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The Devil Wears Prada[时尚女魔头]-chapter10

[日期:2007-07-30]   [字体: ]
“Hey, I’m glad I caught you,” I heard Cara say on the other end of the line. Why was she out of breath at quarter of eight in the morning?


 “Uh-oh. You never call this early. What’s wrong?” In the split second it took me to say those words, a half-dozen scenarios of what Miranda could need raced through my mind.


 “No, no, it’s nothing like that. I just wanted to warn you that B-DAD is on his way in to see you, and he’s particularly chatty this morning.”


 “Oh, well, that’s sure GREat news. It’s been, what, nearly a week since he’s interrogated me about every aspect of my life? I was wondering where my biggest fan had gone.” I finished typing my memo and hit “print.”


 “You’re a lucky girl, I have to say. He’s lost interest in me entirely,” she pined dramatically. “He only has eyes for you. I heard him say that he was coming over to discuss details of the Met party with you.”


 GREat, that’s just great. I can’t wait to meet this brother of his. So far I’ve just spoken to him on the phone, but he sounds like a total schmuck. So, you’re sure he’s on his way, or is it possible there’s a kind spirit up above who just may spare me that particular misery today?”


 “Nope, not today. He’s definitely on his way. Miranda has a podiatrist appointment at eight-thirtyA .M., so I don’t think she’ll be coming with him.”


 I checked the appointment book on Emily’s desk quickly and confirmed her appointments. A Miranda-free morning was indeed on the schedule. “Fantastic. I couldn’t think of anyone dreamier to do a little early-morning bonding with than B-DAD himself. Why does he talk so much?”


 “Can’t answer that other than to point out the obvious: he married her, so he’s clearly not all there. Call if he says anything particularly ridiculous. I have to run. Caroline just smashed one of Miranda’s Stila lipsticks into the bathroom mirror for no apparent reason.”


 “Our lives rock, don’t they? We’re the coolest girls. Anyway, thanks for the heads up. Talk to you later.”


 “OK, ’bye.”


 I glanced over the memo while I waited for B-DAD’s arrival. It was a request to the board of trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from Miranda. She was asking permission to throw a dinner party in one of the galleries in March for her brother-in-law, a man I could tell she absolutely despised but who was, unfortunately, family. Jack Tomlinson was B-DAD’s younger and wilder brother, and he’d just announced he was leaving his wife and three children and marrying his masseuse. Although he and B-DAD were both quintessential East Coast prep school aristocracy, Jack had shed his Harvard persona in his late twenties and moved to South Carolina, where he’d immediately made a fortune in real estate. Judging from everything Emily had told me, he’d morphed into a first-class Southern boy, a real straw-chewin’, tobacco-spittin’ hick, which of course appalled Miranda, the epitome of class and sophistication. B-DAD had asked Miranda to organize an engagement party for his baby brother, and Miranda, blinded by love, had no choice but to oblige. And if she had to do something, then she sure as hell was going to do it right. And right was at the Met.


 Dear Honored Members, blah, blah, blah, would like to request permission to host a fabulous little soiree, blah, blah, blah, will be hiring only the finest caterers, florists, and band, of course, blah, blah, blah, would welcome your input, blah, blah. Making sure one last time that there were no glaring errors, I quickly forged her name and called for a messenger to come pick it up.


 The knock on the office suite door—which I kept closed this early in the morning since no one was in yet anyway—came almost immediately, and I was impressed with their turnaround time, but the door swung open to reveal B-DAD, who was sporting a grin much too enthusiastic for pre-eightA.M .


 “Andrea,” he sang, immediately walking over to my desk and smiling so genuinely it made me feel guilty for not liking him.


 “Good morning, Mr. Tomlinson. What brings you here so early?” I asked. “I’m sorry to tell you that Miranda’s not in yet.”


 He chuckled, his nose twitching like a rodent’s. “Yes, yes, she won’t be in until after lunch, or so I believe. Andy, it really has been too long since you and I caught up. Tell Mr. T. now: How is everything?”


