Appropriate by Karen Marron
When my sister came to visit me in New York, she cried. Everyone dresses so nice here, I’m scared to leave the house in what I have. The same thing had happened to me; I would obsessively look at the clothing of each person I passed to find something resembling what I was wearing, for reassurance that I was OK. But then, I have done that since the age of 13. Assuming that everyone has received and understood the rule book except me. When I started interviewing for jobs, I read somewhere that a suit is appropriate interview attire. I bought one at Ann Taylor for way more than I could afford; in my mind it looked sharp, but in reality it was the color and shape of men’s pajamas. I interviewed at so many places, each one a separate universe with separate rules, separate ways of being appropriate. Each time it shocked me that yet another one existed, that yet another group of people had come together to fulfill a common corporate mission meaningless to anyone outside their building. In that suit, I never got the job. But I was grateful for the sunlight as I walked away from those places, for a few brief minutes feeling like part of the world.
Karen Marron lives and writes in Tel Aviv. She is a creative nonfiction editor and the production editor of The Ilanot Review, and has an MA in creative writing from Bar-Ilan University. Her chapbook, The Best American Short Stories 1998, won the 2018 Gold Line Press fiction chapbook competition and is forthcoming in 2020. Additional work appears in The Bellingham Review, Entropy, Queen Mob’s Tea House, and Hobart, among others.
Photo by Fancycrave