Sunday, February 10, 2013

Home Economics - Part Two

That night in 1977 as I ate my lunch leftovers of exquisite Chinese food (a very big change from the Chinese we'd been eating in those days) leftovers from the sophisticated Soho restaurant (the beginning of the food revolution in cuisine) I wondered whether I'd lost the big opportunity.  It was a big step up.  It was a jump in pay, in position, in total project management.  I really wanted the job.  I might not have asked for it but now that I'd been courted I wanted the chance to produce a textbook for the first time.  Could I do it?  I supposed but still  it was both scary and exhilarating and now I'd blown it.

I thought it over and tried to think if I'd have done it differently  not taken the food home but every time I came around to the same thing: I just couldn't have allowed that food ("that perfectly good food," as my father would say) to be thrown away. It went against the grain.  No matter how it looked, doing anything else wouldn't be me.  And if they were thinking of hiring me, they needed to know who I was.  Still, not being asked was gong to hurt.

I went in to work subdued. I knew people would be asking me all day.  I got in to my cubicle and buckled down to my IBM Selectric 3 and then, the phone rang.  

It was Mike offering me the job!  I hung up the phone smiling.  I sat with the news a few minutes and then went to whisper to my friends all over the office.   Before long, I thought to call Dick Lidz, the guy who'd recommended me for the job.  I'd been working on a series of twelve career-education paperback books Dick's company was producing for Random House. Adventures in the World of Work was a compilation of job interviews with all the people involved in delivering a product or a service (Who Puts the Plane in the Air?  Who Puts the Blue in the Jeans?). It was gonna be a great set of books and it was going to be my last job at Random House.

"Dick!  Just wanted to thank you.  Butterick offered me the job."

"I know, that's great!"  he replied, "You really WOW-ed them  they had alotta questions and you had the answers. AND  " he lowered his voice and said in a confidential tone, "John and Mike were really happy you could hold your liquor."

"What about Marsha?  She kept pointing out and didn't seem too happy I wasn't a teacher or a home economist."

"Now, shes a stumper.  She wasn't keen on you at all until she came back from your lunch and told Mike, 'She did what a home economist would do.'  Whadaya think that was?"

So. I got the job because I drank three straight Scotches and took the doggy bag from lunch.

Pancetta and all...
When I took that pancetta from the lunch with Marge, I don't know whether I had my father and his depression-mentality thrift in my head, or the more current and pressing fact that having left my job our home economics would be greatly changed. 

But the next day when I was reheating the vegetarian slice of Marge's pizza, I got out that pancetta, sprinkled it on top of the cheese, arugula, and tomatoes and reheated that piece.  As I bit into that delicious leftover, I realized that   for the most part  being who I am, acting the way I believe, has served me well and if I was going to have any success in his new chapter of my career, maybe  maybe I'd better keep on doing what I do and hope for the best.



  1. Love this Denise....:) Yes, be your very lovely self...

    1. And thanks to lovely YOU for saying it Teri...

  2. This is a wonderful blog post/rememberance, and so very much you!

    1. Thanks and yes, that never-throw-away-anything is definitely ME!

  3. Yes, lovely. Just goes to show that the best thing about you is all of you! xox, WK