I think my new co-workers think I’m Mormon.
It may have started with the twin sets. I wear a lot of twin sets. (What? I used to work for Republicans…) Many of my coworkers at my level are young twentysomethings. Despite our rather conservative field, dressing like Madonna is apparently accepted so lots of the girls do it. I am chubby and most sexy clothes don’t flatter me. I wear dull neutral colors. A little too preppy to be beatnik, a little too beatnik to be preppy. (Item: In my last office, I discovered that real Mormons do not wear dull, plain clothes. But before I knew that, my perception was that they did.)
Then, last Thursday, I had a printed excel spreadsheet in the lunchroom. “Whatcha doin?” one of my co-workers asked.
“I’m in charge of a dinner for my church. I have to plan the seating arrangements,” I said.
The girl across the cube wall was organizing a trip out to happy hour. I had a class to teach, but passed by saying I didn’t drink. This is not technically true. I do drink sometimes, though I tend to suffer unpleasant physical effects from it. The real problem is that I am a very, very flirty drunk. Bad thing for drinking around co-workers, so I never go drinking with my co-workers.
I have drunk caffeine occasionally in front of them, but they might have missed it. What is more obvious is that I keep a carton of skim milk in the fridge.
Probably the kicker was the other day when one of the other girls swore in front of me. She apologized. “That’s OK,” I said. “My last office was Mormon, so I’m out of the habit, but it doesn’t offend me.”
Her eyes widened almost imperceptibly, but I knew what the look meant.
So now I’m torn. Because nobody is going to ask me, in offices that’s just not done. And besides, in the commedia dell’arte of offices, the “really Christian one” is not a bad role to play. You can be a little odd and nobody thinks anything of it. People expect you to be nice, but I am nice to a fault anyway. (Oh, stop laughing. Chalicechick and the person who writes her are not completely the same. In real life I am far more the shrinking violet that I sound here.) Maybe that perception would keep me from being “one of the girls,” but I’ve never been “one of the girls” anyway.
It’s worth considering.