[Come summer heat, much of my blogging momentum melts away. Hence an experiment until Labor Day: fifty minimalist posts about whatever.]

A well-known Boston law firm shattered, and its various rain-making partners took their business and legal staff elsewhere. One of those partners came to the firm where I was an associate. He needed more lawyers to work on his cases; I was drafted. That’s how I met Attorney S., a former full partner at the now-defunct firm, only a “contract” partner without equity at this one. She was fashionable, hard-working, judgmental and cold. A superb trial lawyer, she had absolutely no mentoring skills. The other associates called her “The Ice Queen.”

However, there was a certain unspoken camaraderie at that firm among its few women lawyers. Not that anyone would have laid her job on the line for you. But when my mother died and I went to tell Attorney S. I’d be away for five days, she came out from behind her majestic partner desk and put her arms around me. When I informed her, among others, that I’d been given a year’s notice, she was the only one who actually gave me names of contacts with whom to begin my job search. And long after the partners decided to rehire me to practice in another department and she herself had left to join a new boutique firm as a full equity partner, she sporadically stayed in touch. Then she offered me a better job.

Of course, I was grateful. But at the boutique firm, was she now any friendlier?  She occasionally invited me to one of her parties, if the guest list was short. We might have lunch, if she found herself free. But on weekends she never had time. That’s when she shopped, and socialized with more important people. After moving to Princeton, I now and then sent emails;  she always answered, never wrote first. From a distance I pitied her: no children, no close family, no longer young. So year after year I also sent birthday greetings.  And each time she replied she was so happy I remembered — yet never sent greetings to me.

At last, I gave up. As they used to say, it takes two to tango. Whatever she felt and couldn’t express, who needs that kind of friend?

7 thoughts on “WRITING SHORT: 38/50

  1. Sometimes, a tango is best done solely. At least it avoids getting kicked by a bad dancer.
    Sometimes, people don’t return the affection.
    Sometimes, affection might have to be unconditional.
    Sometimes, people are too self centred.
    Sometimes, life can be so lonely.

    Liked by 1 person

    • One can dance alone, Gerard. But not the tango. The tango *does* take two.

      This woman, I think, did not have enough affection for herself. I suspect being “self-centered” (which she was) is a function of low self esteem. She certainly always needed to be the one behind the majestic partner desk, dispensing noblesse oblige when it suited her, even after a relationship moved out of the office.

      Was she lonely? She did have a husband, who ran around cleaning up after her when she cooked in her designer kitchen. But she was hurt when she learned she was known as “The Ice Queen.”


  2. Jools

    You’re so right, Nina, it does take two to tango. I’m a firm believer in ‘equal’ friendships where, without the need to be rigorous, there is a general balance of love, care, attention and effort. Where there is not, there may be other, and good, reasons for maintaining contact, but friendship isn’t amongst them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t have said it better, Julie. Here, the relationship began on an unequal playing field — she the partner (read “boss”), me the associate (read “employee”). Outside the office, she apparently still needed that big desk between herself and others, unless they were very “important” people whose company enhanced her self-image. I think this post came into my head because I’m sure she still occasionally wonders, “What happened?” — and I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, not a bit of it, but sometimes I do. At least she doesn’t read the blog.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Barbara. I’m sure she doesn’t “prefer” it. (See the last sentence in my response to Gerard, above.) But she is what life made her — and without therapy, the idea of which she always abhorred — what can one do?


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