 “Here, let me take those,” I said, pulling the monogrammed duffel full of Miranda’s dirty clothes that she’d given him to give to me. I also relieved him of the beaded Fendi tote bag that had surfaced again recently. It was a one-of-a-kind tote that had been hand-beaded in an elaborate crystal design just for Miranda from Silvia Venturini Fendi, as a thank-you for all of her support, and one of the fashion assistants had put its value at just under ten grand. But I noticed today that one of the skinny leather handles had broken loose yet again, even though the accessories department had returned it to Fendi for hand-stitching two dozen times already. It was intended to hold a delicate ladies’ wallet, perhaps accompanied by a pair of sunglasses or maybe, if absolutely necessary, a small Cell Phone. Miranda didn’t really care about that. She had currently crammed in an extra-large bottle of Bulgari perfume, a sandal with a broken heel that I was probably supposed to get fixed, the blotter-size Hermès daily planner that weighed more than an entire laptop, an oversize spiked dog collar that I thought either belonged to Madelaine or was for an upcoming fashion shoot, and the Book I had delivered to her the night before. I would have hocked a bag worth ten thousand dollars and paid my rent for a year, but Miranda preferred to use it as a trash receptacle.


 “Thank you, Andy. You really are a big help to everyone. So Mr. T. would sure like to hear more about your life. What’s going on?”


 What’s going on?What’s going on?Hmm, well, let’s see here. Really not all that much, I suppose. I spend most of my time trying to survive my term of indentured servitude with your sadistic wife. If there are ever any free minutes during the workday when she’s not making some belittling demand, then I’m trying to block out the brainwash drivel that’s spoon-fed to me by her assistant in chief. On the increasingly rare occasions that I find myself outside the confines of this magazine, I’m usually trying to convince myself that it really is OK to eat more than eight hundred calories a day and that being a size six does not put me in the plus-size category. So I guess the short answer is, not much.


 “Well, Mr. Tomlinson, not too much. I work a lot. And I guess when I’m not working I hang out with my best friend, or my boyfriend. Try to see my family.”I used to read a lot, I wanted to say,but I’m too tired now. And sports have always been a pretty big part of my life, but there wasn’t time anymore.


 “So, you’re twenty-five, right?” He non-sequitured. I couldn’t even imagine where he was going with this one.


 “Uh, no, I’m twenty-three. I only graduated last May.”


 “Ah-hah! Twenty-three, huh?” He looked like he was trying to decide whether to say something or not. I braced myself. “So tell Mr. T., what do twenty-three-year-olds do in this city for fun? Restaurants? Clubs? That sort of thing?” He smiled again, and I wondered if he really needed the attention as much as he appeared to: there was nothing sinister behind his interest, just a seemingly driving need totalk .


 “Um, well, all sorts of things, I guess. I don’t really go to clubs, but bars and lounges and places like that. Go out for dinner, see movies.”


 “Well, that sounds like a lot of fun. Used to do that kind of stuff, too, when I was your age. Now it’s just a lot of work events and fund-raisers. Enjoy it while you can, Andy.” He winked like a dorky father would.


 “Yeah, well, I’m trying,” I managed.Please leave, please leave, please leave, I willed, staring longingly at the bagel that was just calling my name. I get three minutes of peace and quiet a day, and this man was stealing all of it.


 He opened his mouth to say something, but the doors swung open and Emily stomped in. She was wearing her headphones and moving to the music. I watched her mouth drop open when she saw him standing there.


 “Mr. Tomlinson!” she exclaimed, yanking off her headphones and tossing her iPod in her Gucci tote. “Is everything OK? Nothing’s wrong with Miranda, is it?” She looked and sounded genuinely concerned. An A-plus performance: always the perfectly attentive, unfailingly polite assistant.


 “Hello there, Emily. Nothing wrong at all. Miranda will be here shortly. Mr. T. just came by to drop off her things. How are you doing today?”


