I’ll admit from the outset that I never was a conventional woman. Even as I child, I was not one to play with dolls or dress up in high heels with my mother’s lipstick smeared all over my face. From an early age, I knew that I was going to be a lawyer – a tough, no-nonsense, and successful lawyer.
I argued every point with everyone. Even I knew some of those points were weak or moot, but I argued them, anyway. Admittedly, it cost me a few friends along the way. More importantly, it prepared me to take first place in every debate I entered in both high school and college. It taught me to speak extemporaneously. It taught me to think on my feet. That, in turn, enabled me to talk my way into law school.
Once there, I was able to hold my own against the males, who thought women had no business in law. Actually, I did better than hold my own. I left them in the dust as I worked my way to a perfect 4.0 grade point average.
I won’t tell you where I went to law school. Suffice it to say that it had a big name, big enough so that, with my high grades and a year as editor of the law review, I emerged with a clerkship in the noted Washington firm of Pemberton, McCardle, and Kane. You, no doubt, remember Senators Pemberton and McCardle and former Vice President Winston Kane.
My sister insists that Washington and I were well suited to one another. After all, we both were down and dirty. My sister never did have anything nice to say about me, but you know what they say: Nice guys finish last. So do nice girls. I did not intend to finish last, not even in second place.
I arrived in DC on a cool, rainy day in late-June. It was one of those years when it seemed that summertime never would arrive. The temperature had not risen above fifty-five degrees all year. Still, the central boiler was providing steam to the radiators in the quaint apartment I rented in one of the old buildings that line Connecticut Avenue.
The walls were painted antique white, the floors were hardwood and recently refinished. The small kitchen had been refurbished, as well, with new pecan cabinets and stainless steel appliances. It never had occurred to me that the apartment had lost its charm when the old aluminum-edged Formica countertops and authentic linoleum flooring had been removed. Those things did not bother me. I was a Washington lawyer!
After leaving my luggage, I drove to Woodies at 12th and G Streets. Using my new-graduate’s credit card, I picked out furniture for my new apartment. Over the next few days, I shopped in Georgetown for paintings to on my walls and bowls and vases to display on my new tables.
The next day, I went to Filene’s Basement and bought career suits at not-quite-discount prices. They bore designer labels but had small flaws. I made certain those flaws were not visible. I also bought shoes and purses to go with my suits. Through it all, I spared no expense. I was a Washington lawyer!
I did not have to buy a briefcase; my ex-boyfriend had given me one for graduation. Yes, ex-boyfriend. More about him, later.
On my way home, I stopped off to have my nails done and my brows waxed. I wouldn’t worry about my hair; I would pin it up, which I always did, anyway. Next door was a sidewalk vendor. I stopped and bought a dozen roses to display in the vase I had bought for the hall table. My last stop was at McDonald’s to pick up something to eat for dinner. I would have to remember to go to the grocery store the next day. After all, work would begin the day after that, and I wouldn’t have time for such domestic matters. After all, I was a Washington lawyer.
“You’re being a fool!” my sister told me. Yes, the sister who never had had a nice word to say about me. “Spending money before you report for work and complete the tax papers is asking for trouble.”
“Nothing will go wrong,” I retorted and hung up.
TO BE CONTINUED
Copyright (c) 2008, Virginia Tolles, All Rights Reserved