It’s Sunday, so one more step on our way to 52 bad stories. Here is story 10.
Prompts this week were a fashionista runs into someone from her past. Prop was the last bottle of a rare vintage wine. That really didn’t get worked in this week.
The happy hour was already going full swing when Wendy arrived. The room was filled with women, all dressed like they were internet fashion stars, which of course they all were. She took a glass from a waiter, it was the signature drink of the conference, a cosmo, of course. She took a small sip and realized that it was very watered down. This would not do. She made her way to the open bar.
The bartender put a small napkin down in front of her. It was branded with the conference logo, a pair of red stilettos, and the name, In Her Shoes 2019. “A cabernet, please,” Wendy said.
He pulled a cork out of a bottle and gave a generous pour. He pointed at her conference badge, the bright orange of a presenter. “Keynote speaker, huh? You may need this.”
Wendy took the glass and nodded. She did not come all this way to flirt with bartenders. She turned back to the crowd and surveyed the other participants. There was Jill, who was one of the original fashion bloggers, back in the “aughts” when no one knew what blogging was. Now they were no longer fashion bloggers, they were influencers and they all spanned multiple platforms, from their own websites, to Instagram, to what ever is next. Because there is always something next and Wendy’s goal for the conference was to figure out what was next, and be the first to cash in on it. While the room was mostly women, there were a few men in rumpled suits. That was who Wendy was after, the coders trying to push their new platforms.
“Wendy’s Workwear! Wendy, I am so looking forward to your speech tomorrow night!” A short, thin blonde came over to Wendy and put her hand on Wendy’s arm. “Do I get a sneak preview?”
“Evelyn, so good to see you!” Wendy patted Evelyn’s hand, even if she did think Evelyn’s blog, Everyday Ev, was a copy of several others. “I don’t know, it’s going to be so hard to top your speech from last year. I think every one of us left with huge plans to build our communities using all the tips you gave.”
“Oh, you are so sweet,” Evelyn gushed. Her glass was empty and she glanced around. “I wish they would find a new venue for In Her Shoes, though. The service here is always rather iffy.” She waved her glass around, as if it would make a server magically appear. “I mean, we are a fashion influencer convention and look at the servers? Those black pants don’t fit any of these people, and don’t even let me get started on the once white button downs and clip on bow ties.”
Wendy had to laugh. She did like Evelyn, she was just a wee bit jealous that Evelyn was more successful. “Maybe next year, we should offer to upgrade the uniforms.” As she said that, a server did come and hold out a tray for Evelyn’s empty glass.
Evelyn put the glass down and didn’t even look at the person. “Fit is everything you know. You can have inexpensive things, but they have to be tailored properly. Too many people think you can just buy things off the rack and have a great wardrobe.” The server was still standing there, and Evelyn tilted her head, “Did you need something, sweetie?”
If she was insulted at being patronized, the server didn’t show it. “Oh, I was just waiting to say hello to my old college roommate. How are you, Wendy?”
Wendy felt herself gasp a bit. Was this really Kat? Her name tag said so, but Wendy’s roommate Kat was dark haired and sleek. She ran and did yoga. This bloated mess, with purple striped hair and poorly hidden tattoos was not Kat. The tattoos were not even the pretty, colorful kind. “I’m uh, fine. I was not expecting to see you here.”
Evelyn’s eyes grew wide. “Oh, you know each other?” She pulled out her iPhone. “Here, why not let me get a shot of the two of you having a reunion. How long since you’ve seen each other?”
Wendy could feel her face reddening. The last thing she wanted was to have her photo with this server spread all over the internet. Evelyn was enjoying this entirely too much. Maybe it was a set up, a joke and this wasn’t Kat. The real Kat would appear any minute now. Wendy looked around, hoping to see her. But this FatKat put a sweaty arm over Wendy’s shoulder and turned to the camera. She still held the tray of dirty glasses, as if she were proud of her job. Who would be proud to be a server?
Evelyn got the photo and waved her phone around. “Let me go sit and get the filters on and you can see the post in a few minutes.”
Wendy panicked. Now she was alone with this woman, this imposter.
“You didn’t answer? How are you?” Kat asked. “I mean, besides the beautiful house and the picture perfect family on your instagram feed?”
“Oh, you’ve seen it? I didn’t realize you were following me.”
“Perfectly understandable, you have a gazillion followers.” Kat smiled, and Wendy realized it really was her. She could not believe Kat would let herself go like this.
“What is your Instagram name? I will try to follow you.”
“Oh, I don’t post anything, I just follow. Looking for inspiration, I guess. You have done so much with your account and your blog. Those clothing companies look like they just throw money and outfits at you.”
“Um, well, it may look like that, but you know, it’s a lot of work. Building my own brand, making sure that I am only working with brands that have similar values and ethics to my own. A lot of research. In a lot of ways, I am really using that Psychology degree that we both got.”
Kat nodded. “You don’t think I am using mine?”
“Well, I’m sure you are. I just thought you were going to be a counselor. Or write books.”
“Something important you mean?” Kat didn’t seem angry, but she never did even when they were roommates. She was always the calm one. She had a sign over her desk, “Patience is a virtue.” Kat pointed to Wendy’s empty glass. “Let’s get you a refill and go talk.”
Wendy nodded. She followed Kat over to the bar, and instead of talking to the bar tender, Kat reached over the bar and grabbed a bottle of wine. She grabbed another glass and winked at Wendy.
Wendy followed Kat again and they went into an empty dining room. Kat uncorked the bottle and poured herself a glass, and then held the bottle toward Wendy.
Wendy took the bottle and filled her glass. “Aren’t you supposed to be working? I don’t want you to get in trouble.”
Kat took a sip of wine. “I am working.”
Wendy sat down, and tapped her fingers on the table. How long would she have to talk to Kat? Should she ask what happened? How she ended up a fat catering server? Kat had so much potential. She could have done fashion blogging herself. “And your boss won’t mind you sitting a while?”
“My boss?” Kat laughed. “Oh, this?” She pulled off the clipped bow tie and unbuttoned the white shirt.
Underneath was some kind of tan underwear. Wendy guessed it was spanx. She kind of gulped. If that was spanx, then Kat was even bigger?
Kat sat down and took a sip of her wine. “It’s a fat suit. I am not working the party as a caterer, I am working the party as a researcher. We are looking into the attitudes of influencers toward overweight people.” She sipped more wine. “There’s a whole team of us. Some are in the suits and some are observing the interactions between your folks and the servers. You guys aren’t doing so well. The lack of eye contact is amazing. You know that weight gain isn’t contagious, right?”
Wendy could not believe it. “So that is just a fat suit and you’re, um, normal?”
Kat shook her head. “The average woman in America is a size 14. So, no, I am not normal in the sense that I still wear a size 6. But your colleagues are trying to make the normal be a size 4 who lives in a six bedroom house with a white kitchen big enough to hold an NFL team.”
Wendy gripped her wine glass. “You are so judgmental. You always have been. Me and my colleagues have worked very hard for everything we have.”
“I didn’t say you didn’t. You are the one who is defensive. I was just explaining my research.”
Wendy stood up and the wine left in her glass spilled over the white table cloth. “I can’t believe this. You are here judging all of us, like you are so superior. I do a job. Is it as important as a doctor or a police officer? No, but I like what I do and I help lots of people. I help them find their style and feel good about themselves. I help them find things to save time and improve their homes. You have no business judging me.”
Kat took a sip of her wine and said nothing.
Wendy smoothed her hair, and then left the room. She had to find the conference staff. There was no way they knew about Kat and her deception.