 Emily beamed. I wondered if she actually enjoyed his presence. “Just fine. Thanks so much for asking. And you? Did Andrea help you with everything?”


 “Oh, she sure did,” he said, throwing smile number 6,000 in my direction. “I wanted to go over a few things about my brother’s engagement party, but I realize that it’s probably a little early for that, right?”


 For a moment I thought he meant too early in the morning and I almost shouted “Yes!” but then I realized that he meant it was too early in the planning to discuss details.


 He turned back to Emily and said, “You’ve got yourself a GREat junior assistant here, don’t you think?”


 “Absolutely,” Emily managed through clenched teeth. “She’s the best.” She grinned.


 I grinned.


 Mr. Tomlinson grinned with extra wattage, and I wondered if he had a chemical imbalance, perhaps hypomania.


 “Well, Mr. T. had better be on his way. It’s always lovely chatting with you girls. Have a nice morning, both of you. Good-bye now.”


 “’Bye, Mr. Tomlinson!” Emily called as he rounded the corner in the hallway on his way to reception.


 “Why were you so rude to him?” she asked as she pulled the flimsy leather blazer off, only to reveal a flimsier chiffon scoop-neck that was laced all the way up the front like a corset.


 “So rude? I helped him unload her stuff and I talked to him before you got here. How is that rude?”


 “Well, you didn’t say good-bye, for one thing. And you have that look on your face.”


 “That look?”


 “Yes, that look of yours. The one that tells everyone just how far above this you are, just how much you hate it here. That may fly with me, but it won’t with Mr. Tomlinson. He’s Miranda’shusband , and you just can’t treat him like that.”


 “Em, don’t you think he’s a little, I don’t know . . . weird? He never stops talking. How can he be so nice when she’s such a . . . so not as nice?” I watched as she glanced inside Miranda’s office to make sure that I’d set the newspapers correctly.


 “Weird? Hardly, Andrea. He’s one of the most prominent tax attorneys in Manhattan.”


 It wasn’t worth it. “Never mind, I don’t even know what I’m saying. What’s going on with you? How was your night?”


 “Oh, it was good. I went shopping with Jessica for gifts for her bridesmaids. Everywhere—Scoop, Bergdorf’s, Infinity, everywhere. And I tried on a bunch of stuff to get some idea for Paris, but it’s still really too early.”


 “For Paris? You’re going to Paris? Does that mean you’ll leave me alone with her?” I hadn’t meant to say the last part out loud, but it had slipped.


 Again, a look like I was crazy. “Yes, I’ll be going to Paris with Miranda in October, for the spring ready-to-wear shows. Each year she takes her senior assistant to the spring shows so she can see what it’s really like. I mean, I’ve been to, like, a million at Bryant Park, but the European shows are just different.”


 I did a quick calculation. “In October, as in seven months from now? You were trying on clothes for a trip seven months from now?” I hadn’t meant for it to sound as harsh as it did, and Emily immediately got defensive.


 “Well, yes. I mean, obviously I wasn’t going to buy anything—so many of the styles will have changed by then. But I just wanted to start thinking about it. It’s a really huge deal, you know. Stay in five-star hotels, go to the craziest parties ever. And my god, you get to go to the hottest, most exclusive fashion shows in existence.”


 Emily had already told me that Miranda went to Europe three or four times a year for the fashion shows. She always skipped London, like everyone did, but she went to Milan and Paris in October for spring ready-to-wear, in July for winter couture, and in March for fall ready-to-wear. Sometimes she’d hit resort, but not always. We’d been working like crazy to get Miranda prepared for the shows coming up at the end of the month. I’d wondered briefly why she wasn’t planning on bringing an assistant.


 “So why doesn’t she take you to all of them?” I decided to just go for it, even though the answer was sure to entail a lengthy explanation. I was excited enough that Miranda would be out of the office for two whole weeks (she spent one in Milan and one in Paris) and was giddy at the thought of getting rid of Emily for a week of that. Visions of bacon cheeseburgers and nonprofessionally ripped jeans and flats—oh hell, maybe even sneakers—filled my head. “Why just in October?”


