Admit it, as much as you might not want to: You are way more efficient when you feel put together and when you feel like you look good. Every women’s publication in the country has a running loop of “What to Wear for ‘X’ Occasion” articles that get ravenously gobbled up by hoards of women who want to be dressed appropriately when they Meet the In-Laws or have to Give that Big Presentation or Want to Look Nice for this Date but Don’t Want to Look Like a Slut. You can read these articles until you go blind, and you will if you read all of them, but behind all the questions of hemline length and heel height and whether it’s OK to paint on a black eye for sympathy before you go to traffic court lies one undeniable truth: when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you TCB. By “good”, I do NOT mean physically comfortable, so scoop those visions of pajama jeans and Ugg boots out of your brain and throw them out with the cat litter. I mean “GOOD”. I mean when you dress yourself in an outfit that fits you and that is an undeniable expression of you. YOUR taste. YOUR hemline. YOUR killer boots. So that the only thought you ever give to your outfit is one of smug self-satisfaction, freeing you to focus on the really important things, like job interviews or showing the in-laws your magnanimous potential contribution to their gene pool or walking out of the courthouse scot-free.
We now offer, for your consideration, the use of “good” in a sentence.
Sophie’s eyes fluttered open and squinted against the blueish rays of pre-dawn light that glimmered through the chill autumn air wafting through her open window. Nestling deeper into the soft warmth of the bed, she savored the comfort and stillness of the moment before rising to face the day. A large, orange, extremely dignified tabby cat walked into her room. The cat stretched, yawned, sat on his haunches, and stared at her complacently.
“Good morning, Tom,” Sophie mumbled to the cat from under the covers.
“Good morning, Sophie,” said the cat. “Are you getting up now? You should get up now. You have that interview at 10:00 and you need time to blow dry your hair, and you should probably shave your legs too.”
“I don’t need to shave my legs,” said Sophie. “It’s chilly out, I was going to wear tights with my dress or maybe pants.”
Tom licked one of his paws, which looked endearingly like fat little marshmallows, and rubbed the moistened paw across his eyebrow several times. “I picked out your outfit for you after you went to bed last night. I couldn’t sleep. You’re wearing pants, but I think you should shave your legs anyway because even if no one notices, you’ll still feel fresher and more put together. It will give you a boost. You’ll present yourself with more confidence if you’re well-groomed,” Tom said wisely, and flopped on his side onto the floor.
“You’re right, Tom,” Sophie said as she pushed off her blankets and rose from bed. “And thanks for picking out my outfit! You’re my best friend and I don’t know what I’d do without you.” Tom the cat rolled onto his back in an exquisitely luxurious display of fluffy white tummy fur and stretched his front legs up over his head as he tilted his chin up to gaze at Sophie adoringly.
“Without me, you would perish,” said Tom, “The same as I would do without you. Can you please feed me now? I made you an egg sandwich for breakfast but I want to eat wet food and I still haven’t figured out how to work the can opener.”
“Oh Tom,” sighed Sophie, “I would get you an electric can opener that you could operate with your paw by pushing a button, but I can’t let you have control of a can opener. You’re a cat. You go crazy for wet food. You wouldn’t be able to stop yourself from eating too much, you’d get very fat, and then you might get diabetes. You don’t want diabetes, do you? I’d have to give you shots every day and it would cost a fortune. We wouldn’t be able to spend as much on snacks and recreational activities. I’m sorry, little buddy.”
Tom had fallen asleep and offered no reply save for the steady, unconscious purr of the generally contented. Sophie stepped over him and walked to the kitchen, where she emptied a can of cat food into Tom’s dish and began to eat the breakfast sandwich he had prepared for her. At the sound of the can opener biting into tin he snapped awake and streaked like a loud, yowling furry bullet into the kitchen, skidding to a halt in front of his dish where he buried his face in cold meat up to the bridge of his pink nose.
