Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Corporate Communications #3: Shelley

After the advent of the PCs, when desktop systems totally usurped the place of minicomputers in the corporate information processing scene and relegated minis to trivial stuff like running servers, I rode out the first couple years of upheaval and chaos working as a desktop publishing analyst for a medium-sized insurance company that had its corporate headquarters just off Michigan Avenue along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

In the morning nearly the entire floor would gather around the coffee station getting a cup of coffee, glass of tea or can of Mountain Dew and seeing how far we could push into the nine o’clock hour before starting the day. It was usually almost a complete cross-section of the corporate org chart. There would be VPs, supervisors, tech support staff and the receptionists chatting away the start of the day.

One morning the conversation got around to television. Somebody mentioned that Traci Lords had appeared the night before on “Married With Children.”

“It’s bizarre,” someone said. “Look what television has come to. The most famous porn star in the world can appear on a popular TV show and there’s no out-cry, nobody even cares.”

“Traci Lords is a famous porn star,” I said, “but I don’t know that she is the most famous porn star in the world. I’ve always liked Ginger Lynn. Ginger Lynn doesn’t really look like a porn star—she’s petite and she’s never gotten one of those weird-looking breast jobs to change her small breasts—but she’s always very pretty, always very sexy.”

The divisional VP shook his head. “Ginger Lynn looks like a boy,” he said. “Give me Nina Hartley any day. She has a classic, beautiful face. She’s a little older, but her face has real character. That maturity makes her really sexy.”

“You guys are way off base,” an IS manager said. “Vanessa del Rio has that dark, Latin-kind of sultry voluptuousness that is pure sexy. She’s like the archetype of sexy.”

Shelley, a manager in Human Resources, frowned. Shelley said, “I can’t believe what I’m hearing.”

The divisional VP nodded. “You’re right, Shelley, of course. This is a wildly inappropriate conversation for an office environment.”

Shelley shrugged. “I don’t care about that,” she said. “I can’t believe what I’m hearing because you guys are all adults. You’re all reasonably successful. You’re all reasonably attractive. Yet you all not only know who these porn stars are, but you all have your own favorite!”

For a moment nobody said anything. Then the moment stretched into one of those longer moments where everybody becomes aware that nobody is saying anything and nobody wants to be the first to try to say something.

Those moments never really scared me.

I jumped in with, “Well, look at the time! Better get to work. Time to get the day started!”

All the guys nodded, and we started to drift apart.

All the women laughed and nodded to each other.

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