Place: A Chicago alley.
At rise, a fat white-haired woman throws out garbage. She holds her paper bag by its broken handles and wears a work apron over her pants and shirt. Enter a stunning wasp-waisted woman in a black strapless chiffon evening gown.
This happened! The woman in the evening gown was my former colleague from twenty-plus years ago. We stuffed envelopes together behind the Art Institute in a theatre box office. She’s a preternatural* talent and much younger than me but also has one of those fresh-faced bone structures that make her appear forever seventeen.
Her resume` for playwriting, acting, and charitable causes is long and glittering– regional and international (including Steppenwolf and Goodman theatres and South Korea and Tanzania)– listing multiple awards and citations for prestigious roles and press publications.
She has her keys out so she’s evidently on the way to her car after a– Fundraiser? Luncheon? Awards ceremony?
She asks me how I am.
“Oh my God. You look great. You look so great,” I say. I probably say it a few more times and then I have to go back to work.
“You liked that she was wearing an evening gown while you had on an apron,” my boss said later.
“Yeah! Because the– disparity. It was so iconic. It was like The Turning Point.”
My boss noted that I seemed excited.
“Well. but it’s incredible. This woman who is– a celebrity– who I haven’t seen in years and I’m taking out garbage in an apron and she’s wearing a strapless black evening gown.”
My boss considers this.
“So, you’re both successful in different ways.”
*Preternatural is a word I do not use much in ordinary conversation. Originally I misspelled it “praeternatural”. I blame high school Latin classes.