 “Well, it’s not like she doesn’t have help over there. Italian and FrenchRunway always send some of their assistants for Miranda, and most of the time the editors help her themselves. But it’s at spring RTW that she throws a huge party, the annual kick-off party that everyone says is the biggest and best at all the shows, all year long. I’ll only go for the week while she’s in Paris. So obviously she would only trustme to help her there.” Obviously.


 “Mmm, sounds like it’ll be a GREat time. So that means I just hold down the fort here, huh?”


 “Yeah, pretty much. But don’t think that it’ll be a joke. That will probably be the hardest week of all because she needs a lot of assistance when she’s away. She’ll be calling you a lot.”


 “Oh, goody,” I said. She rolled her eyes.


 I slept with my eyes open, staring at a blank computer screen, until the office began to fill up and there were other people to watch. TenA .M. brought the first of the Clackers, the quiet sipping of no-whip skim lattes to nurse the previous night’s champagne hangovers. James stopped by my desk, as he did whenever he saw Miranda wasn’t at hers, and proclaimed he’d met his future husband at Balthazar the night before.


 “He was just sitting at the bar, wearing the GREatest red leather jacket I’d ever seen—and let me tell you, he could pull it off. You should have seen how he slipped those oysters on his tongue . . .” He audibly groaned. “Oh, it was just magnificent.”


 “So’d you get his number?” I asked.


 “Get his number? Try get his pants. He was butt-ass naked on my couch by eleven, and boy, let me tell you—”


 “Lovely, James. Lovely. Not one for playing hard to get, are you? Sounds a little slutty of you, to be honest. This is the age of AIDS, you know.”


 “Sweetie, even you, Miss High and Mighty I-Date-the-World’s-Last-Angel, would’ve been on your knees without a second thought if you saw this guy. He’s absolutely amazing. Amazing!”


 By eleven everyone had checked everyone else out, making notations of who had scored a pair of the new Theory “Max” pants or the latest, impossible-to-find Sevens. Time for a break at noon, when conversation centered around particular items of clothing and usually took place by the racks lined up against the walls. Each morning Jeffy would pull out all the racks of dresses and bathing suits and pants and shirts and coats and shoes and everything else that had been called in as a potential item to shoot for one of the fashion spreads. He lined up each rack against a wall, weaving them throughout the entire floor so the editors could find what they needed without having to fight their way through the Closet itself.


 The Closet wasn’t really a closet at all. It was more like a small auditorium. Along the perimeter were walls of shoes in every size and color and style, a virtual Willy Wonka’s factory for fashionistas, with dozens of slingbacks, stilettos, ballet flats, high-heeled boots, open-toe sandals, beaded heels. Stacked drawers, some built-in and others just shoved in corners, held every imaginable configuration of stockings, socks, bras, panties, slips, camisoles, and corsets. Need a last-minute leopard-print push-up bra from La Perla? Check the Closet. How about a pair of flesh-colored fishnets or those Dior aviators? In the Closet. The accessories shelves and drawers took up the farthest two walls, and the sheer amount of merchandise—not to mention its value—was staggering. Fountain pens. Jewelry. Bed linens. Mufflers and gloves and ski caps. Pajamas. Capes. Shawls. Stationery. Silk flowers. Hats, so many hats. And bags. The bags! There were totes and bowling bags, backpacks and under-arms, over-shoulders and minis, oversize and clutches, envelopes and messengers, each bearing an exclusive label and a price tag of more than the average American’s monthly mortgage payment. And then there were the racks and racks of clothes—pushed so tightly together it was impossible to walk among them—that occupied every remaining inch of space.


