In the Middle of Summer, 1928
Tamara de Lempicka

A Woman of Appetites

by Mary Elizabeth Thompson

I know it doesn’t matter how well I dress, how carefully I apply my make-up, or how demurely I carry myself: when others look at me, they see only my size, and my size is substantial. I am the first to admit I have appetites. Hungers. Just like anyone else. I am only human, after all.

But it has always seemed to me that others hide and deny their hungers, particularly the thinner women with whom I work. I brown-bag a bowl of pasta, vegetables, broiled steak, and a hunk of French bread, and wash it down with a decaf latte from the coffee shop on the corner. How can they have a few lettuce leaves and a Diet Coke, and proclaim themselves stuffed? They are pale and pasty, with bones like birds. I imagine they would break under a man's touch, be crushed under his weight.

I know I am not fragile.

And I have needs, like any other woman. I need love and romance as much as if not more than any of them, but I don’t swoon at the sound of a man's name, blush when he smiles, or giggle like a schoolgirl at the thought of going out somewhere with him.

They are amateurs.

I have a plan.

When Ted arrived in the office—a tall, gorgeous, hunk—he was embarrassed by the attention the single women—and a few of the married ones—gave him. Even Barbara, our office supervisor, batted her eyelashes when he spoke. I simply put my plan in motion.

Monday morning: phase one. I wore black slacks and a royal-purple V-neck sweater. I kept my make-up subtle, and wore a hint of White Musk. The only change in my routine was to offer him a cup of coffee while I poured one for myself. He accepted it with a smile, seemingly flattered. I wondered if any of the bird-boned women in his previous offices had ever treated him like a man rather than a fantasy. Then I returned to work.

Tuesday afternoon: phase two. That day, I wore a matte gold and red top over a rich brown skirt. I stopped at his desk to keep him apprised of a case he'd worked on before it made the rounds and landed on my desk. I felt the other women watching in wonderment, as if I had some rare bravery that allowed me to speak with the god in their midst. Phase two completed, I went back to my cubicle.

Wednesday lunch: phase three. I wore the color of the summer sky at dusk. Ted smiled broadly when he saw me in the cafeteria, and asked if he could sit at my table. Of course, I allowed it, and offered him half my Almond Joy. He seemed to love the attention I gave him. He laughed at my jokes, and I laughed at his. After lunch, we went our separate ways, back to work.

Thursday quitting time: phase four. By stopping Ted in the corridor and asking several questions about the case we'd discussed on Tuesday, I boarded the elevator with him. We were alone. I asked him to dinner Friday, my treat. He blushed with surprise and accepted.

Friday evening: fifth and final phase. We met at Chez Claude. After dinner, we went to my apartment, where we had more wine and made love for hours. He said he adored how uninhibited I was, walking about the bedroom nude, not hiding my beauty as if I were ashamed of it. He left by cab in the wee hours.

Saturday, I didn't call him.

Sunday, he called me.

Monday morning, I watched the bird-boned women blush and giggle when Ted stepped out of the elevator carrying two coffees, but their chins hit the floor when he headed straight for my desk. He brought me a latte from the coffee shop and asked if he could see me that evening.

Politely, I declined, and absorbed the envy of the women who tried to appear nonchalant as they crowded around my cubicle to eavesdrop.

I knew Ted would get over me in time.

Meanwhile, David, the new guy in marketing arrived. He preferred tea.

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