Miriam was fed up with men that morning; particularly with her husband, Stan.
“You can’t talk to any guys,” he’d told her over breakfast.
It was the day she was to start her new job. “I have to, for work!”
“Well, only about business matters,” he’d warned.
Miriam wasn’t born yesterday, of course, but she was born in the era of technology. She had a brain. She had a job using her brain, to write software code for computers. What’s more, she worked primarily with males, since females didn’t seem to enjoy the same things she did.
“I have to actually be nice to them,” she explained.
“It’s only an invitation,” Stan said. “Also, don’t wear those jeans. Or, your-”
“I know, I know,” she cut him off. “Don’t wear my heels.”
Her mother didn’t understand, when Miriam tried to text-complain what was wrong. I think Stan’s right, dear, to be worried. Miriam could almost picture her mother wagging a finger. Women these days wear things I don’t even swim in, then skip off to a job and never think of having children. You know I would make an excellent grandmother, don’t you, dear?
Her friend, Jill, understood. At least, she understood Miriam. Stan’s just old-fashioned, Jill wrote back. He thinks women ought to stay home and feel satisfied ironing their husband’s work shirts while they have guy AND girl friends.
It wasn’t like the men in Miriam’s line of work were smarmy. Most of them were lucky to pick clothes with patterns that didn’t clash; some were lucky to remember personal hygiene. It also wasn’t like Miriam hadn’t experienced computer science lab flirting. How did Stan think she’d met and married him, after all?
He’s just jealous that I got the job at Sanutech and he didn’t, a small, inner voice suggested.
“Have a good day,” Stan said as he left for his own job; flimsy encouragement atop a towering pile of admonitions, criticisms, worries, and warnings.
“You, too,” she grumbled. He left. She watched him from their basement window as he mounted the stairs to the carport and his feet entered his reliable sedan. She waved to his tires before he drove away down their suburban street.
Upstairs, above her head, she heard the scuffle of shoes on bare wood floor. Stan’s mother was up, then, and getting ready for work. She’d had to ever since Stan’s father had filed for divorce ten years previously. Stan’s father had run off with the only female on his engineering team; a scandalous woman who joked with the guys and wore jeans and high heels.
Sighing, Miriam looked into their only mirror. She pulled a frumpy sweater over her nondescript dress shirt and slacks, touched up her plain hair style, and gave her reflection a half-smile.
“Time for work,” she told the empty apartment, and then headed out to her own reliable sedan.
She’d call Stan at lunch. It’d be nice to have a conversation with the one guy she ought to be friends with, after all.