I walked out onto a wet Madison Avenue.
It was still raining. I was without an umbrella. I was so disturbed about my failed typing test that I didn't care. I walked without direction. I knew the city but not well enough to be purposeful.
The rain splashed up onto the backs of my legs. My hose were getting ruined. My feet hurt in my new pumps and I knew already that I would never wear them again. I stopped at the first corner and looked at the backs of my calves. They were dotted with sooty spots. My hair was growing fuller and frizzier by the minute and my new suit was becoming darker with each drop. I didn't care. I had been dreaming of this day for much of my life, and I honestly didn't know if I would be capable of passing the test. 50 words a minute. Five mistakes. Five mistakes. 50 words a minute Five mistakes. I though of nothing else.
At the time, Conde Nast was housed in a grand brick building on Madison avenue between 44th and 45th streets. I wandered north and then west over to fifth avenue and then continued to Sixth. I stumbled upon a La Fondue restaurant. La fondu held a fond memory for me of a funny visit to Manhattan shared with my two dearest friends from Smith. Eda and Wendy and I had come into the city to run around for a day and we had lunch at La Fondue. La fondu aptly serves fondu and fondu is served in little pots that have either very hot cheese in them or hot oil. The cheese is for the dipping of bread and the oil is for the cooking of meats. The waitresses walk quickly through the narrow aisles saying hot oil, hot oil with heavy french accents and we found this unremarkable thing so funny. For months we mimicked them and cracked up as if we were actually amusing. Hot oil, hot oil.....it was just one of those things that stuck. I went in. I had some French onion soup. I thought of Wendy and Eda and tried to feel some sense of levity but I was numb with misery. Ms Slavin had told me to come back when I was ready. I was not yet ready. I felt terrible in fact. I stumbled out and back over to Fifth avenue. Having gone a bit north, I found myself facing St. Patrick's cathedral. In the movie version perhaps the music would change or maybe the rain would suddenly stop and the sun would break free . Nothing dramatic happened. I was just desperate. I climbed the wide grey steps of the cathedral. I was not a catholic but you can bet I put my fingers in the holy water, I made the sign of the cross, I bowed before kneeling. I placed my lips over my clasped hands, and prayed. " Dear God, please, please let me pass this typing test. Please let me do it right. I want to work at Conde Nast so badly. Please. I feel I have been good. I have worked so hard. I don't want to work any where else. Just please let me pass this typing test." Amen.
I walked back. By now I looked rather like a heavy metal singer. My hair was outrageously undone, my hose were mottled and I didn't care. I marched thought the revolving door, I went up to the 8th floor, I sat in the pristine white waiting room, and Ms Slavin came out.
"Are you ready", she queried. I looked straight at her, "yes." "Yes I am", I said. I sat down, She handed me the copy and blessedly it was the same copy I'd had earlier. I lifted my wrists, turned my head left to read and turning on the timer, she said, " Begin". 52 words. 4 mistakes She smiled. I smiled. I was invited back for an interview.
To be continued.