Lunch at Hemingsway is going very well. I’ve kept the VIP entertained with my anecdotes, and he seems quite taken with me. Laughter is clearly the shortest distance between two people.
“You must come to my house this weekend; I’m having some guests over,” he says. “You’re both invited.”
I look over at Mr N who nods enthusiastically. The VIP looks at me expectantly.
“I’d be delighted,” I respond.
“That went very well,” Mr N says to me after we are done with lunch and have said our goodbyes.
“Did it?” I ask. “An invite to his house?”
“Yes. Just make sure you don’t leave,” he says with a laugh.
“His family won’t be there?” I ask.
Mr N shrugs. “You’d be surprised what women put up with when their husbands are rich and powerful.”
What does that mean exactly? His wife will look the other way in her own home? A more likely scenario is my being attacked with a broomstick! Ain’t nobody got time for that!
The week flies by quickly and I nervously count down the days to the party. I manage to successfully avoid Eric, Frank and GG as I try to get into the zone. I dress very carefully for the VIP’s party, choosing an elegant dress as opposed to something sexy. Understated, classy, decent. Mr N and I drive in together. Yes, I look like I belong. Everyone seems friendly enough, except for the VIP’s wife. She sneers at me from a mile away.
“This is Samantha,” Mr N says as he kisses her on the cheek.
“Where is your wife?” she shoots back giving me a dirty look.
“She could not make it,” Mr N says with a charming smile. “This is a business acquaintance, be nice.”
His tone is boyish and playful. The VIP’s wife clearly has a soft spot for him and looks at him fondly.
“Why don’t you join us Samantha?” she asks, much friendly than before, pointing towards a group of women.
“Thanks, but I’d much rather sit with the men,” I respond. “Just a few business matters to discuss.”
Her look is venomous. I don’t care. There’s no way in hell I’m going to sit with a bunch of women talking about their child’s latest accomplishment in school and exchanging recipes. That’s not why I’m here.
Mr N and I go and join the men, an amused look on his face.
“You could’ve sat with them for a little bit,” he says.
“No way. I’ve never understood the segregation that takes place in these parties, is so archaic!” I complain.
Women 'knowing their place' is still alive and well in 2016? How ridiculous! I join the men who seem quite happy to have some female companionship. None of them look surprised that I’m sitting with them. I think I’m beginning to understand how this works. You can join them if you’re a woman, so long as you are not married to any of them.
I go to the ladies room periodically and get murderous looks from the wives who must be bored out of their minds engaging in meaningless small talk. The guys are so much more interesting; I’m beginning to believe that being married is for all intents and purposes a ball and chain. On my third bathroom run I decide to attempt to be friendly.
“Hi, I’m Samantha,” I say making my way round the group, shaking their hands. They exchange looks; clearly I have been the subject of conversation.
“How long have you worked with Mr N?” one of them asks.
“Just this year,” I say breezily. “He is a very good boss.”
“And does your boss know that you like to mix business with pleasure?” the VIP’s wife asks.
“If this is what you consider pleasure, you really must get out more,” I say with a sardonic smile.