Gray Lady
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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

The New York Times Slash Fic

(Only Available in TimesSelect)

Pt. I: Are Men Necessary?

Red Shoe DowdIt was the end of a long week at the Gray Lady and the sun had long since gone down when Maureen walked into Alessandra’s office. “Hi. Working late?”

Alessandra looked up from her computer. “Yeah. I’m just putting this piece to bed.”

“Is that so?” Maureen winked and tossed her hair, gently brushing the bangs out of her blue eyes and moved from the doorway into Alessandra’s office. Pulling the hem of her skirt up, she took a seat in front of Alessandra’s desk and sat down. “My legs are killing me in these heels,” she said, rubbing her calves.

Alessandra smiled. She had spent the afternoon carefully researching her article on the limiting fashion trends among high-achieving female television characters in the post-millennium and she was beat; but seeing her best friend in a slinky black dress made her glow. Alessandra admired Maureen in the incandescent light.

“Everything’s gone screwy.” Maureen pouted, her lips red and full.

Alessandra moved from her desk to put her arm around Maureen’s shoulder and let her fingers tangle in the strands of the hair that fell around her neck.

“What’s the matter, kitten?”

Maureen sighed. “Oh, ’Dra. This party is filled with oxymoronic Republican blowhards. I feel as unfulfilled as a Supreme Court chair. I can’t even have a normal conversation with these jerks. It’s one tête-à-tête offensive after another. What was Sulzberger thinking inviting all these neo-cons?”

Alessandra leaned in and breathed the faint scent of Thierry Mugler’s Angel on Maureen’s shoulders. “We should go back to my place and watch television.”

Maureen turned to face her friend and gazed deeply into her hazel eyes. “I spent the whole evening at this thing with a bunch of sleazy Republican men who brayed incessantly about the lack of morality in the media, but couldn’t stop staring at my cleavage. I feel like we’re at living in the dark ages. This country is amok with the jingoistic chest-beating of Neanderthals who use Viagra and war to feel like men. They’re just little Napoleons driving Porsches to the Rapture.”

“Stop, stop…” Alessandra put a finger to her friend’s lips, red and hungry, still wet with gloss.

Maureen took a deep breath, her bosom heaving. “Is it hot in here?”

“No, honey,” Alessandra smiled and gazed longingly at Maureen’s chest. “It’s you.”

Maureen smiled, and ducked her head, coyly shaking her hair into her eyes.

“And it’s going to get much hotter,” Alessandra whispered, pressing closer.

Maureen felt the hot breath of her girlfriend against her ear and neck, and closed her eyes. “Tell me more … ”

“Men aren’t necessary … ” Alessandra cooed.

The girls clasped each other’s arms, embracing. Maureen parted her lips, desperately wanting to say something meaningful, but was rendered as speechless as Bush 43 in a spelling contest.

Suddenly the moment was lost, disturbed by the sweaty presence of man on a rumpled jacket. “Knock, knock. Hello, ladies. Am I interrupting something?”

Alessandra stood upright and turned on her heels. “Friedman! We’re trying to have a conversation here, dammit!”

Maureen turned. There he was: tall and imposing, the smell of Fritos and coffee on his breath.

“Hey, sorry, but I had to get outta there. Jennifer 8. Lee is driving me nuts and Ann Coulter is in the other room. She’s telling people that you’re all washed up.”
He looked at Maureen.

“I saw her. She’s tarted herself up like Daryl Hannah in Blade Runner. A Talbots Republicant…”

Friedman smirked. “Bitter, Mo? What’s the matter?”

Alessandra folded her arms. “She’s on deadline, Friedman.”

Maureen sighed, “This party’s a drag. I’ve got twelve inches of column space to fill and nothing to write about.”

Friedman nodded, his eyes gleaming. “I might be able to help you out with that … ”

Alessandra pulled back and studied the mustache of the man in the rumpled coat, likening him to Tom Selleck during his successful television stint at a Hawaiian-based private investigator, “Matt Houston,” before he turned to a largely unrewarding career in film. She jumped in. “I’m on deadline, too!”

Friedman stroked his mustache. “Don’t worry, ladies … There’s enough of the Frymaster to go around … ”

And then he shut the door.

Mick Stingley is a freelance writer. He is single and lives alone in New York City. He and Céline Dion will both be 40 on March 30, 2008.