Once upon a time, pre-Dave Dorman, I dated a corporate exec whom I’ll call “The Senator,” because he had what my friends described as “Senator Hair.” You know the look–parted on one side, conservative, never a hair out of place. As a perfectionist, he desired me fitting into the mold of a corporate exec’s wife–minus the marriage part–and I did my level best to comply. I filled my closet with white oxford shirts and beige khaki slacks, fresh off the pages of a Dilbert cartoon. I severely curbed my longshoreman speak. But…as anyone who truly knows me can attest, I can only behave for so long…the inner rebel always rises to the surface. The moment I’m told I can’t do something, that’s when I have to do it. If you told me I couldn’t snort a piano, I’d be breaking mine down, running it through the food processor, key by key.
One night The Senator informed me that we were joining the rest of the executive staff for a “corporate retreat,” and that I (and the other corporate wives) would be meeting the male execs at some undisclosed location a couple of hours outside of Chicago. I was told I would be riding in a separate bus with the corporate wives, stopping for a leisurely lunch along the way before arriving at the final destination.
Once The Senator was out of earshot, I was on the Bat Phone with my BFF and favorite co-conspirator Marovich. I told her the sitch, and she immediately began plotting with me. Marovich suggested my white oxford shirt and khakis would go well with a transparent beach bag filled with low-brow literature–National Enquirers, Soldier of Fortune magazines, Playgirl. I suggested rub-on tattoos. Game ON.
The corporate wives and I boarded the bus, and so the odyssey began. After our leisurely lunch, I suggested to the ring leader and CEO’s wife, “Wouldn’t it be hilarious if we convinced the hubs we stopped off at a tattoo parlor on the way?” (Mind you, this was the mid-’90s when tattoos weren’t as commonplace.) Once she recovered from her shock at my impertinence, she actually embraced the idea! I couldn’t believe my luck. I showed her my loot–the 50 rub-on tattoos in my bag. Before I knew it, I was whisked away to the washroom of this restaurant where I began rubbing tattoos on middle-aged boobs as fast as I could go. There was literally a line out the door. These women clearly needed a little spice in their lives, and on this trip, I unwittingly became their Srirachi sauce.
Our bus arrived at the secret squirrel destination a good 30 minutes late, and we were instantly admonished by the CEO. It seems that in corporate land, there’s this thing called “a schedule,” (yes, I’m doing the air quotes with my fingers) which is very important to this genus of mammal. The ring leader wife gently protested that we had made an unscheduled stop along the way, and though I didn’t choreograph this, the wives all revealed their tattoos in perfect comedic timing as she finished with the words,”…to a tattoo parlor.” You’ve never seen so many disgusted, horrified caucasian male facial expressions. It was EPIC. The Senator just knew I was somehow behind this. I felt him giving me the stink eye as I avoided eye contact, fighting my smirk as best I could.
Later in the evening, as my new BFFs and I were karaoke-ing, my heart swelled with love for these women and their moment of micro-rebellion. In another era, I’m convinced they would have been right there with me protesting our right to vote, or aiding and abetting the Underground Railroad. Hey, however micro, it’s still progress. On that trip, we became The Sisterhood of the Traveling Khaki Pants.