place that appreciates the way she dresses, that's where I want to go. Her current employers can stick it.

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  34. >“Joke?” She frowned. “I don't know a single one.”<

    -I love that. Cathy summed it up: "guileless beauty"

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  35. Ha! That was cute! Love the wings.

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  36. Anonymous10:05 AM

    What a great story. Hope there is more. LOL My daughter and I had a great time reading it on this Easter Morning. :D

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  37. LOL! That was utterly delightful! I hate dress codes - good for her! You wrote this with just the right dash of whimsy and reality. I just LOVED it and it made me smile. So many great lines in this story!!!

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  38. Right to the end with the wings. I love this and thanks.

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  39. LOL LOL LOL!

    Fantastic story Mari-girl! I did laugh out loud both on the revealing of the problem, and on the solution Margareth found for it!

    Also, the story's content is really touching. Behind the amusement there's the tale of a woman who lost too much, and is having a hard time to cope with it. There's also the feeling of freedom maybe?

    You've put many layers in a light and well written story. Kudos! :D

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  40. I LOVE a rebel - go, Margaret!! Great story - was trying to work out how it was going to end, but it still managed to take me totally by surprise. Brilliant!

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  41. *snort laughter* - loved the ending! Gotta love that character!

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  42. Well I'm late, but couldn't pass up commenting on this one. Fantastic, imaginative story Marisa!
    You wouldn't believe how close to home this is for me. I once worked as an event coordinator for a restaurant chain and planned a theme day for each Saturday. I'll have to dig out the photos of me in those outfits and post them sometime. The all-time favorite was St. Patrick's Day one year - I was so decked out in green, even wearing false green eyelashes that my boss deemed me "the epitome of Irishism".
    Thanks for a fun read and trip down memory lane!

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