I will get to the undies, but first……… many of us spend of a lot of time every week with our work colleagues. Through close proximity, we get to know and care about each other and exchange the important minutiae of daily life. Looking back, people I’ve worked with have influenced a lot of things in my life. From taking a scuba-diving course (hyperventilating on a choppy night-dive in wobbegong shark infested waters, another dive tripping on a cocktail of motion sickness meds and antibiotics), to being invited into the business manager’s ‘harem’ in an affluent stock-broking firm (the payoffs were great, seriously).
Ideas, tears, gossip, recipes, career, lifestyle, financial and relationship advice, dieting tips, jokes etc are exchanged at work places in all forms, all over the world. Time is spent with colleagues outside of work drinking, eating, partying, holidaying, romancing, avoiding potential romances, attending dinners, book clubs, baby showers, weddings etc. I even Sh’bam (see blog) with workmates (and they still talk to me).
A friend at work encouraged me to write a light-hearted blog this week, so here it is. I’ve decided to write how three willing ‘guinea-pig’ friends in my office played their part in the love scene in Arafura last year.
Without spoiling the plot, the love scene was easy to write. I just let the characters do what they’d been dying to do. But, being my first novel, I wanted feedback on what my characters had gotten up to. Were the scenes credible, not too awkward? Had new methods of reproduction been invented that I’d missed? Were the words I used OK? I couldn’t ask my husband who’d already accused me of using him for research purposes (he wishes to remain nameless, to protect the ignorant).
So I asked three friendly, intelligent, female ‘volunteers’ of different generations at work if they’d look over this climactic part of Arafura. I holed up the two youngest (24 and 30 years) one lunch hour in a meeting room with the relevant text, pencils and visual aids (pictures of the male actor I think most suits the role, they had to imagine themselves as the female protagonist). Despite being cooped up in a serious, security-conscious work environment on an empty stomach, they duly giggled, snorted at, and made very helpful suggestions to my love scenes amidst their occasional outbursts of, “I can’t believe we’re doing this at work.”
The friend closer to my own age read it over her lunch separately. Afterwards, aware of my feedback session, she asked me in hushed tones, “How did it go?”
“Great!” I replied, looking around me in the corridor, “but they said I shouldn’t use the word ‘knickers’.”
(Thanks to www.kidsinaustralia.com.au for above unmentionables)
“Well, of course you wouldn’t!” she replied, shocked and appalled.
“Really?” I asked, wondering how I’d missed this faux pas until now.
“No way!” she said, looking at me as if I was missing half my brain.
“You’re joking?! I didn’t know it was a bad word?” I whispered. At this point I was so confused I gave the elastic of my own a good flick.
“You didn’t?” she gasped, patient yet incredulous.
“What should I say instead?”
Turns out, she thought I’d said ‘nigger’. To her credit she didn’t tell anyone that day why we were carrying on like giggling-Gertie school girls, unable to stand up with our legs crossed. The odd outburst of laughter ricocheted between us for the rest of the afternoon, despite being in adjacent offices.
I’m still not sure of the best word to use. There appears to be no general agreement on panties, undies, knickers, underwear, briefs……
Any thoughts on vocabulary for female underwear or friends at work?