Sophie emerged from the shower a half hour later, smooth and clean, and after completing her usual cosmetic ritual she donned the outfit Tom had laid out for her, carefully selected and lovingly pressed, and walked out the door into the fresh October sun. “Goodbye, Tom!” she shouted over her shoulder, “Have fun, please don’t claw up the couch any more and be careful about getting your litter in the bed, wish me luck!”
“I’ll try,” said Tom, “but I can’t promise anything. Good luck!”
Walking, Sophie felt some of her nervousness concerning the interview begin to melt away. The click-clack of her high-heeled boots upon the smooth concrete was a nostalgic sound, reminiscent of the click-clack of a teacher’s walk in a school hallway, a sound deeply infused with authority and knowledge. “Tom is so smart,” thought Sophie. “I can always trust him to pick out the best shoes for any occasion.”
As she looked down in admiration of her boots, she noticed also the way the smooth chocolate leather of the boot shaft effortlessly complemented her burgundy twill pants and the way her pants fit JUST right, with a slim, straight cut but not too tight, with a leg-lengthening, muffin top-eliminating moderate high rise, and with nothing stupid embroidered on the back pockets and no loud, ugly label in sight. “My pants are the pants of nirvana,” Sophie quietly whispered in wonder, “they are the pinnacle of pants, the evolutionary apex of trousers. I am clad in perfection, and perfection becomes me. Tom is truly a wonderful cat.”
As traffic politely stopped to allow her to cross the street, Sophie waved a Thank You in either direction and absently adjusted the bow at the neck of her blouse. She smiled as she thought about what a predictable cat Tom was; of course he selected this blouse for her to wear on her important day. It was his favorite blouse she owned and he referred to it as her “lucky shirt” because she had been wearing it the day she found him, wet and hungry, hiding from the rain in an empty flower pot on her porch, and adopted him into her home.
She worried for a moment, as she neared the towering structure of the Trans-International Bureau of Being Great, Living Conscientiously, and Striving Unceasingly for Excellence, that perhaps the preciousness of her blouse would negate her intended projection of authority, but one glance at the translucent reflection in the revolving glass door to the building assured her that no such negation would occur, for her jacket was a miracle in jacket genetics, an astonishing amalgamation of professionalism and practicality with the length of an anorak and the clean tailoring of a blazer, oversized but in no way shapeless, the houndstooth pattern hearkening to the foggy English countryside in vintage tones of cranberry and teal, and with the sleek softness of the black leather lapel running from the neck down the length of the breast with an almost lethal dose of masculine sophistication.
“Dang,” said Sophie, “I look so incredibly capable and chic!”
“You ARE so incredibly capable and chic!” exclaimed the receptionist staff as she strode through the elevator doors. She got off at the 43rd floor, entered her office, and sat down to a cup of freshly brewed coffee. The static of the intercom preceded the voice of her secretary, who informed her that her 10:00 interview had arrived.
“Thank you, Janet,” said Sophie, “Go ahead and send him in.”
Sophie leaned back into her chair, adjusted the lapel of her jacket, and assumed a countenance of relaxed superiority. A man walked through the door of her office and surveyed Sophie with an expression of bored dislike.
“Have a seat, Senator.” Sophie gestured at the chair across from her. As the Senator did so, he removed his gloves and withdrew from the inner pocket of his coat a checkbook and a pair of reading glasses. He fogged the lenses of the glasses with his breath and cleared his throat.
“Well, Sophie, if you don’t mind then let’s get right down to business,” said the Senator without looking up, “What is it going to take to get the endorsement of your organization?”
“Well, Senator, if you don’t mind then let me remind you of the purpose of your meeting here with me this morning,” replied Sophie. “You are here to acquire an endorsement. Here at the Trans-International Bureau of Being Great, Living Conscientiously, and Striving Unceasingly for Excellence, we like to endorse individuals and organizations that espouse the ideals declared in our company title. My job is to ensure that you actively uphold those ideals before we grant you our support. Since I am conducting this interview, I think it’s best if I ask the questions, and you answer them.” Sophie swung one long, burgundy-clad leg over the other and leaned towards the Senator. “What, precisely, have you done proactively to be great, live conscientiously, and strive unceasingly for excellence?”
