I would say I’m a whore for work, but whores get paid. So I guess I have to say I’m a slut.
Let me clarify, I’m talking about internships. Since arriving in New York, I’ve found two places that will have me. They’re new internships and basically being invented as I go along, but they give me the much needed experience that anyone who’s starting out needs and the people I’m working for couldn’t be nicer. Really. They treat me just like everyone else. I swear. Well, sort of. Let me be honest; I’m giving it up often, for free, and whenever they ask.
Being an intern is like being a late night booty call. I barely warrant a complete sentence. Mostly it’s akin to “u up?” To which I respond, “I’m certainly excited to hear from you. I’d love to help in any way I can and thank you for thinking of me. I’m happy to meet at a place and time that’s convenient for you.” (I’ve actually written those very lines on more than one occasion…I know, slut.) As an intern you have to respond to everything as if you’re writing back to POTUS. (Actually, complete sentences matter regardless of the matter, but that’s another matter.) And then come running.
As we all know (or those of us who’ve been on one end or the other), this kind of arrangement can only last so long. My internships will eventually leave the casual phase and move into the routine, and my curiosity as of late is how long to let this angle dangle. What does giving it up for free do to the perceived value? Sure, it shows I’m hungry and willing, but, ultimately, who is actually attracted to desperation? (Which is basically the reason anyone takes an internship…no one will actually pay for you.) It’s like old-school mothers warning their daughters: “No one buys the cow when they’re gettin’ the milk for free.” Sure, Mom’s talking about sex, and let’s leave aside for a moment the association of a girl and a cow, but really, why would anyone pay for something they’re getting for nothing? Does my slutty status for work diminish my worth? Some friends tell me it does. That I’m better than that. That I can find someone who will value me for me and show it. But they’re friends. They’re supposed to tell you shit like that.
Do you respect the person you never even had to buy a drink to bed? The one you absent-mindedly give your slush pile to? (That’s a publishing term, I swear.) Probably not as much as the one you took out to dinner. Or the one you pay. At some point your willingness to do anything will take that terrible turn from the experiential (“This guy will do anything!”) to the desperate (“This guy will do anything?”). I’m starting to feel like we need to have “the talk,” where I oh-so-respectfully, and with an earnest hope for everyone’s happiness, ask where this is heading, if we’re ever really going to have a relationship like they have with the others. Or if they’ll at least leave a wad of cash on the nightstand…or in this case, on my desk.
It can’t be too much to ask, after all we’ve meant to each other, to be scooped up and made me an honest employee. Like that girl in “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Or that other girl in “Pretty Woman.” Hell, you don’t even need a uniform or a limo! Oddly enough, it’s Richard Gere who’s the scooper in both films…so I better be careful what I’m asking for. Of course, he was also the “American Gigolo.” At this point, I’d settle to be Deuce Bigolo.
I know I’m not alone out there in the workplace; there are plenty of other sluts too. I’m sure most of us have been there at one time or another. You know, your college years. Your twenties. Now. Happily smiling as we lay down our time for what everyone needs to enter an industry: experience. After all, this is how you get better. This is how you get to know the tricks of the trade, so to speak. I know that most of my fellow sluts are younger and that I’m the somewhat more weathered one at the party. But don’t discount me. I might be a little rougher around the edges, may not be what people are thinking when they’re imagining their next hire, but what I lack in youth I make up for with some moves I learned along the way.
So I’m a slut for work. But hey, at least I’m gettin’ some. Work that is. And one day, soon, I’ll work my way up to being a whore. Dare to dream.