I think the color of pantyhose I used to wear was actually called “suntan.” Did we think we were fooling anyone? I guess tanning lotions and tanning salons on every corner came about long after panty hose became passe.
And my old pals still chuckle about my early nineties (or fashion ideas left over from the 80’s) brightly colored “power suits.” This one was purple, yes purple. I wore it as a full suit and actually thought I looked like a bad ass. It had large shiny fake gold buttons that looked like earrings. And I may have worn the earrings to match but I’ve blurred that out of my memory for good reason.
What’s even more hilarious is that I thought these suits made me look older so I could run with the big dogs in the ad biz as a junior account executive at age 23. I so desperately wanted to be accepted and climb that ladder, fast. I even drank Jack and Coke a few times and pretended that I liked it. And I acted like the cigarette smoke filling the building didn’t bother me either.
Last week at a client meeting I was reminded of all of this. My client’s young, chirpy, quick- to-answer-with-a-better-answer assistant was in the meeting, taking notes on every word I said (yikes). She’s freshly a year or two out of college and smart as a whip. She really did have terrific ideas for our campaign brainstorming session — trying so hard to prove herself that I tried not to be annoyed. Was I secretly a little jealous that she got to be the young perky one now?
Toward the end of the meeting I made some kind of old school reference and then realized she probably didn’t know what I meant. I corrected myself with the newer term and made a mention of her youth and how I was showing my age. She quickly corrected me and told me that she wasn’t that young.
I immediately recalled that feeling of irritation she was experiencing and I tried to explain. My client and I giggled as we recalled just how much we missed being the young one in the room and being the target of those “you’re too young to know” comments. And I really do. Especially now that no one checks my ID no matter how desperately I try to signal to them that they should. She just looked at us and smiled, letting us think we were funny.
She’ll probably be in a modern day, corporate casual version of my purple power suit at the next meeting when I see her, sans the suntan hose. Maybe a purple cardigan and tangerine skinny jeans. But I bet she won’t have my fancy, shiny earring buttons.