Every week, my department had a meeting. The most important people were assigned prominent seats, with the cushy armrests, the rest of us got what was left.
I happened to be late and got the only seat left, which stuck out a bit toward the center of the room, which made me more of a focus than others. Or maybe it just felt that way. Anyway, people came to these meetings dressed impeccably. I don’t know why, they just did.
I’d dressed that morning in the dark, because my husband was still sleeping. I threw on a favorite pair of heels, one of two pair I’d bought, and because I couldn’t decide which color I liked best, I’d bought both the dark blue and maroon versions.
Fast forward to the meeting, where I found myself in a seat, sticking out toward the center of the discussion circle. A few minutes into the meeting, people started giving me odd looks. Was a zipper unzipped? Did I have spilled coffee sloshed all over the front of my skirt? Did I have donut on my face? A bugger hanging out of my nose? I checked each possibility, as nonchalantly as possible, and came up a big negative.
It was my turn to speak. Fortunately, I didn’t have to stand. I kept it short, because I swear, people were grinning at me. What was going on?!
The miserable, interminable-seeming meeting ended. I scurried out of the room and into the bathroom to give myself a thorough checking-over. My eyes stopped cold, as I stared at my shoes. In the darkness of the morning, getting dressed, I’d slipped on one maroon and one dark blue heel. It could have been worse, I told myself. I could have forgotten to put my skirt on.
I don’t dress in the dark anymore. But, if I have to, I make sure to check myself out in the light of day before parading into a meeting. And I come early. That way, if I do happen to have some sort of wardrobe malfunction, I’ll at least get a seat in the back row, where nobody will notice, anyway.
©Janet Mitchell, November 2011