 So during the day Jeffy would attempt to make the Closet a semi-usable space where models (and assistants like myself) could try on clothes and actually reach some of the shoes and bags in the back by pushing all of the racks into the halls. I’d yet to see a single visitor to the floor—whether writer or boyfriend or messenger or stylist—not stop dead in his or her tracks and gape at the couture-lined hallways. Sometimes the racks were arranged by shoot (Sydney, Santa Barbara) and other times by item (bikinis, skirt suits), but mostly it just seemed like a haplessly casual mishmash ofreally expensive stuff . And although everyone stopped and stared and fingered the butter-soft cashmeres and the intricately beaded evening gowns, it was the Clackers who hovered possessively over “their” clothes and provided constant, streaming commentary on each and every piece.


 “Maggie Rizer is the only woman in theworld who can actually wear these capris,” Hope, one of the fashion assistants—weighing a whopping 105 pounds and clocking in at six-one—loudly announced outside our office suite while holding the pants in front of her legs and sighing. “They would make my ass look even more gigantic than it already is.”


 “Andrea,” called her friend, a girl I didn’t know very well who worked in accessories, “please tell Hope she’s not fat.”


 “You’re not fat,” I said, my mouth on autopilot. It would’ve saved me many, many hours to have a shirt printed up that said as much, or perhaps to just have the phrase tattooed directly on my forehead. I was constantly called on to assure variousRunway employees that they weren’t fat.


 “Ohmigod, have you seen my gut lately? I’m like the fucking Firestone store, spare tires everywhere. I’m huge!” Fat was on everyone’s minds, if not actually their bodies. Emily swore that her thighs had a “wider circumference than a giant sequoia.” Jessica believed that her “jiggly upper arms” looked like Roseanne Barr’s. Even James complained that his ass had looked so big that morning when he got out of the shower that he’d “contemplated calling in fat to work.”


 In the beginning I’d responded to the myriad am-I-fat questions with what I thought to be an exceedingly rational reply. “If you’re fat, Hope, what does that make me? I’m two inches shorter than you and I weigh more.”


 “Oh, Andy, be serious.I am fat.You’re thin and gorgeous!”


 Naturally I thought she was lying, but I soon came to realize that Hope—along with every other anorexically skinny girl in the office, and most of the guys—was able to accurately evaluate other people’s weight. It was just when it came time to look in the mirror that everyone genuinely saw a wildebeest staring back.


 Of course, as much as I tried to keep it at bay, to remind myself over and over that I was normal and they weren’t, the constant fat comments had made an impression. It’d only been four months I’d been working, but my mind was now skewed enough—not to mention paranoid—that I sometimes thought these comments were directed intentionally to me. As in: I, the tall, gorgeous, svelte fashion assistant, am pretending to think I’m fat just so you, the lumpy, stumpy personal assistant will realize that you are indeed the fat one. At five-ten and 115 pounds (the same weight as when my body was racked with parasites), I’d always considered myself on the thinner side of girls my age. I’d also spent my life until then feeling taller than ninety percent of the women I met, and at least half the guys. Not until starting work at this delusional place did I know what it was like to feel short and fat, all day, every day. I was easily the troll of the group, the squattest and the widest, and I wore a size six. And just in case I failed to consider this for a moment, the daily chitchat and gossip could surely remind me.


 “Dr. Eisenberg said that the Zone only works if you swear off fruit, too, you know,” Jessica added, joining the conversation by plucking a skirt from the Narcisco Rodriguez rack. Newly engaged to one of the youngest vice presidents at Goldman Sachs, Jessica was feeling the pressures of her upcoming society wedding. “And she’s right. I’ve lost at least another ten pounds since my last fitting.” I forgave her for starving herself when she barely had enough body fat to function normally, but I just couldn’t forgive her fortalking about it. I could not, no matter how impressive the doctors’ names were or how many success stories she prattled on about, bring myself tocare .


 At around one the office really picked up pace, because everyone began getting ready for lunch. Not that there was any eating associated with the lunch hour, but it was the prime time of day for guests. I watched lazily as the usual array of stylists, contributors, freelancers, friends, and lovers stopped by to revel in and generally soak up the glamour that naturally accompanied hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of clothes, dozens of gorgeous faces, and what felt like an unlimited amount of really, really, really long legs.