The Senator creaked back into his chair and chuckled. “Listen, sweetheart. I don’t need to try to be great. I am great. If you want conscientiousness, you can go ahead and try to track down the remains of anyone who’s ever been stupid enough to try to stand in my way. And if you measure excellence in cash, then I have enough to get what I want. I also have enough to get what YOU want for getting me what I want. And I also have enough to get what you DON’T want, if you get any big ideas about giving me trouble.”
Sophie calmly surveyed the Senator over the rim of her coffee mug. The Senator laughed again, a sound like gravel bouncing off a raw steak. “All you little fresh-faced bitches, thinking you can hold the world accountable. I can buy and sell you 10 times over in a fraction of the time it takes you to save up for one of your cute little outfits.”
The Senator pushed a document towards Sophie and placed the checkbook in front of him. “Just tell me how much you want, sign the paper, and get me the hell out of this building. I have an orphanage to foreclose on in half an hour.”
Sophie smiled and tilted her head so that the looped chains of her earrings draped with a warmly reassuring weight onto her neck.
“I’m sorry, Senator, I think there’s been a misunderstanding.”
“That’s my good girl,” said the Senator.
“You see,” said Sophie, “I actually can hold the world accountable. It’s my job. I hold you accountable. Your public record speaks for itself, but we like to offer people the chance to reform.”
The Senator rolled his eyes and looked at his watch. Sophie tore the document in half and placed it in her wastebasket, crushing it into a banana peel with the elegant 4″ stacked wood heel of her boot. The Senator looked flabbergasted.
“Senator, you are a depraved and vile burden on society. You will never get the endorsement of this bureau. I realize that you will continue to work against our ethos quite effectively without our blessing, but please be assured that we view you as a very small man, and as such you are a very small threat. You aren’t very big or powerful at all. I’m actually disappointed by how pathetic you are, I don’t enjoy chastising you in this way when I feel so sorry for you.” Sophie reached into one of the generously deep, fully lined pockets of her jacket and withdrew an ATM receipt. “If you look here, Senator, you will see that I don’t have very much money. I work for a large non-profit organization and I spend too much money on my cat and my cute little outfits. However, I wouldn’t touch your filthy blood money if it crawled up my perfect ass and made me start crapping gold. Take your checkbook and see yourself out of my office. Do not bother trying to get another interview with this organization again. You are finished here.”
The Senator stood up, red-faced with rage. “You’re the one who’s finished,” he snarled, “I can’t wait to make an example out of you,” and he turned and stalked out of the room.
When Sophie returned home from work, Tom greeted her at the door. “How did the interview go?” he purred, twining around her ankles.
“It went poorly,” sighed Sophie, “I guess some people are just crappy no matter how much you’d like to see them be good.”
“I’m sorry,” said Tom, “Do you want to rub my tummy?”
“More than anything!” said Sophie, but as she bent down to pet the handsome kitty a knock sounded at the door. She turned and opened it. It was the Senator, holding a baseball bat and wearing a very menacing look. To his right and left stood very large and mean-looking men.
“I told you you’d be sorry,” he snarled.
“Oh, this is disappointing,” lamented Sophie, and she looked dolefully at Tom. “Tom, dear? Will you be mommy’s sweet little good boy and eat these men?”
“Of course,” said Tom, and devoured the three no-good-doers in three large gulps.
“That was good,” said Tom.
“Thank you, Tom,” said Sophie.
“Sophie?” said Tom.
“Yes, Tom?” said Sophie.
“You really look very fabulous right now.”
“Thank you, darling.”
Tom and Sophie walked to the couch together, where they lay down and snuggled the rest of the night away with impeccable style and grace.