Here you go. ABOVE THE FOLD tackles that tough subject where Valley of the Dolls left off. Our protagonist is about to enter UCSB and get that BA. It’s her first day on the job. I always edit later so still in rough mode, but here we go. This one is for Jill Abramson and any women who worked for papers in the era 1981-2001. The novel will be looking at themes encountered in the men and women of that special workforce, known as an American Newspaper.
Cat’s paper had won one of these!
A bit more of Cat’s back story, and latent emerging feminist motifs:
Scene 2 Cat — Personnel, taking new job, Accounting Dept.
Day two scene two “ABOVE THE FOLD.” Opener. FEMINISM back story Cat:
Cat was in for a surprise her first day. She had applied for one of the lowliest jobs in the building. She’d seen it in the paper and it was to work at the counter as a cashier. Moving home had been harder than Cat ever imagined. For one thing? She was about to get her first apartment. She had rented a room in the house of one of her former high school classmates and he wanted to sleep with Cat as if that was part of the deal for living under his mother’s roof. Cat didn’t want to. Cat was still in love with the photojournalist she had run away from in Los Angeles, but men think that any woman is fair game most of the time — if they put the pressure on. Both of them were the first of their circle to be UCSB students. He in Economics, and she undeclared.
The cashier’s job was her ticket to an apartment of her own. He had appeared at the door to her room and tried, but Cat had only wanted their old friendship from High School, not more. When the grown-up roses were delivered by her boyfriend in LA. it was the last straw. Men can’t stand it when other men come first with women. As with anything in life, they consider themselves “number one.”
“We’ve decided that you have too much experience for that cashier’s job,” the Personnel lady said. “I have something else for you, in Accounting.”
“Oh,” said Cat. “I see.”
“It’s your fashion background.”
“I’m sending you up to meet our General Manager, and then I’m going to take you on a tour of the building.”
“Thank you,” Cat said softly. “I’m so happy I got the job.”
She held her breath as they walked up the stairs. It was the back way to the offices of the top men in the building. As in any company there are levels and layers of power, and Cat was being led into the upper rungs of that. It was quiet up there. These were going to be the male versions of what Ruth Bennett had taught her to deal with, not that long ago. She wondered if any women in the building were going to be like Ruth had been. It seemed the same. Not much different than the heirarchies in a big department stores like the one she had spent several years at.
Cat’s promotions had always come because she was good at her job. How she had gotten the promotion to Assistant Buyer had come because she had sold a Texan and his wife seven thousand dollars worth of fashionable togs at time when that was unheard of for the store. It had been easy for Cat. The man just wanted to buy things for his wife to decorate her. That she was roly-poly and Midwestern seeming didn’t phase Cat in the least. She had simply dressed her with as much grace as she could muster, pulling dresses and sportswear from the racks and rings she spent every afternoon colorizing.
“I want them all,” he drawled. “For the little woman.”
Cat hadn’t learned to bristle yet, at these kinds of comments from men. It was at the paper that she would learn what men were capable of, and what sort of men existed in the world. Little did she know she was going to be spending the next twenty years of her life there and she was going to meet all kinds of men. Also? All kinds of women.
The general manager’s office had a dusty feel to it, and he was kindly faced. His hair was pure white and even though Cat felt intimated in the corridors of power, he put her right at ease.
“I’m so glad you will be joining us,” he said. “We thought about it and we want to offer you a job that has been vacant for the last three months. The last girl left and there is a lot of paperwork that needs to be caught up on.”
“I’ll try my best,” Cat said.
“We knew you had valuable experience and we didn’t want to waste you on a simple position.”
Cat smiled at him. Papers were all over his desk. In fact she had never seen so much paper in her life. The newspaper business seemed to be about paper, endless reams and reams of it. That was the first thing she noticed on the tour. She was taken everywhere and introduced to the managers as if they were going to be family.
“This is your office,” she was told. “Your desk.”
“Let me introduce you to Benecio Gonzales. He runs things down here.”
“And this is Rosie.”