 Jeffy made his way over to me as soon as he could confirm that both Miranda and Emily had left for lunch and handed me two enormous shopping bags.


 “Here, check this stuff out. This should be a pretty good start.”


 I dumped the contents of one bag onto the floor beside my desk and began sorting. There were Joseph pants in camel and charcoal gray, both long and lean and low-waisted, made from an incredibly soft wool. A pair of brown suede Gucci pants looked as though they could turn any schlub into a supermodel, while two pairs of perfectly faded Marc Jacobs jeans looked like they were custom cut for my body. There were eight or nine options for tops, ranging from a skintight ribbed turtleneck sweater by Calvin Klein to a teeny, completely sheer peasant blouse by Donna Karan. A dynamite graphic Diane Von Furstenburg wrap-dress was folded neatly over a navy, velvet Tahari pantsuit. I spotted and immediately fell in love with an all-around pleated Habitual denim skirt that would fall just above my knees and look perfect with the decidedly funky floral-printed Katayone Adelie blazer.


 “These clothes . . . this is all for me?” I asked, hoping I sounded excited and not offended.


 “Yeah, it’s nothing. Just some things that have been lying around the Closet forever. We might have used some of it in shoots, but none of it ever got returned to the companies. Every few months or so I clean out the Closet and give this stuff away, and I figured you, uh, might be interested. You’re a size six, right?”


 I nodded, still dumbfounded.


 “Yeah, I could tell. Most everyone else is a two or smaller, so you’re welcome to all of it.”


 Ouch. “GREat. This is just great. Jeffy, I can’t thank you enough. It’s all amazing!”


 “Check out the second bag,” he said, motioning to where it sat on the floor. “You don’t think you can pull off that velvet suit with that shitty messenger bag you’re always dragging around, do you?”


 The second, even more bulging bag spilled forth a stunning array of shoes, bags, and a couple of coats. There were two pairs of high-heeled Jimmy Choo boots—one ankle- and one knee-length—two pairs of open-toe Manolo stiletto sandals, a pair of classic black Prada pumps, and one pair of Tod loafers, which Jeffy immediately reminded me to never wear to the office. I slung a slouchy red suede bag over my shoulder and immediately saw the two intersecting “C”s carved in the front, but that wasn’t nearly as beautiful as the deep chocolate leather from the Celine tote that I threw on my other arm. A long military-style trench with the signature oversize Marc Jacobs buttons topped it all off.


 “You’re joking,” I said softly, fondling a pair of Dior sunglasses he’d apparently thrown in as an afterthought. “You’ve got to be kidding.”


 He looked pleased with my reaction and ducked his head. “Just do me a favor and wear it, OK? And don’t tell anyone that I gave you first pick on all this stuff, because they live for the Closet clean-outs, you hear?” He bolted from the suite when we heard Emily’s voice call out to someone down the hall, and I shoved my new clothes under my desk.


 Emily came back from the dining room with her usual lunch: an all-natural fruit smoothie and a small to-go container of iceberg lettuce topped with broccoli and balsamic vinegar. Not vinaiGREtte. Vinegar. Miranda would be in any minute—Uri had just called to say he was dropping her off—so I didn’t have my usually luxurious seven minutes to beeline to the soup table and gulp it down back at my desk. The minutes ticked by and I was starving, but I just didn’t have the energy to weave through the Clackers and get examined by the cashier and wonder if I was doing permanent damage by swallowing piping hot (and fattening!) soup so fast that I could feel the heat coursing down my esophagus.Not worth it, I thought.Skipping a single meal won’t kill you, I told myself.In fact, according to every single one of your sane and stable coworkers, it’ll just make you stronger. And besides, $2,000 pants don’t look so hot on girls who gorge themselves, I rationalized. I slumped down in my chair and thought of how well I had just representedRunway magazine.

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