Recognizing a great mentor.
“Do you know the toothpaste trick?”
Her car’s engine purred. I heard the question. But my brain was too busy taking in new car smell doing battle with floral body spray and the lemon scented cardboard sunflower hanging from the radio dial. God. Even the seatbelt was perfect. Like her. She was perfect. And overwhelming. What was I doing in this car? Why’d I say yes?
“Hey, let’s do lunch. I have to run by my apartment and get some dry cleaning. We can get back here in time to grab something at the food court.”
My new boss. Here at my new employer, Brooks Fashions. Located between Country Candles and Spencer’s. In a mall barely two years old on the outskirts of what I thought was a metropolis. It was just LaSalle-Peru.
She’d caught me in the backroom unboxing the latest in Brooks’ idea of fashion in 1981. Everything looked like David Bowie had fashion sex with Debbie Harry. Why was she asking me to lunch? “Sure.”
“Great!” She spun on perfect height heels shifting perfect length skirt that had nothing to do with David or Debbie’s fashion relationship. She looked like a person who wanted to run the company. She was wearing a long jacket. I looked down at myself. I looked like a person that wanted to run. Away. I had no opinions about fashion. Stevie Nicks’ Edge of Seventeen filled the store with foreboding angst in the key of C.
The engine hummed into a higher gear, I sank into a bucket seat and watched her reach into her fashionable purse stuffed with fashionable unfathomable things. She pulled out a tube of Crest toothpaste. And came up onto a line of traffic waiting for a red light. I came out of of the bucket seat a bit.
She turned to me all teeth and trend. “See, if you feel like you need a fresh mouth, you just squeeze out a little bit and lick it off!” She proceeded to demonstrate the idea. “Then you roll it around your mouth.” She smiled. To prove she’d done all that. Did she just swallow toothpaste? God. This light is long.
She handed the tube to me. “Here, have some! See what I mean.”