Blue skies are coming. If you’re brave enough to say goodbye,
life will reward you with a hello.
About this time, I learned about a job opening at the Broadway Department Store on
Wilshire Boulevard that seemed custom-made for my artistic eyes and interests; one that
involved fashion and display work. I applied and was hired.
It was a dream job. I was placed in charge of the store’s display windows, floor
displays in the women’s clothing department, and fashion shows. When anyone says, “I
started at the bottom,” I can echo the statement. I literally did. In the basement of the
store. This was where my office was located in order to be near the storage areas for
manikins and other display necessities. There, I poured over Women’s Wear Daily,
Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar issues from cover to cover, only a few of the monthly
fashion journals that arrived on my desk.
Unexpectedly, I was given complete freedom to do whatever I deemed best. I put on
seasonal fashion shows and created Parisian-styled scenes using the store’s fabrics and
whatever else would make the windows and floors attention-getting. The purpose was
always to bring buyers into the store and keep them there long enough to make purchases.
The props and set designers were the real champions. We had fun and games in the
basement, including the feeding of a few stray dogs brought in from the streets, popping
popcorn on an iron, and making the sales people search for a particular creation that
didn’t exist until it was designed on the mannequin.
I sensed that Management was grooming me to move up the corporate ladder. I was
summoned to the men’s department to meet with manger Charles Crystal about
incorporating men’s fashion into the window displays and using my “magic” on in-
department presentation of new arrivals. Over the next month, it seemed that I was
making an increasing number of ‘necessary’ visits to confer with Charles ‘unnecessarily.’
Most of our sessions were spent in chatting about inconsequential things having little to
do with fashion or window dressing.
Charles and I started to see each other regularly during and then after work. At first,
it was his flirting and complements that lured me into his web. Then, as we came to know
each other better, it was his underlying pathos. Charles had lost both of his parents at a
young age, and his mournful and poignant persona begged for my consolation. His
penetrating dark eyes were in direct contrast to his pale skin, and he seemed almost
fragile. My heart melted. I felt sorry for him.
Our lunch dates increased to almost daily occurrences. It seemed natural that we’d
have dinner together, at least on weekends. I couldn’t help noticing that Charles was
generous to a fault when it came to tipping our waiter. Although he wasn’t a man of
financial means, he would greet me with a pie, a fancy desert or cookies whenever he
picked me up in my apartment. Yes. Sugar-filled, irresistible sweets. Since they were my
weakness, I was impressed by this uncommonly kind gesture.
Charles was the complete opposite of Alan. He actually thought I was perfect the
way I was. He didn’t try to change one thing about me. He didn’t judge my appearance,
my clothes, hair, makeup or weight. For the first time, I was accepted exactly the way I
was by a suitor. Lucky me.
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