One of my favorite quotes comes from an interview with Joss Whedon where the interviewer asked: “Why do you write such strong female characters?” To which Whedon responds: “Because you’re still asking me that question.” Five Talents has two strong female characters, of very different ilks. The first is Karen, a young writer on the LA Weekly alongside my other protagonist, Calvin. This is the second scene I have with Karen as she puts up with the not-such-great-role-models Natalee and Natalie, “the Nats.”
The girls tumbled in, the steps trudging tiredly on their high strappy heels to settle into the chairs on the other side of the desk from her. They wore matching coquettish grins and sipped from their blended drinks as Natalie opined, “You missed such a fun night.”
Natalee seconded, “seriously, so much fun.”
Karen had outright ignored their text messages inviting her out to Hyde Lounge. Aside from not being her kind of night out, “It was Sunday night.”
“Sunday Fundaaaaaaaay,” the girls chimed together before sliding into deep slouches and nursing their drinks.
“Well, glad it was fun. Seems like it only just ended,” Karen pointed out in reference to their dresses.
“Yeah, we hooked up with guys who happened to live in the area, so we figured, let’s just come in and see what the early morning is all about,” Natalee commented proudly.
“You seem to like them so much,” Natalie added wryly.
Karen rolled her eyes while opening the email with the week’s copy, “they do tend to be a party. We go crazy, you know working, and helping each other working.”
Natalie rolled her eyes back at Karen, “geez, we get it. Still, at least have some fun with it. What’s the point of working here if you don’t use the fact that you’re a fashion writer for the LA Weekly to have fun?”
Karen opened the attachment to begin her proofread of the copy. Karen gave a confused look at both the Nats, “we’re not fashion writers, we’re interns. I’m working to try to earn the position of writer,” Karen explained, baffled that she had to spell it out. After four months of this ongoing frivolity in the Nats, and after the morning she had, the same curdling in her stomach bubbled up and she added, “do you two not get that? We’re competing for a job. Against each other. I’m not saying we can’t be friends, but I am saying that not working , coming in late, and just loafing around isn’t going to get you the job.”
The Nats, for their part, managed to look equally offended and pitying of Karen. Natalie pouted, “you really think they’ll fire us? Geez, grow up Karen. It’s just a motivation tactic.”
“Yeah, like, telling someone they’ll get cake if they do well at school,” Natalee added.
“And you get the cake anyway.”
“Yeah, because who lets cake go to waste?”
“There’s no cake!” Karen said incredulously.
“Well of course not, it’s a metaphor,” Natalee said as if it were obvious.
“Analogy,” Karen corrected.
“What?” Natalie asked.
“Besides, the print journalism industry is going down the pipe,” Natalie explained. Karen looked challengingly at her, and was about to ask why she’d applied for a job in a dying industry then, but the girl continued, “so they can’t afford to fire us.”