I took a job for the government. I won’t say which part. It was basically a typing pool, data entry. At peak season there would be over a thousand of us working there. 97% of the workers were women and the men that were there were there for a reason. Like, morbid obesity, autism, or perhaps an odd skin disease.
I remember there was one kind of normal guy. He owned his own business and just worked there for the insurance. He was nothing to look at. You wouldn’t give him a second glance in any other situation but where we worked he might as well have been an early ’90’s Brad Pitt. Any woman with a little bit of hope left would find reasons to talk to him and flirt shamelessly.
Most of us had no hope left, however, and so we just got doutier and doutier. I never even wore mascara anymore, and lip gloss? Girl, please. I barely brushed my hair. I always had a pony tail. I took showers the night before and let my hair dry as it wanted.
It was a weird little world that I and my fellow coworkers had made for ourselves. It started to fell like putting on makeup, or wearing a nice shirt would be wrong somehow, like showing off. I more than once had the thought “I can’t wear that to work. It’s too nice.” I didn’t want people to think I was full of myself.
I mean to tell you that women would come to work in their pajamas, carrying their blankets and wrap up in them while they worked, draping the blankets over their heads. I never thought I would leave the house in sweatpants but working there I did.
I would literally go to work in sweatpants all day but then if I had to stop at the store afterwards, I would go and change into real pants so that no one outside of my job would see me. The job had a large connected parking garage and my house had a garage, so I really could go days at a time without feeling the wind in my hair or the sun on my face. No wonder I got depressed working there.
For all intents and purposes it was a society without men. The result was a lot of women with no incentive to look attractive, no need to work out, no need to compete with each other. (Except for the women competing for Nick’s attention, I guess.) I imagine that it was comparable to one of those huts where some tribes send their women to menstruate.
I say all this to paint a picture of how little I cared what I looked like the whole time I worked there. That was nine years. That was my twenties and I wasted it trying not to look good and succeeding with zest.
So here I am now in my thirties. I still work for the government but thankfully in a different department. I still work with mostly women but it’s more like 12 women and 2 men, instead of 1,459 women and six weird dudes. Plus, members of the public come in sometimes. So I’ve started dressing myself nicely again and wearing makeup.
I just think it’s interesting how much the absence or presence of the opposite sex seems to make. I am married. I’ve been married this whole time. I’m not looking for a man but if I see one, he better damn well think I look cute. I still believe that women mostly dress for each other. Most heterosexual men aren’t going to be impressed with who designed your handbag. Still, the fact remains, we were a world of practically 100% females and we were definetly not trying to impress each other.
There were a handful of women who tried to look cute. They wore dresses and high heels and curled their hair, or straightened it. They were the exception though. The lone Blairs in a world full of Jos. (I’m aging myself but in my defense, I really only watched “The Facts of Life” in reruns on weekday afternoons in the summer. It was awesome. I recommend it to anyone who didn’t get my clever Blair/Jo reference. Although I haven’t seen it in a while it might not hold up.